Heather Farm Wetland & Café
Heather Farm riverside meadows, wetland, and car park open seven days a week from 07:00 until one hour after dusk.
For the protection of wildfowl the wetland area inside the fence is a dog free zone.
Dogs are welcome on the riverside meadows walks and the surrounding common.
Waters Edge café is closed until further notice.
Heather Farm, Chobham Road, Horsell Common
VISITORS CAR PARK – OS Grid Reference SU995606 –
Sat Nav GU21 4XY
Heather Farm is located between the Littlewick Road roundabout and Horsell Common Road.
The Heather Farm Riverside Meadows & Wetland are the Jewels in the Crown of Horsell Common Preservation Society’s extensive landholding, which not only encompasses 916 acres of high forest, woodland and meadows, but also includes areas of lowland heath that forms part of the internationally important Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area.
Heather Farm provides a completely new Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) that has been developed by HCPS and Woking Borough Council to mitigate the increased public pressure on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Areas (SPA) as a result of additional housing development.
Welcome advice and guidance on developing a SANG has also been provided by Natural England, the Government’s advisers on wildlife and the natural environment.
SANGs are designed to attract more visitors by providing an enjoyable natural environment for recreation as an alternative to the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. To prevent harm to the SPA, new housing development within 5km must contribute towards the provision and management of SANGs and encourage their use to reduce recreational pressure on the SPA.
This is part of Woking Borough Council’s Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Areas Avoidance Strategy, which can be found on the Council’s website. Details of how much contribution development will be required to make towards the provision of SANGs are set out in the Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Schedule. The Council’s documents are on: www.woking.gov.uk.
As Woking and its surrounding villages grow in population, and as more and more of us seek a healthier lifestyle, it is vitally important that there are ample opportunities for people to access our local countryside without putting further pressure on fragile ecosystems, such as heathlands and the wildlife they support.
At least 35% of households in the UK now own a dog, and many more people are discovering that a great way to exercise is by taking a good healthy walk with the family’s “best friend”. However, increasing visitor numbers are proving detrimental to wildlife; rare and endangered bird species, such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar and woodlark, which all nest on or near the ground, will only survive on heathlands. Sadly, 80% of nightjar nests fail if they are within 50 metres of a moderately used footpath.
However, help is at hand at Heather Farm, where extensive walks through less fragile meadows meandering along the River Bourne have been specifically designed to be dog-friendly. A path leading from a new, free car park takes you along the river, where you can relax and enjoy views across open fields, where dogs will be able to run or chase a ball in safety, well away from busy roads. You may occasionally come across a seat to rest on, that has been created from local resources such as a fallen tree, or you may prefer to take a picnic and sit by the river on a hot summer’s day. Whatever suits, it will be a great place to relax.
Moreover, special features have been installed at Heather Farm, such as a special slope to gain access into the river so that dogs can cool down with a swim; and when you get back to the car park, a dog wash facility will help remove the mud from a very happy pooch! But wait, don’t go home just yet! There is the Cafe, where you can relax on the terrace overlooking the wetland, or inside where you can enjoy real coffee or tea with wholesome food served in comfortable surroundings. Dogs are most welcome in the café, where the staff will ensure they can get a bowl of water, and just possibly, a little doggy treat – on the house, of course!
Pictures of Heather Farm can be found in the Gallery.