Staines Moor, Surrey.

When I was planning my five-night stay in Staines, I spent a while poring over an OS map of the area and spotted a large expanse of common land between two of the area’s great reservoirs – Wraysbury Reservoir and King George VI Reservoir. Being the largest expanse of common land near to Heathrow AirportContinue reading “Staines Moor, Surrey.”

Weybridge Heath & Little Heath, Cobham, Surrey.

You might not think of Surrey as the birthplace of enduringly influential radical politics, but it is. And more than once, because not only is Runnymede where Magna Carta was (most likely) signed, but The Diggers conducted their two experiments in egalitarian communal living near to Weybridge and Cobham in the aftermath of the EnglishContinue reading “Weybridge Heath & Little Heath, Cobham, Surrey.”

Horsell Common, Woking, Surrey.

I’m a lifelong fan of alien invasion movies, so it’s odd I’ve never actually read War of the Worlds (though I’m probably one of the few people who count Speilberg’s 2005 take on the story as a guilty pleasure). However, when I found out Wells had his aliens land in a sandpit on Horsell Common,Continue reading “Horsell Common, Woking, Surrey.”

Eton Commons, Surrey

Eton College and Eton Town are surrounded by an extensive block of common land which reaches West along the Thames and continues on past the small town of Eton Wick. This seemed to me fittingly bucolic, of a piece with those other commons-wrapped bastions of the elite, Oxford and Cambridge Universities. I’ll admit my tripContinue reading “Eton Commons, Surrey”

Runnymede, Windsor, Surrey.

In final few days of August, I spent five nights staying at a three star hotel in Staines. Not exactly the height of glamour, though I certainly enjoyed the perversity of telling people. Aside from it being rather cheap to stay there during a pandemic, Staines offers easy access to a number of really importantContinue reading “Runnymede, Windsor, Surrey.”

Southborough Common & Hilly Field, Kent.

In late August, I spent a couple of days with my parents in Tunbridge Wells before heading up to Staines to visit the important and fascinating commons in that area. I passed most of my childhood in Tunbridge Wells, a town dominated by a mostly wooded common close to its centre and extending some distanceContinue reading “Southborough Common & Hilly Field, Kent.”

Semerwater & Hawes, North Yorkshire.

We’ve stayed in the same cottage in Bainbridge every other year for the past six years, so we’ve got to know the area around it reasonably well. The nearest town, Hawes, has an incredible bakery and is where we shop, and we always do the same nine mile walk from the cottage, up to Semerwater,Continue reading “Semerwater & Hawes, North Yorkshire.”

Blea Moor & Brows Pasture, LA6.

The day after our luxury stay at the M6 Northbound Stafford Moto Services was a beautiful but breezy one and the journey to Bainbridge was swift enough to reach the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct before lunchtime. Our book of Yorkshire Dales walks includes an under 7-mile route starting there and, as it’s largely flat, that madeContinue reading “Blea Moor & Brows Pasture, LA6.”

Walton Hill Common, ST15.

In mid-August, my wife, daughter and I headed up to Bainbridge in the Yorkshire Dales and, as we’d done previously, broke our journey at the Stafford M6 Northbound Moto Services, staying at the Travelodge overnight. Now, the Stafford M6 Northbound Moto Services isn’t a bad spot. It has a pretty, landscaped lake with plenty ofContinue reading “Walton Hill Common, ST15.”

Hardy’s atomic heathland

Today’s trip to a couple of tiny, scrubby little commons not far from Wareham, Dorset, are a real illustration of why the larger landscape needs to be engaged with to make sense of a common. Burton Heath and Knighton Common, a track at the southern end of Knighton Heath, are on opposite sides of WinfrithContinue reading “Hardy’s atomic heathland”