Studham Common, in South Bedfordshire, has been used as common land for centuries. Today this beautiful open space is a highly prized feature of the village, valued by the community as a place of recreation and a haven for wildlife. The common is in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a designated County Wildlife Site.
Studham lies 10km (6miles) west of the M1 (Junction 9 or 10) and the A5. It is 6km (4miles) due south of Dunstable on the B4541 and 12km (7miles) north of Hemel Hempstead, just off the A4146.
There are small car parks on East and Middle Commons.
The walk starts and ends at the War Memorial on West Common, close to the Red Lion PH.
Length: 1½ miles (2.4 km)
Time: 1 hour
Access Information: Pending Update
About Studham Common
Studham Common, in South Bedfordshire, has been used as common land for centuries. Today this beautiful open space is a highly prized feature of the village, valued by the community as a place of recreation and a haven for wildlife. The common is in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a designated County Wildlife Site. Its rich mosaic of habitats - grassland, woodland, scrub thickets and hedgerows - supports an abundance of wildlife, including endangered and rare species such as the skylark and the doormouse.
Since medieval times the common was used by the local people for grazing, collecting wood and extracting gravel. More recently, the grassland areas were ploughed up for growing vegetables during World War II, destroying the local flora. The good news is that careful management since the 1960s has encouraged the return of a large number of indigenous plants, along with the wildlife that thrives on them. The common is owned by South Bedfordshire District Council which is responsible for its overall management. Much of the day to day work is undertaken by the Friends of Studham Common (FOSC).
Wildlife on the Common
The common covers 154 acres divided into three areas. East and Middle Commons are mainly open grassland, bordered by hedgerows or scrub thickets. West Common, the smallest, is a mix of woodland, scrub thickets and a small playing field which serves as the village green.
The unusual combination of clay soil overlying chalk supports an interesting variety of plants. These offer rich habitats for a wide range of insects, birds and small mammals, some of which have been declining in numbers elsewhere. Over 200 plant species, 26 species of butterfly and over 20 species of bird have been recorded. Skylarks, which are in national decline, breed in the grassland area and fill the air with their beautiful song in spring.
The common's eastern boundary is an ancient hedgerow dating back at least to medieval times. It is one of only two sites in the county where the dormouse, a rare, protected species, is found.
The 'clay-with-flints' grassland is of special value. It is one of the few habitats of this type remaining in Bedfordshire. In summer, the meadow grasses and flowers are a wonderful sight and provide food and protection to a host of butterflies, insects and small animals.
Up until the 1930s, sheep and cattle made a vital contribution to wildlife diversity by controlling the growth of invasive plants. This includes scrub plants, bracken and rough grasses. Today, control is achieved through mowing the grassland and cutting back vigorous weeds in the hedgerows and wooded areas.
Caring for the Common
The Friends of Studham Common (FOSC), with support from the North Chilterns Trust (NCT), help to conserve and promote the common as a haven for wildlife and a place to be enjoyed and appreciated by all. In 2001, a five-year Management Plan was drawn up by the NCT, in consultation with the District Council, FOSC and the general public. Its main aims are to:
i) Protect and enhance the wildlife diversity of the common
ii) Improve public access in order to encourage wider use
iii) Raise local awareness of the common's value and support for safeguarding it.
The Friends of Studham Common
FOSC was formed in 1997 with 30 volunteers. Our aim is to maintain and improve the common for the benefit of wildlife and people. Once a month, on a Saturday, we undertake conservation activities as recommended in the Management Plan. This includes clearing footpaths and scrub areas, restoring hedgerows, tree care and providing nesting boxes for bats, birds and dormice. We are an informal and friendly group, with regular social events and opportunities to learn about wildlife in the area. Through affiliation with Beds CC Parish Paths Partnership we also have access to training and other conservation activities. These range from badger-watching and First Aid courses to learning how to use a brushcutter safely! We warmly welcome new members of all ages and support of all kinds. Join us and help to keep the Common beautiful for everyone.
Contact: John McDougal on 01582 873257.
The Countryside Code
Please remember the old country code:-
TAKE nothing but photographs - LEAVE nothing but footprints
There are litter bins and dog waste bins in the car parks
Please do not pick wild flowers or dig up plants
Local by-laws do not permit cars, motor bikes, lighting of fires or flying model aircraft on the common
Do not leave valuables in your parked car
For more information, visit the Friends of Studham Common website. Click here
This leaflet was produced by the Friends of Studham Common.