Cove Brook Greenway Group is an environmental group in Farnborough, Hampshire, which looks after the Cove Brook. Cove Brook drains off the hills west of Aldershot in north east Hampshire and runs north through Cove, Farnborough, to join the River Blackwater on Hawley Meadows, north west of the M3 motorway at Junction 4.

Cove Brook Greenway Group seeks to improve the greenway for people and wildlife, and is open to everyone. The group holds conservation working parties and open meetings, and works with Rushmoor Borough Council, Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership, the Environment Agency and other parties.

Cove Brook Greenway Group is a group of local residents who see the brook as a valuable asset both for people and wildlife. Meetings and other events are open to everyone and the group can provide resources for schools. The group supports the council with litter picking events in the spring and winter. They also work with council officrs to carry out improvements such as path surfacing. They manage the Birchbrook Reserve off Birchbrook Road as a nature area and also do conservation work on Southwood Meadows. The group has a free quarterly newsletter and four open meetings a year with invited speakers. In the summer, they arrange walks and wildlife surveys. A leaflet describing the work of the group is available here

For information on the management of the brook click here

Its field centre at Blunden Hall has resources for schools and groups.

Wildlife by Cove Brook

There are many wild creatures to be seen around Cove Brook and in Southwood Meadows, such as roe deer, grey herons, foxes, small tortoiseshell butterflies, devil's bit scabious plants and common newt amphibians.

Cove Brook is good for wildlife. While it does not have the best water quality or habitat, which is common for an urban stream, nevertheless it supports good numbers of fish including chub and bullheads which depend on shallow gravels to breed. The brook also supports a lot of other wildlife, such as moorhens, dragonflies, herons and kingfishers.

The green spaces beside the brook provide valuable habitat for butterflies and birds such as woodpeckers, finches and house sparrows.

The open grassland of Southwood Meadows at the southern end of the brook is the best area to spot wildlife but you can usually see plenty of wildlife in the built up area too.

History and Natural History of Cove Brook


Older local people remember farms, fields and towering reedbeds by the brook. Today those have nearly all gone. 16,000 people live within 500 metres of the brook, and many more not much farther off. The farms survive as names of schools and roads, and the brook and its feeder streams have been variously rechannelled,reshaped, piped, put into concrete banks and partly renaturalized.

In the late 18th century, the Basingstoke Canal was built across the brook's headwaters, and one of its main feeder streams is still controlled by a sluice out of the canal. In 1837 the London-Southampton Railway arrived, and the brook was channelled under it through Five Arches Bridge (off Westheath Road).

In the 1850's the Army acquired Cove Common, which later became Farnborough airfield, with the brook running under the main runway. In 1931 the old parish of Cove became part of the urban district of Farnborough, and in the following decades roads and housing covered the rural landscape. Despite that, the brook still provides a welcome green space, with birds and other wildlife to be seen throughout its length.

Open grassland survives at Southwood Meadows, which is preserved as a floodplain to protect the built-up area downstream, Between here and Hawley Lane two miles north, Cove Brook Greenway provides a mostly off-road route along brookside paths.

Natural History

Although Cove Brook meanders through a mainly built-up area it still contains a wide diversity of habitats and open spaces supporting a multitude of species. Two of its feeder streams come from Sites of Special Scientific Interest: the Basingstoke Canal and Eelmoor Marsh (not open to the public), on the southwest edge of Farnborough Airport. The brook itself supports sticklebacks, stone-loach, chubb, roach, pike and crayfish (non-native). Frogs and newts breed in ponds by the brook. Mammals in the area include foxes, bats, voles, field mice, hedgehogs, deer and, less desirably, brown rats. Trees are plentiful and include both native species and ornamental imports - brambles too are common, but there are also patches of dog-rose, hazel, sloe and elderberry.

The best area for wild flowers is Southwood Open Space, where there are orchids (broad - leaved helleborines), sneezewort, great burnet and cuckoo flowers. Crickets and grasshoppers abound, as do solitary bees, butterflies and moths. Lizards may also be seen. At least fourteen species of dragonfly and damselfly have been identified along the brook as a whole, and twenty species of it are regulalry seen on the Greenway, including herons and kingfishers; snipe are also seen at Southwood Open Space. Although the sighting of a rare species can be exciting, many people gain considerable pleasure from the more common species. Local residents look forward to the return of the 'resident' mute swans that have nested annually near Mayfield Road since the late 1990's with varying degrees of success.

The history and natural history of Cove Brook are described in the attached natural history brochure

Volunteers and Working Parties

Working Parties

Volunteers are always welcome. There is an active programme of work maintaining Cove Brook and Southwood Meadows. Details of meetings of the working parties are given in our current programme.

Wildlife Monitoring


The group has a programme of talks related to the work of the group. All are welcome to attend. Typically there are 2 or 3 talks per year on subjects such as conservation and animal welfare, see list of previous talks. For details of forthcoming talks, see our current programme.
Talks are normally held in Blunden Hall, Blunden Rd, Cove, GU14 8QP.


There are many attractive walks in both Southwood Meadows and along the Cove Brook.

Walks are also organised by local walking groups such as Rushmoor Healthy Living Walks or the Ramblers Association.

The meadows and the open ground beside the brook are popular with dog walkers. They are asked to clear up dog mess. Boxes for this are provided.


In 2011, the main footpath beside the Cove Brook was widened and resurfaced to make it accessible to cycles prams, pushchairs, wheelchairs, etc, making it available to all the family. Funding for these improvements were provided by Sustrans, Rushmoor Borough Council, Veolia and TAG Farnborough Airport.


The group organises various events, e.g. in Southwood Meadows. For details, see next event
For more information, click here

Southwood Meadows Grazing Project

The group plans to introduce grazing animals to the meadows to improve wildflower growth. For details, see grazing


Position: The chair
Phone: 07510 881939

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