Know before you go
Parking informationSpringdale Road car park for access via north heath. Roadside parking at end of Longmeadow Lane for central/ south heath.
Grazing animalsCattle and ponies all year round.
Four waymarked nature trails, circular loops of the central and south heath possible. Please click here for a downloadable guide.
Several bridleways cross the site. Part of the Castleman Trailway. Help protect the site by following the Heathland Code.
Access through field or pedestrian gates but heath around Springdale car park ungated. Sandy or gravel tracks with moderate slopes, flat section along central bridleway and on easy access trail.
Please check the Heathland Code before visiting the reserve. A number of paths criss-cross the site with four recommended circular routes across the heath; three longer nature trails and a short easy access route (leaflets available in office hours from the Urban Wildlife Centre). Away from the paths the ground may be very wet, boggy and uneven with unseen hazards beneath the vegetation - please stick to the paths for your own safety and to help protect this special habitat. Some of the paths may also be wet in winter.
The site is important for the rare and declining adder, although you'd be lucky to see one, do keep an eye out at the edges of paths and check before sitting down, and don't allow dogs to run off through the open heath to prevent them disturbing one. Ticks may be present on the heathland, particularly in any bracken or long grassy areas. Several of the larger ponds in the woodland in the centre of the site contain deep water. Some illegal off-road motorbiking does occur - please report sightings to the office. For more on ticks, dogs and grazing animals please see the Visitor Information page.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMid summer for heathland in full colour
About the reserve
A heathland oasis right on the doorstep for the people of Poole and visitors from further afield, this internationally important habitat is packed full of rare and fascinating wildlife.
A rich mosaic of dry, humid and wet heath, bog pools, ponds, grassland and woodland this reserve has plenty to offer, whether your interest is in the specialist plants and animals that live on the reserve or you just want to enjoy the sense of space that you get from being on the open heath. The heath boast all six of native reptiles including the rare sand lizard and smooth snake. If you want to spot dragonflies then this is the place to be with 16 species!
The site also gives great views across Poole Harbour, Corfe Castle and the Isle of Purbeck. Though the heathland is steeped in human-history, owing much of its undulating character to quarrying for the pottery and brick making industries that developed around the heath, it is also vulnerable to damage by man from fires, visitor impacts and pressures from the adjacent urban areas.
Keeping the Heath Healthy
This largely man-made habitat needs constant management to keep conditions optimum for the range of species and you may well see signs of scrub or bracken cutting, tree removal, creation of fire-breaks and bare sandy tracks, as well as the grazing animals we use to help keep vegetation growth in check. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with work on the heath as we are always glad of extra pairs of hands - check out our volunteering and events pages for more information.
Access on foot from a number of points following the public rights of way coming onto the site. Best accessed by car from the car park at Springdale Road (accessed from Wareham Road running through Corfe Mullen) or roadside parking at the end of Longmeadow Lane (just off the A35). Some limited parking in front of the Beacon Hill Urban Wildlife Centre. Use the 'Get directions' link to see options for public transport and cycling routes.
Dog Walking information
See below for a guide to walking your dog on Upton Heath and a coloured map to use with the dog traffic light system which is operating on the nature reserve.