Nature and parks

Bentley Priory Nature Reserve

Summer House Lake, Bentley Priory Nature Reserve

Bentley Priory Nature Reserve is a 55 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserve located in Stanmore.

The nature reserve consists of unimproved neutral grassland, scrub, wetland, streams and an artificial lake.

The nature reserve can be accessed from Common Road, Priory Drive, Aylmer Drive, Embry Way, Old Lodge Way, Bentley Way and Masefield Avenue.

Click the links below for more information about Bentley Priory Nature reserve:

Harrow Nature Conservation Forum:
www.harrowncf.org/BP_home.html

Harrow Council's "Parks in Harrow" section:
http://www.harrow.gov.uk/info/200165/harrow_s_parks/30/bentley_priory_nature_reserve

Stanmore Common

Stanmore Common is the open space in Harrow with the greatest sense of wildness. Visitors to Stanmore Common have often remarked 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:

  • Mature 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.

  • Acid 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how the “golden sheen of the furze blossoms spreading over more than two hundred acres” she remembered from 1880 had been replaced by birch woodland.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 summer’s day.

A project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund will in 2012-2015 perform a similar but largerscale restoration of Bluebell Heath. Bands of scrub will be cleared, 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 communities.

Wetlands 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.

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.

How to find the reserve

The number 142 bus runs along the A4140 “The Common” while the junction of the A4140 “The Common” and the A409 Common Road is served by the 258 bus. There is a car park off Warren Lane (nearest post code HA7 3HJ, map reference TQ 1600 9354). 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 place 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 as 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.

 

Work to improve Stanmore Common has been funded by Harrow Council's Green Grid initiative. Click here to find out more about Harrow Council's Green initiative.

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We are a non-profit organisation and welcome any kind of support. If you would like to support us, please check out the Contact us page for more information.

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Charity No. 294467. Registered with the Civic Trust