The total area of this BOA is 4494ha, of which 31ha is Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and 1373ha are Local Wildlife Sites.

The plateau that lies between the Kennet Valley and the Pang Valley. The area runs from Bradfield, west to Cold Ash and then north to Hermitage and Hampstead Norreys. Encompasses the glacial sands and gravels that overlie much of the centre and east of the area as well as the London Clay Formation sand (Bagshot Beds). Includes a small outlying area at Oare Common. Extends onto the chalk in the north west in order to include additional woodland. Also extends off the plateau in the east to include all of Englefield Park.

Click here for area map.

Geology: The centre of the area, around Bucklebury Common, has an extensive area of Bucklebury Sand. Further east there are patches of Silchester Gravel. In the Cold Ash area there are small patches of glacial deposits including Head. At the edge of the Bucklebury Sand and Head there is a band of London Clay Formation sand (Bagshot Beds). The most extensive underlying geology is the sand, silt and clay of the London Clay Formation. Along the northern edge and including much of the area near Hermitage there is the clay, silt and sand of the Lambeth Group (Reading Beds). At Hampstead Norreys and in the far east of the area there are areas of chalk.

Topography: In the centre this area is a relatively flat plateau with quite steep sides. In the east the plateau narrows and is cut through by the valley of The Bourne. In the west, as the area turns north, there are a group of low hills in the Cold Ash and Hermitage area. Here, the area slopes away more gently to the Pang Valley, in the east, but often more steeply to the dry chalk valley in the west.



Heathland: There is an extensive area of heathland at Bucklebury.

Lowland Meadow: This habitat is found at a number of sites on the London Clay and Reading Beds especially to the north of Bucklebury Common with a few scattered sites elsewhere. Includes Briff Lane Meadows SSSI.

Woodland: Numerous ancient woodland sites are found throughout the area including Old Copse and Kings Copse SSSIs, as well as extensive sites owned by Englefield Estate. Some sites, such as Fence Wood, have been largely replanted.

Parkland: Includes Englefield Park which is known to be an important site and areas which are being restored. Also includes parkland at Benham Park.

Other habitats: Includes some land in Countryside Stewardship such as Elling Farm and Marlston Farmhouse including field margins, beetle banks and where re-creation of grassland habitat has taken place. There is a small area of chalk grassland on the old railway near Hampstead Norreys.

Geodiversity: Cold Ash Pit SSSI is included in the area.

Access: The extensive areas at Bucklebury Common and Bucklebury Lower Common provide the main focus for access. There are numerous tracks elsewhere, especially near Cold Ash and Hampstead Norreys.

Targets and opportunities: Heathland management and restoration, lowland meadow management, restoration and re-creation, woodland management. Woodland planting should be restricted to forming links but needs to carefully consider the value and potential of land for other habitats. Parkland management. West Berkshire Council manage Bucklebury Common which has helped to restore heathland at the site. There are a number of sympathetic landowners including Elling Farm and Englefield Estate.

Contact the West Berkshire Farming and Countryside Project for free advice:

Sally Wallington

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07932 322163