What can I see at Ludshott Commons?
At Ludshott Commons in Hampshire, you can enjoy timeless landscapes, views, and rare wildlife. The heathland dates back 5000 years, and some of the few remaining areas of lowland heath in Europe.
In medieval times, the common was part of the Royal Forest of Woolmer, a large area of heath and wood pasture grazed by commoner' animals, similar to the New Forest today.
The military move in
In the 1940s, the eastern edge of the commmon was requisitioned for Canadian troops. Known as Superior Camp, it compromised over 100 buildings, streets, a parade ground, and a shooting range. It was demolished in the 1960s, but you can still see concrete remains, and the garden plants like apple trees and rose bushes.
During the Second World War, the common was used for tank training, which crushed and destroyed much of the vegetation. After the military moved out, scrub invaded, and spread fast because the common was no longer grazed. In the 1970s, the site was completely covered in gorse, up to 20ft high.
Fire clears the way
In 1980, a huge fire raged across the site. Gorse burns at a very high tempurature, and the huge flames cleared the commons of scrubby woodland and gorse. Whilst a disaster, the fire allowed us to take the chance to restore the site to heathland.
A constant battle
After the fire, heather soon recolonised the bare earth, but it's a constant battle to prevent gorse, bracken and scrub from taking over. As commoners no longer graze here, we keep the heathland open using machinery. Although expensive and time-consuming, keeping the heath clear is esssential to conserve the ancient landscape for the wildlife that live here.
The main type of heather is ling, but you can also find bell heather and cross-leaved heath. Over 40 bird species have been recorded here, but the heathland is espcially important for the rare Dartford warbler, the woodland, and nightjar.
The reptile populations was destroyed in the 1980 fire, but sand lizards were reintroduced in a small area in 1993, and are now thriving.
We kept some of the woodland to provide a habitat for birds like the redstart, wood warbler and the goshawk.