Hindhead Commons

The largest lowland heath in an area of outstanding natural beauty and gateway to the Surrey Hills

Hindhead Commons, which includes the Devil’s Punch Bowl, Gibbet Hill, covers some 650 hectares of central Surrey.

Hindhead Commons include some of the most extensive areas of lowland heath in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) anywhere, and is important for its large expanses of undeveloped countryside.

Grazing of the heathland by commoners ended around the mid-1900s allowed the spread of birch, pine and bracken over the heather. This is now being reversed by a programme of active reclamation, and Exmoor ponies and Highland cattle are being deployed to restore and maintain these areas.

The heath is dominated by heather, Bell Heather, Cross-Leaved Heath and Dwarf Gorse, with bracken and Common Gorse and grasses such as Purple Moor Grass. Older woods and wood pastures of oak, holly, ash and beech coppice occur in places, as in Highcombe Copse. Alder, willow and Bog Bean grow along the stream at Highcombe Bottom, with a series of small mires.

Wildlife highlights: Green, Great and Lesser-Spotted Woodpeckers can be seen in the woods, with Nightjar, Stonechat and Woodlark on the heath. Willow warblers, Dartford wrblers, Wood warbler, dunnock, wren, chaffinsh and a variety of tits can all be seen or heard. Silver studded blue Butterfly, Sand Lizard and Adder are all relatively common here, and the valley bottom supports a rich insect fauna, home to rare craneflies.

Facilities: Cafe open daily 29 Oct – 25 Mar, 9am-4pm (6pm Sun) and 26 Mar – 28 October, 9am – 5pm (6pm Sat & Sun)

Car park charges will apply after the first hour, £2 per day, National Trust members free.

National Trust Website  – Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punch Bowl