Common is the open space
Harrow with the greatest sense of
wildness. Visitors feel that they could get lost in the network of
winding paths. This sense of remoteness is valued by many visitors but
discourages others. The paths can be muddy so except in the height of
summer visitors should wear stout shoes or boots.
In contrast to the other open spaces in
Harrow’s Green Belt, which look out over urban Harrow and
central London towards the North Downs, views in Stanmore Common are
northeast over open land albeit cut by the M1 motorway. The soil grades
from London Clay in the lowest, northeast sections through Claygate
Beds to the quickly draining Stanmore Gravels on the north, west and
south. Stanmore Common contains good examples of three habitat types
and their associated fauna:
There is a long history of human settlement and activity in Stanmore
and clues of this are present all over the Common. The open heaths
themselves are the result of clearance in the 17th century, while a
series of earthworks probably all belonged to a 16th century or later
rabbit warren documented in 1667 as the coney warren. The rounded
hill-like mound called Fox-Earth is the most obvious, but this may
possibly be an older mound re-used. South of Warren Lane lie
Brewer’s Ponds, created in the late 19th century as a
reservoir to serve Clutterbuck's Brewery.
woodland on the south and
west sides suffered significant felling around the 2nd World War but is
otherwise likely to have been continuously wooded since 1660. It
contains a rich flora including many ancient woodland indicators
together with a rich invertebrate fauna, many of which depend on the
considerable amounts of standing dead timber.
grassland and heath is a rare
habitat in southeast England. The loss of large areas of open heath on
Stanmore Common was recorded by the local naturalist Eliza Brightwen,
who described in 1904 how the “golden sheen of the furze
blossoms spreading over more than two hundred acres” she
remembered from 1880 had been replaced by birch woodland. By 1990 only
a few small glades retained the lovely, special flora including
heather, white heath bedstraw and yellow-flowered tormentil.
Considerable work by volunteers rescued heather bushes from under the
deep shade of willow scrub and restored the open glades of Cerrislande
and Oakmead to complex and lovely mosaics of grasses, both tall and
short, mixed with young tree saplings, heather, bracken, and gorse.
These are lovely places to come upon when the low winter sun
illuminates frosty grasses, or to rest among flowers on a warm
project funded by the
Heritage Lottery Fund will in 2012-2015 perform a similar but larger
scale restoration of Bluebell Heath.
Bands of scrub will be
while a small section of young birch woodland will be cleared and
reseeded with heather. When complete Bluebell Heath will form a broad
sweep of grassland and heath giving the visitor a great sense of
openness. It will provide considerable space for colonization by the
flora and fauna of the smaller residual acid grassland habitats,
helping to ensure the survival of these plant and invertebrate
develop in springs and flushes on the interface between the Stanmore
Gravel/Claygate Beds and the London Clay and are home to a specialized
community of plants and invertebrates including rarities such as
Sphagnum moss. At the lowest part of the Common a boardwalk crosses the
marshy Pynding Mersc, giving a sense of adventure and providing
opportunities for pond dipping.
Trail with two alternative routes, one 1.2 miles long and one just under one mile long, begins at the Warren Lane
car park and shows visitors many aspects of
the site. Leaflets are usually available in a metal dispenser at the car park. Alternatively use one of these sources:
map with stream names
PDF with more details about Stanmore Common
Version suitable for
be accessed here - or
by QR tags
on the posts as you
walk the trail. This is the most complete version of the guide.
version suitable for
printing and taking along with you, but without maps or illustrations.
PDF copy of leaflet, with maps and illustrations
- but note this is intended to be printed onn A3
paper; if printed on A4 text size will be very small.
Map above reproduced by
permission of Geographers' A-Z Map Co.
Ltd. (c)Crown Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Licence number
How to find the reserve
The number 142 bus runs along the A4140 “The
the junction of the A4140 “The Common” and the A409
Road is served by the 258 bus. There is a car park off Warren Lane
(post code HA7 3HQ, map reference TQ 1600 9353). Alternatively
a pleasant and
largely road-free route leads from Stanmore Common through Stanmore
Country Park to Stanmore Jubilee Line station – click here
for details. The meeting
for all events such as guided walks and conservation work
parties is the car park in Warren Lane.
The Common is managed by voluntary wardens who work to record species
and enhance the site’s biodiversity. Larger scale work, such
mechanical cutting of the open areas to prevent scrub growth, is
performed by council contractors. Stanmore Common needs volunteers. If
you would like to help, whether at one of our working parties or as
part of the warden team, contact us as below.
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