Stockbridge Marsh

Moorhens beside the River Test at Stockbridge Common Marsh, Hampshire

Discover the rich wetland habitat of Stockbridge Marsh, a haven for birds and butterflies.

Situated just behind the High Street of Stockbridge, Stockbridge Marsh is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

It lies within the peaty river valley of the River Test and has Marsh Court stream, a tributary of the Test running along its Western boundry.

A rich wetland habitat, the Marsh consists of unimproved wet grassland and fen-like vegetation, with herb-rich hummocky areas across the site.

The site is a haven for bird species such as reed and sedge warblers, swans, moorhens, kingfishers, mistle thrush and reed buntings.

Swan on the River Test at Stockbridge Common Marsh
Swan on the River Test at Stockbridge Common Marsh, Hampshire

Water voles slip secretively around the edges of the river reeds and butterfly species such as Tortoiseshell, small copper and marbled whites can be found basking among the vegetation.

You may also notice Yellow Meadow ant hills, especially to the southern end of the site, which are an important indicator of ancient grasslands.

Managing Stockbridge Marsh

It is 'Common Land' with ancient manorial rights dating back to the Norman Conquest: anyone who lives in the borough of Stockbridge is a commoner of this land.

Some commoners take up their common rights here in the form of grazing – the Marsh is grazed by cattle and horses during the summer working with us. These animals help to keep the dominant grasses down and allow a wider diversity of flora species to thrive.

As well as grazing, our team manage the control of species such as ragwort and Creeping Thistle, both of which can become dominant, and the growth of hawthorn scrub on the site.

Walking at Stockbridge Marsh

Moorhens beside the River Test at Stockbridge Common Marsh, Hampshire
Walking trail

Stockbridge Common Marsh wildlife walk 

This easy, 1.8 mile walk across the marsh offers access to the river's edge, in a valley which otherwise has little or no river frontage. On calm winter days, swans can be seen gliding downstream and water rail, a secretive wetland bird that is more easily spotted in winter, pick their long-toed way along the edges of the reeds.

Planning your visit

Stockbridge Common Marsh can be reached from the Test Way which runs alongside it and via a footpath from the town of Stockbridge in Hampshire.

There is also a National Trust car park on site (Sat Nav SO20 6JH).

Whilst cycling and horseriding are not permitted, it is a fine place to take a walk or have a picnic.