Chobham Common – Birding Walks around the Common
Here are some suggestions for a walk on Chobham Common. There are alternative routes which can make the walk longer or shorter. On the map are some letters marked which show how to lengthen or shorten the walk. The full walk, by parking in Staple Hill car park, will probably take over 2 hours and is about 6 Km long. The short walk from Staple Hill car park starting at point H and returning to the car park at point G will probably take about 30 minutes – not allowing for the birdwatching – (just over 1 Km long) and give a good chance of seeing the heathland’s specialities namely Dartford Warbler, Stonechat and Woodlark. On a summer evening you should also find Nightjar and Woodcock.
Alternatively take a medium walk from Jubilee Mount car park starting and finishing at point A which would take (depending on whether any of the shortcuts offered are taken) between 1.5 and 2 hours being approximately 5 Km long.
Both car parks are run by Surrey Wildlife Trust. Parking charges apply and, as at summer 2019, it costs £2.60 for up to 2 hours, £3.90 for up to 3 hours and £5 for over three hours. Pay by mobile phone or at the ticket machine which takes debit and credit cards. The grid reference for Staple Hill car park is SU97648 and the grid reference for Jubilee Mount car park is SU973645.
The Full Walk or a Very Short Walk
If doing the full walk then park in Staple Hill car park at point H. By the car park ticket machine there is a track going off to the left (assuming facing the motorway). Walk towards the motorway and after about 10 m there is a seat. Bear left and continue following the track. The track splits, do not go straight on but follow the right hand track bearing downhill through the gorse. In the gorse on the left is a good chance of both Stonechat and Dartford Warbler. Reach a flat section where a track comes in from the left, ignore that track and also another track which comes in from the left. Continue bearing right and downhill. To the right is an underpass going underneath the motorway. To explore other areas of Chobham Common go under the motorway here but this walk goes straight on leaving the motorway to the right. In this area here there is a possibility of displaying Skylark and, in the spring, Lapwing can be seen. After a flat section start gently walking uphill. The track ahead suddenly appears to become quite narrow and, at this point, there is a public footpath going off to the left (it is quite a short but steep uphill section on a gravel track). This is the footpath to follow. The gorse here has been cut back to make this quite a wide open area so it should be a good area for Woodlark. After the steep section uphill then walk downhill. This might be slippery after rain. The path then bears left and does a sharp right turn and, at the bottom, at the crossroads turn left. This is again an area of gorse and heather and there are a few tracks going off to the left and right but ignore these and carry on along the main track until an open area by a gate next to Staple Hill Road (point G on the map).
If just on the short walk turn left then follow the narrow track which runs parallel with Staple Hill Road (leaving Staple Hill Road on the right) and return to Staple Hill car park
For the full walk cross Staple Hill Road and go through the gate. Turn right onto a track which runs parallel with Staple Hill Road. Follow this track for approximately 400 m. Although the track starts wide it becomes quite narrow as it enters deciduous woodland (mainly birch) and this area is good for Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Tit species. After a short distance enter Jubilee Mount car park (point A on the map) and join the medium walk
The Medium Walk (which starts and ends at Jubilee Mount car park and does not cross Staple Hill Road)
Leave Jubilee Mount car park (A) by the car park sign. Leave the sign to your right and come to a map of Chobham Common. There is then a choice of paths. Take the left hand one. The two paths do meet at the bottom of the hill but the left hand one goes down a less steep slope and has some wooden steps on it. However both paths are quite steep and can be slippery after rain. At the bottom of the slope come out of the woodland and enter an area of gorse (and in the summer bracken) with a choice of paths. One path goes through a gate into the area where the cattle graze and this is the public footpath to follow so do not take the path which goes off to the right. Although following the public footpath it goes through an area where Belted Galloway graze (they are very friendly). Also do note that the path is quite narrow in places and has gorse overhanging it. This area is good for Nightjars in the summer and Stonechat, Linnet and Goldfinch all year. A number of tracks bear off to the left from this path but continue on the public footpath so, aim in the direction of a pylon where the woodland, seen in the distance, ends. After going through a second gate (leaving the area grazed by the cattle) a track comes in from the right but keep bearing slightly left towards the pylons and a tree known as the Lone Pine. Join a wide main track. Bear right here and, after about 10 metres, join another main track with lots of public footpath signs on it. Here again turn right and walk down a gentle slope into some deciduous woodland. At the bottom of this slope is a crossroads with public footpath signs. This is point B where you can take the public footpath going off to the left to reduce the length of the walk. This comes out at point D. However, if on the full walk, continue walking straight on through deciduous woodland. A scrapyard is on the right and, where it ends, is another crossroads. An option is to turn left here (point C) to reduce the length of the walk slightly, but the main walk continues straight on down the widest track. Again this is a good area for Stonechat, Dartford Warbler, Nightjar and Woodcock (the latter two being at dusk also Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Long-tailed Tits. Go past 3 gas pipeline signs and, just after the third one (slightly hidden in the gorse) turn left onto a public footpath.
After about 600 m walk into an area of deciduous woodland. This is where the shortcut from point C comes in (at CD). Continue walking straight on with fields on either side. The fields can be good for Jackdaws, Pheasant, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Pied Wagtail. Just after the fields come to another crossroads (point D) which is where the shortcut from Point B comes in. This area is good for Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Carry walking straight on through what is, in 2019, a burnt area. After approximately 200 m is another crossroads. Here turn left. It is not marked as a footpath. This section of the walk can be muddy in winter but does have a section of boardwalks on it. The start of this section is still affected by the fire (which happened on Good Friday 2019). After five stretches of boardwalk is the end of the burnt area and an overhanging pine tree. This area is good for both Stonechat and Dartford Warbler with both breeding here in 2019. The area to the right is known as Langshot Bog and, in the winter, is very boggy. After about 800 metres is a final stretch of boardwalk and another choice of paths (about 15 metres after that last bit of boardwalk). This is point E on the map. The options are to go straight on through heathland or turn right in order to walk through a stretch of woodland. The woodland path is a more gentle walk uphill although neither is steep. The two paths meet up again at Point F.
If staying on the heathland path, which used to be good for Kestrel but is now good for displaying Woodlark, walk uphill to a junction. This area is good not for not only Dartford Warbler and Stonechat but also Whitethroat. At this junction turn right, shortly afterwards the track passes underneath cables supported by pylons. This track has been good for Silver Studded Blue Butterflies in the past. The track bears around to the left (this is where the woodland option Points E to F comes in) and a small lake becomes visible on the right. Ignore the track running down to the lake. On the lake might be Mallard and Moorhen. Water Rail have been heard there in the past.
The track has pines on the left and deciduous woodland on the right. A pair of Woodlark were in this area in 2019. A small weather station comes into view straight ahead and then a wide main sandy track. Here turn right. Here the common is a wet area on both sides of the track and Reed Bunting have been heard here most years. The track walks gently uphill to a crossroads where there is another BP pipeline sign. At this crossroads turn left and walk along another main track. After approximately 500 metres come to another crossroads and go straight on. This area is very good for Stonechat and Whitethroat (to the left) with Skylark often singing on the right. Meadow Pipit are also seen in this area, especially in winter. This area is also good for Green Woodpeckers.
After walking on a flat section come to a relatively steep slope. At the top (Point G) is a track ahead and, beyond the track, the gate to Staple Hill Road. To return to Jubilee Mount car park turn left and walk along the track. To return to Staple Hill car park cross the road, go through the gate, turn right and then follow the narrow track which runs parallel with Staple Hill Road (leaving Staple Hill Road on the right)