Castle Bottom National Nature Reserve is now home to several free-roaming livestock – 6 Exmoor ponies and 6 Belted Galloway cattle. They are there to help manage the site and keep invasive grasses, birch and bracken to a minimum, whilst breaking up the heather structure and creating bare ground. They do this by munching away at the vegetation and roaming across the heath and through the mire. A more subtle addition to our usual ‘toolbox’ of chainsaws and mowers…




The ongoing welfare of the livestock is vitally important and we check them daily to make sure they are healthy, grazing well and generally seem happy. To assist us with this task, WE NEED YOUR HELP! We already have a few local people who have kindly volunteered to help us ‘looker’ the animals and to monitor their condition. This involves going to Castle Bottom, finding the animals, having a look at them to make sure they are all there, they look healthy and are behaving naturally and reporting any news back to us.


Full training will be given on what to do in different situations, along with a lookers guide and all the relevant contact details. We are ideally looking for someone to help us daytime during the week on Weds, Thurs or Fri.


If you are interested and would like to become a looker please contact us on or 01252 870425.



Trees -from hedgerows to forests, from parks to back gardens, they are a much loved part of the English landscape. This week is National Tree Week.  Initiated in 1975, it is the UK’s largest tree celebration annually launching the start of the winter tree planting season.

There are events happening across the UK, giving people the opportunity to plant trees and get their hands dirty. Further information can be found at  if you are wanting to take part or organise an event.

Many Hampshire County Council Countryside Service sites have lots of trees on them. Herbert Plantation  and Zebon Copse are good places to visit if you like walking through woodland.

Herbert Plantation is a mixed woodland of oak, birch, alder and pine, located in the village of Burghclere, and has some lovely notable trees such as an old Scots Pine with a 5 ½ meter girth and a Wellingtonia.

Zebon Copse Nature Reserve is a mixed broad-leaved woodland with mire habitats adjoining the Basingstoke Canal.

Both these sites are well established woodlands being managed for their mature trees, but whilst we love trees, they are not well suited to all habitats and in the north of the county we also manage a number of rare and protected Heathland habitats where the removal of trees is vital to the survival of a number of plant and animal species.

Next week, we will be receiving a herd of 7 Belted Galloway cattle on to Castle Bottom National Nature Reserve for a short time. Like their equine companions, the Exmoor pony, they are incredibly hardy and at home on a wide range of habitats, preferring to be outdoors all year round. The Belted Galloway’s, or Beltie’s as they are affectionately known, will graze in a slightly different way to the Exmoor Ponies, in that they will trample the bracken and break up the vegetation more. The two groups of livestock grazing together will work very well at keeping birch regrowth and bracken in particular to a minimum.




Beltie’s, typified by the white ‘belt’ around their middle, are generally a very docile breed and not easily phased by people walking past. Typically, they are quite oblivious to people and dogs, and more interested in grazing. They are a small breed, with a hip height of around 130cm. Thanks to their thick undercoat and long wavy overcoat they are able to cope with all weathers very well. The herd will only be with us for a short time, but we hope that you manage to get a glimpse of them as they amble around the heath.


As with the ponies, we ask that people don’t try to get close to them and just enjoy them from a distance. Staff will be checking the livestock daily as they settle in, but if you are interested in helping us looker the animals, please get in touch. If you have any questions regarding the Belted Galloway’s or the Exmoor ponies, please contact us on or 01252 870425.

This week is Wild About Gardens Week, so it’s a good time to get involved and do something at home for wildlife. This is a joint initiative led by the Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society which encourages people to do something for wildlife and provides resources to help you make a difference to your own little patch.

There are various things you could do depending on how much time you have to invest:

Zero time? Why not save yourself some time but not tidying a corner of the garden. Leave any leaves that gather there, allow plants to self-seed (they aren’t weeds if you want them there) and let the grass grow longer. This will provide a home for various bugs which will in turn provide food for other animals such as hedgehogs and birds.

An hour or so? Build a wood pile. This can be a neat stack of logs or a random pile of logs and sticks. It will provide a home for a range of invertebrates and is great for frogs as it provides somewhere to hibernate in winter and a shelter from the hot sun in summer.

Plenty of time? Build a pond to provide a more diverse range of habitats in your garden, while making it a more attractive and pleasurable place for you to be.

For more ideas of things to do and information on Wild About Gardens Week, visit

Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to take time out to just sit in your garden and enjoy the wildlife that shares it with you.

A4 poster Christmas tree event 2017

This years Big Spring Clean held on the 4th March has yet again proved popular with adults and children. The Common is now much tidier and cleaner thanks to the hard work of all those who came along.

167 people spent a total of 300 hours litter picking on a chilly but bright Saturday morning. A huge 82 bags of litter were collected plus many other items, including 3 cones, a car exhaust, 2 wheels and various bits of scrap metal.

Thank you to all of the badge groups, leaders and members of the public who gave up their time to help. This event always proves popular with the local community and is a huge help to the Yateley Ranger team.

Litter picking is something that anyone could get involved with at any time of year, if you would like to give us a helping hand with keeping Yateley Common tidy please contact us at 01252 870425 or



What is the effect of this Order?

Following discussions with local users, Hampshire County Council proposes to make changes to the rights of way network that crosses Yateley Common. The proposed changes will extend the network, whilst also making it easier to use. They will also provide safer crossing points across Vigo Lane. The County Council believes these changes will improve experience for all users. They should also assist with the ongoing management of important habitats and species.


As part of these proposals, Hampshire County Council has made the Diversion Order (link below). If confirmed, it will divert the legal line of several public rights of way onto paths that are in public use today. The goal is to enhance the network by making it safer and easier to use. It is also to preserve the integrity of this nature conservation site of international importance.


For further information, frequently asked questions, or for a copy of the Order please visit the County Council website at

For further information please contact the Countryside Access Team at, or on 01962 847096.

A member of the Countryside Access Team will be available at Yateley Library on 20th February 2017 between 10am and 1pm to answer any questions about the proposals.




(This statement does not form part of the Order)