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Things to do at Cookham Commons

A fallen tree lies on Cock Marsh at Cookham Commons, Berkshire.
Cock Marsh at Cookham Commons | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

The Cookham Commons are a series of grassland and woodland commons, offering great walks and impressive views over the rural landscape of Berkshire. Discover what you can see at each common, from Widbrook and Cock Marsh to the Commons of Cookham Dean, and find the best places for wildlife spotting here.

Cookham Moor

At the very heart of Cookham Village you’ll find Cookham Moor, often a hub for local events and fêtes, and a haven for wildlife thanks to its carefully managed habitats. The verges are a great place to go bug hunting for beetles and other insects, and on quieter days you may be lucky enough to see a kingfisher perched above the pond.

Cookham Moor is a good starting point for an extended walk along the River Thames to Cock Marsh. Alternatively, head south into the quieter countryside, criss-crossed by the Strand Water and White Brook streams. This walk is also the best way to venture onto Widbrook Common.

Local to Cookham, the works of artist Stanley Spencer capture the tranquillity of everyday village life and the rural idyll of the surroundings. Take in the history and culture of Cookham Village by combining a walk in the countryside with a visit to Cookham church and the Stanley Spencer Gallery.

Cock Marsh

Situated on the banks of the River Thames, opposite the town of Bourne End, the chalk grasslands of Cock Marsh make for a pleasant riverside stroll. Follow the footpaths weaving through the grasses and wildflowers or climb to the top of the chalk slope to discover far-reaching views over the Buckingham countryside.

In summer, cows graze the meadows, encouraging wildflowers and orchids to grow here. You may also find rock roses, thyme, and a rare plant called brown galingale. Cock marsh is one of only 12 sites in the UK where you can find brown galingale, now an endangered species.

Cock Marsh is home to four circular Bronze Age burial mounds (tumuli). When first created, the largest barrow had a diameter of 90 feet, and would have been around eight feet high. Today, although much diminished, you can still see the largest mound.

Widbrook

Grazed by commoners since time immemorial, the pretty stream of White Brook (or Widbrook) winds its way through these pastures. The name derives from the stream’s traditional name, Withe Brooke, which refers to the ‘withe’ or willow trees that are found along the banks of the stream.

Widbrook is still grazed by local commoners between May and October, which has created a diverse habitat for insects and birds.

The best way to explore Widbrook Common is to venture south from Cookham Moor, away from the bustling Thames-side village of Cookham into quieter countryside.

Winter Hill

Winter Hill offers some of the most breath-taking views of the river Thames and nearby Cock Marsh. One of the highest Thames terraces, Winter Hill is believed to have been used as winter pasture for livestock when more fertile areas on the flood plains became unstable – thus its name, ‘winter hill’.

Winter Hill at Cookham Commons
Winter Hill at Cookham Commons | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

The Commons of Cookham Dean

The commons of Cookham Dean consist of various road verges, village greens, small parcels of woodland and a disused quarry, creating a chain of grassland habitats through the landscape.

The main car park is located at Cookham Dean Common, the largest of the grasslands, making it an excellent place to start exploring. From here you can wander through the Cricket Common, Cookham Dean Chalk Pit, Bigfrith Common, Hardings Green Common and Tugwood Common.

Highlights include far-ranging views from the Cricket Common, 16th-century architecture at Hardings Green Common, and rural landscapes at Tugwood Common that inspired the adventures of Ratty, Mole and Toad, in the book The Wind in the Willows, written by Kenneth Grahame while he lived at Cookham Dean.

There are plenty of walks and footpaths that you can follow to take in the various landscapes of the Cookham Dean Commons.

Dotted around Maidenhead and Cookham these attractive areas of common land are popular spots for walking and picnicking.

Discover more at Maidenhead and Cookham Commons

Find out how to get to Maidenhead and Cookham Commons, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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