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Snelsmore Common, Berkshire

Home > Reading > Animals and Wildlife | Outdoor | Parks | Picnic Spots | Walks
Published May 11th 2021
Exotic Beasts in Berkshire
Snelsmore Common is a country park a few miles from Newbury, with a picnic area and a small cafe. It's a popular choice for a family day out in Berkshire and a great place for children to learn about nature.

Directions can be found on the wildlife trust's website. You might also want to print off a crayon rubbing sheet for the children.

As you head into the park, keep an eye out for ponies. They tend to stay close to the main entrance, so try looking amongst the trees on either side of the car park.

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There are usually at least nine ponies on the common


One of the best places on the common is the dragonfly pond, which is hidden away in a quiet corner. From the main entrance, take the second left and you'll soon see a set of six overhead telegraph wires. Follow the six wires through the heathland and across a valley, and you'll eventually find the pond in a wooded area.

You can spot different dragonflies here throughout summer. August is my favourite time to visit, as you have a good chance of seeing southern hawkers. This species of dragonfly is known for being curious. They usually come and have a close look at you, often hovering right in front of your face. This gives you just long enough to take a photo.

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Southern hawker posing for the camera


The other nice thing about visiting in August is that the heather will be in full bloom, turning the common a beautiful purple. You can also practice your wildlife spotting skills by hunting for grasshoppers or butterflies.

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Small tortoiseshell butterfly


Finally, Snelsmore is one of the best places in Berkshire to spot reptiles. It does depend on the weather, but on a good day, I've seen as many as eight common lizards on a walk around the common.

The trick is to look for good sunbathing spots. Keep an eye out for sunny little gaps in the heather, and you may see a lizard soaking up the rays.

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Common lizard enjoying the sun


There are also adders here, so it's important to stick to the path and keep children and dogs out of the heather. Adders are very timid and will try to avoid you, but you may get a painful bite if you stand on one.

Personally, I think we're lucky to have such an exotic animal living in Berkshire.

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Taken from a safe distance away!


There's a lot to see here, and this article has only scratched the surface of wildlife living on the common. What are your favourites?
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Why? Best place for a family picnic
When: All year, August is especially good
Where: A short drive from Newbury, Berkshire
Cost: Free, donations welcomed at the car park
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