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Things to see and do at Headley Heath

A forested path in Headley Heath, Surrey
A forested path in Headley Heath | © National Trust Images/Gary Cosham

Not far from southwest London, peaceful Headley is waiting to be discovered. Soak up Headley’s unique tranquillity with its stunning views or bring your walking boots and explore the heathland on one of the many waymarked walks. There are plenty of bridleways for horse riders and cyclists too.

Footpaths for all

As the heathland is mainly flat and dry, families with buggies and wheelchair users can enjoy exploring it with its far-reaching views and abundant wildlife. Dress for the weather and head out at any time of the year. Follow one of the many footpaths – there are so many, from shorter routes to the North Downs Way.

Explore on horseback

Trot along a network of public bridleways and permissive horse rides – you can see so much more from the saddle. Escape and explore further afield.

Cycle from Headley

Cycle part of the Olympic road race from Headley. Join the loop and head onto Box Hill or beyond – the Sustrans route 22 or the Surrey Cycleway are great rides. Using pedal power you can discover more of the beautiful Surrey Hills and its hidden treasures.

Family fun at Headley

There are plenty of leafy playgrounds around the heath, including the discovery zone near the car park, so you can get the family stuck into activities like collecting berries and hunting for bugs.

Purple Emperor butterfly
Purple Emperor butterfly | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

Wildlife at Headley Heath

As a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with a mixture of heathland, woodland and chalk grassland, Headley Heath provides a rich habitat for many different species of flora and fauna. At quieter times you may be able to spot roe deer and badgers near the wooded slopes. There are also small mammals like shrews, voles and wood mice.

Reptiles and amphibians live on the heath and in and around the ponds. Adders, grass snakes, slow-worms, lizards, frogs, toads and smooth, palmate and great-crested newts.

There are over 25 butterfly species here: white admiral, purple emperor and purple hairstreak in the woodland; small copper and gatekeeper on the heathland; silver-spotted skipper, brown argus and green hairstreak on the downland and many, many more.

Ling, bell heather and yellow gorse dominate the heathland. Come spring, the air is filled with the sweet, coconut scent of the gorse. More than 20 plant species can grow in a square metre on the chalk downland. You can find potentillas, rock rose, wild thyme, and orchids such as the common-spotted orchid.

Autumn is the time to see the fungi and more than 60 species have been found at Headley. Remember that some fungi are poisonous and it’s best to look and not touch.

A bench with the inscription 'Friends of Headley Heath' under a Silver Birch tree

Discover more at Headley Heath

Find out how to get to Headley Heath, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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