Know before you go
Parking informationCar parking available, please avoid parking on protected roadside verge
Grazing animalsSheep and cattle
Trail around the reserve, please take special care during nesting season; adders are present on this reserve
A mixture of mown trails with unsurfaced permissive paths through ex-arable fields, can be seasonally boggy, unsuitable for wheelchair users
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitApril to August
About the reserve
This low-lying tract, the largest remaining fragment of the once extensive heathlands of Scotton Common, is covered in its drier parts by ling and by developing oak, birch and pine woodland. At the eastern end of the heath, on ground that was ploughed in the Second World War, wavy hair-grass is dominant. In wetter parts there is much purple moor-grass and cross-leaved heath; rarer species, such as bog asphodel and marsh gentian, also occur. To save it from destruction on a nearby site, the shrubby bog myrtle has been established in the reserve.
Although some species of butterfly have become scarce or even disappeared in recent years, the list of butterflies and moths is impressive and includes many scarce and localised species, including a thriving population of emperor moth. Sandy banks attract solitary mining bees. Breeding birds include tree pipit and woodlark. Adders and common lizards are present.
In 1988 an area of heathy fields of around 16 hectares (40 acres) to the north of the old reserve, known as Scotton Beck Fields, was purchased by the Trust. This area, which is reached by turning right off the access track between the car park and the road via a bridge and stile, is rich in heathland plants, including ling, cross-leaved heath and marsh gentian. The beck and streamside support bur-reed, floating sweet-grass, fool's water-cress, water mint and water forget-me-not. The old meanders contain kingcup, cuckooflower and marsh violet.
In the mid 1990s the reserve was extended with the purchase of Loates Field (22 acres) and adjoining arable land (55 acres). Over time with suitable grazing management these fields are being reverted back to acid grassland.
Scotton Common is dedicated to Joe Dunnington, a well-known local lepidopterist who died in 1992 at the age of 81. There is a memorial stone near the car park.
Nearest postcode DN21 3PY. Please note - postcodes are for the nearest registered address as we are unable to get postcodes for nature reserves.