Portland Commons

The first time I visited the Isle of Portland was to help my brother-in-law move there and knew right away I’d be back. I’d already seen it countless times, as it’s visible right down the Devon coast, including from the Pebblebed Heaths. When the visibility is reasonable and the sun shines on it, there itContinue reading “Portland Commons”

Cross Moor Drove & Middle Rhyne, Somerset.

When I headed up the M5 to Crook Peak, I was also chasing another, very different, kind of commons experience. I spend a fair amount of time online exploring the nation’s commons by zooming in and out of DEFRA’s map of common land, and I noticed that just south of Crook Peak, starting at theContinue reading “Cross Moor Drove & Middle Rhyne, Somerset.”

Crook Peak/ Compton Hill, nr. Axminster, Somerset.

Anyone who’s driven up the M5 south of Bristol, between Junctions 21 and 22, will have noticed a peak soaring up just north of Bridgwater and from which the Mendips ripples eastwards. Modestly clothed in gorse and heather, through which poke patches of calcareous limestone, it seems to promise glorious walking; I’ve meant to headContinue reading “Crook Peak/ Compton Hill, nr. Axminster, Somerset.”

Several commons around Wareham, Dorset.

To mark another beautiful September day, I drove down to West Dorset to have a look at some commons that had intrigued me when I came across them on mapping sites. St. Mary’s Churchyard is a tiny common in the middle of a meadow south of the River Froome. The original church likely dates toContinue reading “Several commons around Wareham, Dorset.”

Greenham & Crookham Commons

It’s extraordinary I’ve never been to Greenham Common before. It’s slightly more than a ten minute drive from where my aunt lived, and given its fame, its recent return to its original heathland habitats, and the utterly glorious beech woods on its lower slopes, it would seem a logical destination amongst the hill forts, riverContinue reading “Greenham & Crookham Commons”

Small Surrey commons near to Staines, Woking and Heathrow.

Many of the commons I’ve visited are well looked-after and well-used, either by the public, by commoners, or both. They’re attached to community groups, they have Facebook pages, the council has an action plan for them, a charity nurtures them for bats. But many of the smaller commons – and some are very small indeedContinue reading “Small Surrey commons near to Staines, Woking and Heathrow.”

Little Solsbury Hill & Solsbury Common, Somerset.

On a glorious, summer-hot September day, I headed up the M5 to just north of Bath to climb up on one of rock’s most famous hills. Little Solsbury Hill is an Iron Age hillfort owned by the National Trust and a registered common with rights to graze sheep, cattle and horse, and surrounded by aContinue reading “Little Solsbury Hill & Solsbury Common, Somerset.”

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.”