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The Wildlife of Woking

16 February 2022 / Area Guides

Closer to nature, but still convenient to town!

During lockdown, many of us felt the need to get out of town, into spaces that offered us a place to walk, be outside and explore the great outdoors. For this reason, Woking has proved popular with those that want an affordable home with access to walks, wildlife and options to enjoy a refreshingly slower pace of life – even if it is just when the working day is done.

HORSELL COMMON

880 acres of wonderful open space near Woking, this common is owned and managed by the Horsell Common Preservation Society. Just under half of the area is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, and it forms part of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. This dedicated area was created in 2005 and forms part of Natura 2000 – a European-wide network of sites of international importance for nature conservation, with a special focus on protecting wild birds and their habitats. 

Other treasures of the Common, include the former Muslim Burial Ground, now an Islamic Peace Garden, Bronze Age burial grounds, protected heathland and thousands of trees for a spot of afternoon forest bathing! Reconnect with local history, wildlife and the great outdoors on Horsell Common.

THE BASINGSTOKE AND WEY NAVIGATION CANAL WALK

Brookwood and Basingstoke Canal Towpath is a 5.5 mile loop trail located near Woking. Featuring all manner of interesting sights along the route, this hike is a great option for those that want to get out for an easy ramble. The trail is particularly popular with those that like to combine hiking and walking with nature trips and bird watching.

A fabulously interesting historic feature of the canal is the large number of concrete bunkers (known as pillboxes) still visible along its length; these were built during World War II as part of the GHQ Line to defend against an expected German invasion! Take a walk and check it out.

THE NORTH DOWN & SURREY HILLS

Imagine you are surrounded by beautiful, rolling chalk hills. You can see the Surrey Hills off in one direction and Kent Downs on another – both areas are Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The highest point of these picturesque hills is at Botley Hill in Surrey. The Surrey Hills are just over 30 minutes drive from Woking, so you can make this wonderful part of the world a part of your weekend, every weekend! Check out the National Trust Top Walks in Surrey for route suggestions and details.

BLOOMING MARVELLOUS DAY OUT

Woking boasts a world-class attraction in The Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley – the nation’s most popular gardens after Kew. With 1.2 million visitors per annum, Wisley is the second most visited paid entry garden in the UK, after the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Founded by Victorian businessman and RHS member George Ferguson Wilson, the site was purchased in 1878, where Wilson created the Oakwood Experimental Garden – a place where he attempted to “make difficult plants grow successfully”. Wisley was gifted to the RHS in 1903, and now covers 240 acres of formal and informal decorative gardens, multiple speciality glasshouses and an extensive arboretum. A total must see, check out https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley for details.

WILD FUN WITH THE FAMILY

At the heart of Woking lies the home of WWF (UK) – one of the greenest buildings in the UK. The Living Planet Centre is home for this globally known wildlife charity, and also a beautiful education and visitor centre From family activities and school workshops, to behind-the-scenes tours and inspiring public talks there is a wonderful range of activities to inspire and educate. The Centre is currently closed due to Covid restrictions, but is expected to open to the public again soon.

To find out more about our Woking properties, visit our Woking Branch.

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