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Visit Finchampstead Ridges

Sunlight glints through the tall trees, with ferns on the ground below in the woodland in early morning at Finchampstead Ridges, Runnymede, Surrey
Woodland in early morning at Finchampstead Ridges, Runnymede, Surrey | © National Trust Images/David Sellman

Not far from Runnymede and Ankerwycke is Finchampstead Ridges, a small group of countryside sites nestled in Southern Berkshire – a cluster of hidden gems, waiting to be discovered. Find out what there is to see, where to park, and how the National Trust cares for this beauty spot here.

Visiting Finchampstead Ridges

To visit Finchampstead Ridges, you’ll need to park in Simon’s Wood car park, Wellingtonia Avenue, Finchampstead, Wokingham, Berkshire RG45 6AE. Take the A321 (Lower Wokingham Road) and turn West into the B3348, Wellingtonia Avenue. The car park to Simon's Wood is on the right.

If you’re travelling by train, the closest station is Crowthorne. On the Reading-bound side of the track, head west onto Duke's Ride. Continue over the roundabout onto Wellingtonia Avenue. Simon's Wood car park is about half a mile on your right.

Things to see and do

The Ridges itself offers far-reaching views towards the Hogsback Ridge in Surrey, and is one of the National Trust’s oldest acquisitions, having been in our care for over 100 years.

Simon's Wood showcases one of the most recognisable features in the local landscape with an avenue of impressive redwood sequoia trees (also known as Wellingtonia trees), planted in 1863. You can also see the remains of an early Roman road from London to Silchester, believed to date from the second century and now nicknamed the Devil’s Highway.

Take a walk up Ambarrow Hill to find an intriguing mound – what do you think caused it? There are several theories, although archaeologists have been unable to confirm its cause.

A paradise for wildlife

Finchampstead Ridges are home to a significant area of heathland, which is a greatly declining habitat in Europe, but vital for many specialist species.

If you walk slowly and quietly on a sunny day, you may be lucky enough to spot a common lizard or slow-worm basking in the warmth of the sun. Listen out for the songs of birds nesting among the heather or perched on the pines, and look out for butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. Spout Pond at Finchampstead Ridges and Heath Pond at Simon’s Wood are great spots to see wildlife.

In the woodlands, look out for fungi and chestnuts in autumn, and a feast of berries on the holly and rowan trees in winter.

Pink heather flowers, with tall trees beyond, on the hillside of the Ridge at Finchampstead Ridges, Runnymede in Surrey
Heather on the Ridge at Finchampstead Ridges, Runnymede in Surrey | © National Trust Images/David Sellman

Loved by locals

Finchampstead Ridges was owned by the Walter family, then owners of The Times newspaper. In 1913, following financial difficulties, the estate was broken up; Finchampstead Ridges was purchased thanks to a group of local people who raised the money by subscription and gifted it to the National Trust.

The lands making up Simon's Wood (previously known as the Heath Pool) were acquired by Thomas Coghlan Horsfall, a Manchester philanthropist, after he retired to Wokingham in the 1920s. They were gifted to the National Trust by Mr C. G. H. Simon and Mr R. Brooks, and were renamed at the suggestion of Mrs Joan Rudkin, a very active National Trust supporter who played a leading role in establishing a local supporters group.

Find our Friends of Finchampstead Ridges website here.

Looking after Finchampstead

The National Trust ranger and volunteer team work hard all year round to maintain the landscape, preventing the encroachment of silver birch and pine scrub on the heathland, and rhododendron in the woodland. These invasive species, if not managed, could result in the loss of important natural habitats.

Finchampstead's dedicated volunteer team, numbering around 35 people, includes members of the local community from all walks of life who give up their time to ensure that Finchampstead Ridges stays special for everyone, for ever – people and wildlife alike.

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