Sutton & Hollesley Commons Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Grazing animalsSheep and Exmoor ponies graze periodically
Dogs on leads where livestock are present
Not suitable for wheelchairs
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMay to September
About the reserve
These heaths represent one of the largest continuous areas of Sandlings heathland left and are at their most colourful in August and September. Scattered mature scots pine, oak and birch mix with fine-leaved grasses, heathers and patches of bare ground, gorse and bracken to produce a fabulous place for wildlife.
Birds like stonechat, nightjar, woodlark, redstart, tree pipit and winter visitors like hen harrier, crossbill and flocks of finch, provide interest all year round. This is one of the few sites for the delicate silver-studded butterfly. Species such as green tiger beetle, adder, fallow deer and pipistrelle, long-eared and noctule bat combine to give this heathland added appeal.
The spooky churring of nightjar on a summer’s night – heathland heaven!
Grazing is critical to maintaining open heathland and the Trust uses a mix of sheep and ponies to do this job. The Trust has a flock of rare breed Hebridean sheep who cope very well with the poor heathland grazing and will control the growth of tree seedlings. Exmoor ponies were first brought on to the heaths in 2006 and are well adapted to the poor quality grazing and will supplement their diet with a mixture of heather and shrubby species.
The scale of the achievement in restoring Sutton & Hollesley Commons is due to one of the most enduring partnerships the Trust has been party to. The landowners, the Paul family of Broxtead Estate, have supported the Sandlings restoration since its inception, providing continuity and enabling a long-term vision to be realised.