Size: 14ha

Ownership: Waverley Borough Council

Designation: SSSI

Restrictions: Open access land. Please keep dogs on a lead.

Blackheath Carpark

Grid ref: TQ 03646 46197

Blackheath is an important site for reptiles, and several rare heathland specialist invertebrate species also occur here. ARC have also been successfully reintroducing rare sand lizards onto this important site for over 25 years, and if you are lucky you might be able to spot them basking.

The reserve

Located just to the southeast of Guildford, Blackheath is a good example of dry lowland heathland and acidic grassland habitat which extends throughout the area, but is now much diminished and fragmented.

The floral community of the reserve is typical of dry lowland heathland, dominated by ling or common heather, with bell heather, cross leaved heath and dwarf gorse. There are pockets of acid grassland towards the east of the site, where the vegetative structure changes, and wavy hair-grass, pill sedge and lady’s bedstraw can be found.

What to see 

The site supports the four more widely distributed species of native reptile: adder, grass snake, slow worm and viviparous lizard, whilst the rarer species, which had been lost from the site, were reintroduced. Sand lizards were subject to a reintroduction programme on the site, with the first hatchlings being sighted in the summer of 1991. Smooth Snakes were reintroduced subsequently in 2006. In August 2019 staff and volunteers carrying out a reptile survey were lucky enough to witness a baby adder being born on the site!

As well as providing habitat for important native reptile species, Blackheath supports good populations of nationally scarce invertebrate species. These include the silver-studded blue butterfly, the vulnerable lynx spider (Oxyopes heterophthalmus), and a rare beetle, Lomechusa strumosa. This beetle dwells in the nests of the aptly named blood-red robber-ant (Formica sanguinea), our largest native ant, which are also found on these heathlands. 

Photo copyright Gillian Pullinger