Countryside

The beautiful countryside spaces in Guildford are free for you to enjoy all year round.

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We own and manage 50 countryside sites covering an area of nearly 700ha, 2.5% of the borough's land area, including woodland, meadows and heathland.

These areas contribute to a network of publicly accessible countryside as well as wildlife habitat managed by other landowners.

It is our aim to make our countryside accessible and enjoyable for all, while providing habitat for wildlife. We manage our sites so that future generations are able to enjoy the same or improved nature areas.

Two of our heathland sites and Shalford Water Meadows are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and we currently have five Local Nature Reserves.

As the landowner, Guildford Borough Council has an obligation to protect and safeguard the Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and registered Commons for future generations.

Fire safety

Please note we do not allow BBQs on any of our open spaces or countryside sites.

The Countryside Code

When visiting the countryside please follow the Countryside Code, which sets out responsibilities for visitors to the countryside and those who manage the land:

  • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs

  • Leave gates and property as you find them

  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home

  • Keep dogs under close control

  • Consider other people.

You can read more about the The Countryside Code.

Come and volunteer with us!

Countryside volunteers
If you want to help with local conservation work, make friends, learn a new skill or just get some exercise - come and join Guildford's Countryside Volunteers.

What's involved?

Our Countryside Wardens lead practical conservation tasks across the borough all year round, with their volunteers. Together we manage many of Guildford's beautiful open spaces.

  • The sessions run from 9.30am to 2pm.

  • No previous experience is needed, just enthusiasm, a raincoat, and sturdy footwear.

  • Conservation tasks are open to everyone over 18.

  • We welcome new volunteers.

Tools and equipment provided  

All tools, safety gear and supervision are provided by the Wardens. They will also explain how to use hand tools safely and explain why the tasks need to be carried out. 

Tea and coffee are provided, but please bring your own lunch.

Contact us

To find out more, please email: countrysidevolunteers@guildford.gov.uk

Please let us know in advance if you are joining us.

Volunteering calendar

Sessions run from 9.30am to 2pm - please bring a packed lunch!

Thursday 15 November

  • Site: Pirbright Heaths

  • Meet: At the site entrance, next to the Pirbright Institute, GU24 0NF

  • Task: Cutting young pine and birch to enhance heather (heathland management)

Saturday 1 December

  • Site: Pewley Downs

  • Meet: At the top of Pewley Hill, by the allotment gates.

  • Task: Various site management tasks

Thursday 13 December

  • Site: Pirbright Heathlands

  • Meet: To be confirmed

  • Task: Pulling/cutting young pine and birch regrowth, includes a bonfire

Saturday 5 January

  • Site: Pewley Downs

  • Meet: At the top of Pewley Hill, by the allotment gates.

  • Task: Various site management tasks

Thursday 17 January

  • Site: Abbotswood Paddock

  • Meet: Park in Abbotswood Road and walk (3 minutes) to the site.

  • Task: Cutting back scrub around the margins, includes a bonfire

Saturday 2 February

  • Site: Pewley Downs

  • Meet: At the top of Pewley Hill, by the allotment gates.

  • Task: Various site management tasks

Thursday 21 February

  • Site: Thorneycroft Woodland

  • Meet: Park on track by pedestrian crossing between the Spectrum and WildWood (look for the Land Rover)

  • Task: Cutting young sycamore regrowth, includes a bonfire

Saturday 2 March

  • Site: Pewley Downs

  • Meet: At the top of Pewley Hill, by the allotment gates.

  • Task: Various site management tasks

Thursday 21 March

  • Site: Shalford Water Meadows

  • Meet: To be confirmed

  • Task: Cutting young Broom scrub, includes a bonfire

 

Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG)

SANGs are green spaces that provide recreation opportunities in a natural setting to reduce visitor pressure within the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area.

Whether you want somewhere to walk your dog, or you like to relax and enjoy natural scenery, these sites are ideal for you and your family to visit.

There are currently four SANG sites in the borough:

  • Chantry Wood

  • Effingham Common

  • Lakeside Nature Reserve

  • Riverside Nature Reserve

 

Special Protection Areas (SPAs)

Certain areas of heathland within the Thames Valley are designated as the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBH SPA) under European law. These areas support populations of vulnerable birds.

The TBH SPA includes areas of heathland across Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, covering 11 different local authorities including our borough.

For more information, please read our page on Special Protection Areas (SPAs).