Size: 48 Ha

Ownership: ARC

Designation: SSSI, SAC, SPA, Ramsar

Restrictions: Open Access Land, please keep dogs on a lead.

Access: Morden Road, Wareham B3075

Grid ref: SY 92335 90411

A large area of heath situated in the picturesque surroundings of Morden Heath. A great place to visit to see all the heathland rarities and possibly the odd rare migrant bird.

The Reserve

Great Ovens consists of mainly dry heath that would have been part of the much larger
complex of Wareham Forest which would of originally stretched all the way down to the Purbeck Ridge. The nearby village of Sandford had an extensive pottery industry between 1850 and 1940 and the reserve was extensively quarried during this period creating a unique landscape for amphibians and reptiles.

Great Ovens was purchased by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation in 1996 with the use of a National Lottery grant. In 2020 a Forest Enterprise and ARC partnership extended the open reserve to the north by another 1.6 hectares.

What to see:

At the northern end of the reserve is a large hill with a south facing aspect known as White Hill, this area as with the rest of the site is ideal for sand lizards due to its heather structure and large areas of open sand.

Grading down from the bottom of White Hill is a large area of wet heath which eventually grades back up into a mix of dry heath and dwarf gorse making this whole area ideal for smooth snakes.

Heading further south across the reserve two ponds can be found, one relatively new and the other more established. Both ponds are excellent for a large array of dragonfly species as well as palmate newt and smooth newt as well as grass snake. The ponds have formed in an area of the reserve used historically for clay extraction, the result of which is favourable topography for sand lizards.

The reserve as a whole is also good for migrant bird species including the great grey shrike and nightjar, and if you are lucky a possible glimpse of a passing Osprey.