Thursley National Nature Reserve
Thursley NNR is one of the largest remaining fragments of a once extensive area of heathland in Surrey. The reserve includes large areas of open dry heathland, peat bogs, ponds, pine and deciduous woodlands, home to a thriving and varied wildlife. Common heather (or ‘ling’) and bell heather are the dominant species in the areas of dry heath, which is home to ground-nesting birds such as stonechat and woodlark. Many reptiles also favour this habitat, and at Thursley all six native species can be found. The silver-studded blue butterfly is also found here. The valley mire or bog supports plants such as sphagnum mosses and plants and the carnivorous sundew, alongside the displays of early marsh orchid in the early summer. Later in the summer the delicate yellow flowers of the bog asphodel come into bloom. The open ponds and ditches are home to the bog raft spider and over 20 different species of dragonflies and damselflies. These insects attract the attention of the summer visiting bird of prey, the hobby.
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About The area
Surrey may be better known for its suburbia than its scenery, but the image is unjust. Over a quarter of the county’s landscapes are official Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and along the downs and the greensand ridge you can gaze to distant horizons with hardly a building in sight. This is one of England’s most wooded counties, and has more village greens than any other shire. You’ll find sandy tracks and cottage gardens, folded hillsides and welcoming village inns. There’s variety, too, as the fields and meadows of the east give way to the wooded downs and valleys west of the River Mole.
Of course there are also large built-up areas, mainly within and around the M25; but even here you can still find appealing visits and days out. On the fringe of Greater London you can picnic in Chaldon’s hay meadows, explore the wide open downs at Epsom, or drift idly beside the broad reaches of the stately River Thames. Deep in the Surrey countryside you’ll discover the Romans at Farley Heath, and mingle with the monks at England’s first Cistercian monastery. You’ll see buildings by great architects like Edwin Lutyens and Sir George Gilbert Scott, and meet authors too, from John Donne to Agatha Christie.
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