About Chailey Common
Chailey Common is one of the largest commons in the south of England and a Local Nature Reserve since 1966. The common is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its heathland and diverse insect and bird communities.
Chailey Common stretches over 180 hectares (450 acres) and includes Red House Common, Memorial Common, Romany Ridge Common, Pound Common and Lane End.
What will you find?
Chailey Common is dominated by heathers. There are small colonies of blue flowering Marsh Gentian, Bog Asphodel and Sundew as well as beautiful summer displays of Heath-Spotted Orchid.
The heather and gorse provide a habitat for many birds including the Stonechat, Yellowhammer and Linnet. The Nightjar and Hobby are also regular summer visitors. The commons are home to several native adders and common lizards with many small ponds providing homes for a variety of amphibians.
The site is grazed in rotation by Hebridean sheep, Exmoor ponies and Longhorn cattle. They help keep the birch saplings, brambles and rank grasses at bay. There is always at least one of the commons without any grazing animals.
Walking, cycling and access
Chailey Common is open access, although we ask you to keep to the footpaths to prevent disturbance to wildlife.
Dogs are welcome but dog owners are asked to clean up after their dogs (multi-purpose bins are provided in all of the car parks). Please keep dogs under close control, particularly around livestock and during the bird nesting and breeding season (April to September).
Horse riding is permitted on the commons. Please respect other users by not riding at speed. Please also keep away from grazing animals.
Cycling is not permitted on the commons.
How to get there
The commons are situated where the A275 meets the A272.
For bus information, see bus timetables and maps.
The nearest railway stations are Haywards Heath and Cooksbridge.
Car parking (with a height restriction of 2m) is available at the following locations:
- Lane End Common on Fletching Common Road (reference: TQ403222)
- Red House Common on Warrs Hill Lane (reference: TQ392219) (there is no height barrier at Red House so horse boxes and larger vehicles can access this car park)
- Memorial Common layby on the A272 (reference: TQ389205)
- Pound Common on North Common Road (reference: TQ377206)
- Romany Ridge Common on North Common Road (reference: TQ378208)
Management and history
Chailey Common is managed by Lewes District Council and they are responsible for:
- car parks
- public access
- public safety
- litter and fly tipping - Lewes and Eastbourne District Council
The Local Nature Reserve (LNR) is currently being managed under the Higher Level Stewardship funded by Natural England and administered by East Sussex County Council.
- Email: Countryside Maintenance Team
Red House Common Wildlife Refuge
From April to July you will see some temporary path closures on the north slope of Red House Common. This is to protect some of our most sensitive wildlife from disturbance during the breeding season.
Please help by using the main marked paths and keeping your dog under close control.
In particular, we hope to encourage Nightjars to breed. As these birds nest on the ground, they are very vulnerable to disturbance.
Please see our site notice [371.4 KB] [pdf] to see a map of the restricted access area.
Find out more on about wildlife on Chailey Commons.