Swinley Forest is an area of mainly coniferous forest lying just south of Bracknell town in Berkshire, UK. It is bounded by Nine Mile Ride in the north, Bagshot Road in the east, Bagshot town, Camberly town and the Royal Military Acadamy in the south and Sandhurst and Crowthorne in the west. The area most people think of as Swinley Forest is actually two sections of forest, Bramshill Forest (or Crowthorne Wood) occupying about one eighth of the area on the western side and Swinley Forest itself occupying the remainder. Bramshill Forest, showing in the checker board area on the left of the map, is owned and managed by The Forestry Commission and Swinley is owned and managed by The Crown Estate. For simplicity throughout this website I will use the phrase Swinley Forest (abbreviated to "The Forest" or "SF" at times) to describe both areas.
Swinley Forest, Bramshill Forest & Crowthorne Wood
© OpenStreetMap contributors
The Forest is around 2,700 acres in size so provides a significant area of countryside accessible to the general public for walking, bird watching, cycling and other countryside activites. Bracknell Forest Council provides some support to the forest as a public amenity. Located in the Forest is The Look Out Discovery Centre. It is describes as a Hands on science exhibition centre with coffee shop and play area and is very popular with families with young children.
Swinley Forest is designated as part of the Thames Valley Special Protected Area because it is home to 3 varieties of rare and protected bird species:- Dartford Warblers, Woodlarks and Nightjars. The area also provides habitat for several rare insects and plants. The birds are ground nesting and make use of the open heather covered areas for breeding so visitors are requested not to disturb them during the breeding season, i.e. March to August. There are also a small herd of roe deer and some claim muntjac. The later are very timid and although I think I have seen one I am not totally convinced. The roe deer are much less timid and can often be seen quite close at dawn and dusk especially at the edges of the more open areas where they can dart into the trees if they become disturbed.
An important feature of the SF, and probably the main reason for this website, is that within a very small area there are archaeological sites from 6 different historical eras. Most of these site lie within the western third of the forest. Unfortunately there has been very little archaeological study of the sites in recent times and there is now a real danger of the sites becoming lost despite their significance to our history and heritage. Most of the history is derived from documentation dating from the 1800s. An aim of this site is to gather together as much as possible of the existing information and to stimulate a desire for modern investigation and presentation of the features to the public. Unfortunately the sites have been relatively neglected over the last couple of hundred years despite their potential importance and I believe that while it is not too late to preserve what remains - and indeed the Crown Estate is showing interest in so doing - we have permanently lost much of the site's original glory. I hope that this website will contribute to an increased public awareness and pressure to preserve and present so many unique features for the future.
I cannot be totally sure of the accuracy of the old documentation and some is contradictory but I have tried as far as I can to present all known views and hope that if and when further investigation occurs we will be able to be more precise. In the absence of better information I have also presented some of my own theories based on the information available and will highlight those theories in the text where appropriate.
...please make a donation to help support its development and hosting.