Size: 17ha

Ownership: Ministry of Defence

Designation: SSSI

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

Access: Layby Off A325

Grid ref: SU 80028 37220

Broxhead Common is a rich mosaic of heathland, acid grassland and secondary woodland, which supports sand lizards, rare heathland birds, and nationally rare invertebrate species.

The reserve

Located on the coarse sandy soils of the Folkestone Beds on the western edge of the Weald, Broxhead Common consists of a typical dry heathland plant community, dominated by common heather or ling and bell heather, with dwarf gorse and wavy hair-grass. The more acid grassland areas are dominated by wavy-hair grass and common bent grass, and support a rich associated flora including an abundance of lichens and mosses. the site Also features a native deciduous woodland edge and numerous young oak trees on the heath itself.

In these habitats, five native reptile species can be found: adder, grass snake, viviparous lizard, slow worm and the sand lizard. Originally extinct at this site, the presence of sand lizards is now due to a successful reintroduction in 1997, and the released individuals are now thriving with good breeding records each year.

The ponds which occur naturally in hallows and depressions where the water table is slightly nearer to the ground also support our native amphibians including: palmate and smooth newts, and provide breeding areas for common toads and common frogs.  they are also great places to find dragonflies in the summer.

Sand lizard reintroduction

Sand lizards were once widespread across the dry sandy lowland heaths of the UK. However, over the last century the deterioration, fragmentation and destruction of their heathland habitats has resulted in rapid declines in this charismatic little animal. Responding to this desperate situation, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation have reintroduced sand lizards back into to a number of the sites they once inhabited. These sites are now carefully managed for this species, to ensure they remain a part of our heathland heritage.

What to see

  • A variety of specialised heathland birds throughout the year including the Dartford warbler and woodlark. Also watch out for the characteristic tail flicking of stonechats perched on taller stands of heather or small pine scrub.
  • Invertebrate species specific to heathlands, such as the silver-studded blue and grayling butterflies. Graylings have fantastically cryptic underwings, and seem to blend into the ground when then land. Hundreds of Silver Studded Blues can be seen on the wing at the height of their flight period in early June.