Download our reserve leaflet here

Laverstock SP4 6DR
OS map 130 Grid ref: SU173320

  • Not suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs
  • Dogs on leads are welcome
  • 6.81 hectares

Cockey Down reserve map © WWT

This chalk downland, offers superb views of Salisbury Cathedral spire and the surrounding countryside.

Cockey Down is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. It has a rich variety of chalk grassland flowers because it has not been ‘improved’ by chemical fertilisers and because a long history of grazing has kept the coarser grasses in check. It is best visited in spring and summer to see orchids, including fragrant and pyramidal, and other flowers such as the nationally scarce field fleawort. The nationally scarce bastard toadflax grows on the steeper slopes, its white star-shaped flowers belying its parasitic nature. Its roots attach themselves to those of nearby plants to draw nutrients and water. A metallic-blue shield bug lives on its sap, found here in late summer.

You can see butterflies such as chalkhill blue, marbled white and dark green fritillary, but keep an eye out for the large, brown-and-yellow-banded hornet robber-fly. Yellowhammers, linnets and willow warblers inhabit the scrub, while meadow pipits and skylarks nest in the long grass. Listen for their song. Raptors such as buzzards, kestrels and sparrowhawks hunt over the down.

There is evidence of Early Bronze Age and Iron Age occupation nearby and the substantial lynchets (terraces) indicate that most of the down was ploughed in the late prehistoric and Roman period.

Dark green fritillary © Stephen Davis Bastard toadflax © ScenesFromHere Sparrow hawk © Darin Smith Chalkhill blue © Stephen Davis


If driving – in Laverstock, accessible from the A338/A343 roundabout, follow signs for the Duck Inn and park. From the Duck Inn follow the bridleway for about one mile, passing the Natural England reserve, onto the chalk slope. Follow footpath to reserve entrance (kissing gates), located in middle of a fence line, half way down the slope. This may be the most scenic route, but is not most direct. It is possible to park near the Church Lane/Bishops Mead roundabout and take the bridleway on the opposite side of the road that leads past Frank W Murphy Limited straight up the hill to the reserve.

If using bus - Visit  for bus routes and times.

If cycling - Follow National Cycle Route The Golden Way to Laverstock. From here, follow the footpath beside Duck Inn (on foot). Visit for more information and for printable maps.

Nearby reserves Blackmoor Copse, The Devenish

What to see locally - Salisbury Cathedral (3 miles), Heale House and Garden (4 miles), Salisbury Racecourse (5 miles), Stonehenge (7 miles)

Cockey Down location map © WWT

(Photo: Cockey Down in Winter © Owain Shaw)