Lightwater Country Park covers an area of approximately 59 hectares and is composed of a variety of habitats, the most dominant being dry lowlands heath. Other habitats include woodland, ponds, grasslands and lowland bog.
There are two trails; the Heathland Trail (marked with lilac on posts) which is approximately 2 kilometres long and the shorter Nature Trail (marked with orange on posts) which is approximately 1.1/2 kilometres long. The Heathland Trail includes an energetic walk to the top of High Curley where there are good views of the surrounding countryside. View information on the Lightwater Country Park.
The Rangers would be pleased to know of any wildlife you see while on the Trail. Contact them on 01276 707166 or email Peter.Maynard@surreyheath.gov.uk or Gordon.Voller@surreyheath.gov.uk at the Rangers Office.
Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)
This bird is the symbol of the Country Park. A bird of scrub and heather it can be seen perched on top of gorse bushes, from which it hunts and surveys its territory. It's name is derived from the noise emitted, a sound described as two stones being struck together in a 'clacking' sound.
The heathland at Lightwater Counry Park is an important fragment of the once vast Bagshot Heath which stretched to Bracknell and Windsor.
Historically heathlands played an important role in rural life providing trees for timber, Gorse and Bracken for fuel and rough grazing for stock. These practices helped in keeping the heathlands open by checking tree and scrub encroachment.
However the past century has seen a decline in the economic use of heathland resulting in scrub invasion making them less attractive to heathland species. Losses have also occurred through road and housing development and land use change, such as golf courses. The heathlands that remain are now highly valued for their associated wildlife and may have special designations.
The Heathland at the Country Park has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA). This means it is of high conservation value and it affords it some protection against development. Today practical management is carried out to ensure the heathlands maintain their characteristic open landscape and wildlife. This is based on traditional practices and includes tree removal, scrub clearance and heather cutting to rejuvenate the stands of heather.
The diverse range of habitat types within the Country Park offer feeding and breeding sites for a variety of wildlife. In the Spring singing birds can be regularly heard along the trails loudly proclaiming their territories. If you are alert you may even catch a glimpse of the birds, for instance Chaffinch, Wren, Great Tit, Willow Warbler and Blackbird. Larger birds to look out for include Jay, Wood Pigeon, Magpie and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Wildfowl are easily observed in and around the lakes, where a variety of species can be seen. During quieter periods larger mammals become active and these include Deer, Badger and Fox. However much more readily seen are the Grey Squirrels which are common throughout the wooded areas.
The Country Park is actively managed for wildlife
The Country Park is just a part of Surrey Heath's Parks and Countryside estate looked after by the Greenspace Team within Cultural & Commercial Services. The Council provide approximately 300 hectares of public open space, which includes a variety of formal parks and recreation grounds, woodland, lakes and heathland. Many of these parks provide opportunities for organised sport while informal leisure pursuits can be enjoyed in all.
The Greenspace Team arrange a programme of walks and events at various sites throughout the year. The Rangers can be available to lead wildlife walks or give talks to groups or schools.