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Things to do at Maidenhead Commons

A view of the Maidenhead and Cookham Commons at dusk, with a pond in the foreground and an orange-blue sky above
A view of Maidenhead and Cookham Commons at dusk | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

The Maidenhead Commons are a series of grassland and woodland commons, offering great walks among nature and a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the town centre. Discover what you can see at each common, from Maidenhead Thicket to North Town Moors, and find the best places for wildlife spotting here.

Maidenhead Thicket

The Thicket offers the largest area of wooded common with around five miles of footpaths taking you through broadleaf woodland, rides and tree-lined avenues. Imaginations can run wild on these family-friendly routes where you’ll find great places to try out den-building and bug hunting.

These rich habitats are great for wildlife spotting throughout the year. In spring, look out for clumps of snowdrops in the woods, while in summer the common spotted orchid flourishes in pockets of grassland, attracting plenty of butterflies and emperor dragonflies. Regular visitors in autumn include bullfinches and red wings, and a golden canopy of oak and lime leaves covers the woodland.

Among the younger woods are many ancient and veteran trees, some up to 400 years old, where you can spot different fungi, insects and birds.

Pinkneys Drive

With woodlands and meadow to explore, Pinkneys Drive is a great place for walking, cycling and horse riding. Across the road from the car park, you’ll find a herb-rich wildflower meadow – a particular highlight in spring when the meadow is awash with cowslips.

The grassland areas are managed as hay meadow, with haymaking in the summer to encourage seed distribution and floral diversity. The wooded area is managed in the same way as Maidenhead Thicket, where rides are kept open so you can explore more of this area.

Pinkneys Drive is a good starting point for an extended walk across the Maidenhead Commons. Begin your walk at the car park, located on Pinkneys Drive between Henley Rd and Moorlands Drive.

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Pinkneys Green

Meander through the hay meadows at Pinkneys Green and you'll see a rich variety of grasses, flowers and buzzing insects that have made their home in this expanse of open grassland. In summer, the grasses are left to grow long, encouraging wildflowers such as cowslips, kidney vetch, ox-eye daisies and purple field scabious. These habitats are perfect for the marbled white butterfly, with its black and white checked wings, and you’ll find lots of bees amid the wildflowers.

Pinkneys Green is a great spot for birdwatching all year round. In summer, keep a sharp eye on the sky for the skylark, with its distinctive calls. Come autumn, the hedgerows surrounding the field host dunnocks, fieldfares and redwings looking for food and shelter along their winter migration.

The open space is great for trying your hand at kite flying – tick off No. 7 of your ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’, or bring your magnifying glass to take on No. 31, hunting for bugs.

A long-tailed tit foraging in a tree
A long-tailed tit | © National Trust Images/Hugh Mothersole

Brick and tile works

The old brick and tile works at Maidenhead Common lies on a bed of Reading clay, which has been extracted by local people to make building materials and pottery for hundreds of years.

Since the closure of the pits in 1968, the site has been colonised by birch woodland. You’ll find lots of flora among the brick piles, such as silverweed, marsh thistle, St John’s Wort, and the common spotted orchid. The eagle-eyed may also spot common hoverflies, the green woodpecker and marsh tit here.

The old clay pits are now occupied by a series of ponds, home to great-crested and smooth newts, and plenty of aquatic plants, from white waterlilies to frogbit, which is an endangered species found in abundance here at Maidenhead. Look out for other pond life such as the saucer bug, common wetland hoverfly and hawker dragonflies.

Winter Hill Road Woods

Once an old plantation of oak and larch, much of Winter Hill Road Woods is now managed as traditional coppice woodland, offering great walking and a valuable link between the commons of Maidenhead and those of Cookham.

North Town Moor

North Town Moor forms an integral part of the Green Way public footpath, a waterside corridor flowing from Cookham to Maidenhead, then onto Bray.

Starting from Cookham Moor, the east and west sections of the Green Way travel south either side of the Strand Water and Fleet Ditch, past Widbrook Common and White Brook stream and through arable fields before reaching North Town Moor.

Here you’ll find an orchard created by the local community group Make Space for Life, and plenty of wildlife enjoying the verges, such as bees, dragonflies, butterflies and damselflies.

From here the Green Way continues south, through Maidenhead and Green Lane, before crossing the causeway and finishing in the village of Bray.

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

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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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