Sopley Common © Andy Fale

Sopley Common © Andy Fale

Sopley Common © Jane Franklin
Heath Tiger beetle © Terry Bagley

Heath Tiger beetle © Terry Bagley

Dry and wet heath, bordered by woodland

Location

Avon Causeway
Christchurch
Dorset
BH23 6BJ

OS Map Reference

SZ1290897167
A static map of Sopley Common

Know before you go

Size
33 hectares

Entry fee

N/A

Parking information

Parking in layby close to south heath.

Bicycle parking

No

Grazing animals

None at present.

Walking trails

A number of paths and tracks give circular access around the northern & southern heaths.

Please click here for more information and guidance about dogs on DWT nature reserves.

Access

Sandy tracks and moderate slopes on northern side with section of boardwalk, flattish sandy track along edge of southern heath. Bench at the top of hill on north heath.

Enter the southern heath on the path at the east end of the layby or cross the road (carefully!) to enter the north heath via a path opposite this point. A number of sandy tracks and paths criss-cross the heaths allowing the completion of more or less circular walks. The lower lying sections of the site can be wet and boggy. Please check the Heathland Code before visiting the reserve.

Take great care when crossing Hurn Road to go between the north and south heath - cars travel quickly along this section and it is often busy. The site is home to the now quite rare adder - although only the luckiest of people get to see them, keep yourself to the paths, with dogs on leads, and scan for adders at path edges as you go. Ticks may also be present on site. For more information on these general countryside hazards and other aspects of visiting our nature reserves please see our Visitor Information page.

Dogs

On a lead
Remove all dog mess from site. See above for more information about dogs on nature reserves.

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

Summer

About the reserve

A combination of internationally important heathland, bog pools and woodland, the reserve is teeming with rare wildlife. The area consists of wet and dry heathland, divided by the Avon Causeway road, with a series of bog pools on the southern half. A fringe of trees screens the heaths from the road that passes through the middle, adding additional habitat for more common woodland birds. The dry heath, carpeted with common and bell heathers, is home to such heathland specialists as sand lizard, smooth snake and both heath and green tiger beetle.

Dartford warbler and stonechat can be heard calling from the gorse while dragonflies stalk the heaths around the bog pools. As the dry heath gives way to wetter, boggier areas, the ground becomes peppered with the aptly named cotton-grass and the intriguing, carnivorous round and oblong-leaved varieties of sundew. 

Useful Information

From Hurn bridge roundabout travel east 300m along Avon Causeway road to a lay-by on the right hand side of the road. Access is via the Forestry Commission path at the far end of the layby or across the road.

Contact us

Environmental designation

Ramsar
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
SPA
Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
Sopley Common Nature Reserve Map

Sopley Common Nature Reserve Map

The Great Heath Living Landscape

The Great Heath Living Landscape

Part of The Great Heath Living Landscape