The defence training estate
Find out about regional training areas and operational support, managed by the MOD's Defence Infrastructure Organisation
Over two thirds of the 240,000 hectares of land owned by the MOD is held solely for the purpose of training the armed forces. This land is known as the defence training estate.
The training estate comprises 16 major armed forces training areas, and 104 other minor training areas, ranges and camps.
There are 6 regional training areas covering the whole of the UK:
- North (including Otterburn)
- Scotland (including Northern Ireland)
- South east (including Home Counties)
- South west (including Salisbury Plain)
- Wales & west
There are also training areas of varying size and complexity used by the MOD overseas, including:
- Germany: Sennelager
- Belize: 5 training areas
- Brunei: 2 jungle training areas
- Kenya: 13 training areas
- Canada: 1 training area (3 times the size of Salisbury Plain Training Area)
The defence training estate is managed to ensure that it delivers military training facilities which prepare the armed forces for operations worldwide.
There is an average daily throughput of 9,000 service personnel on the defence training estate.
The National Training Estate Prime (NTEP) contract
The National Training Estate Prime (NTEP) contract came into force on 1 November 2014.
On behalf of the DIO, Landmarc provides management services under the contract. Landmarc acts on behalf of the MOD to ensure that all military units undertaking training are successfully and efficiently booked-in, received, accommodated, fed, refuelled, cleaned for and provided with safe and functional training facilities throughout their stay. Landmarc also ensures that the facilities and training areas are maintained appropriately and that the MOD’s wider obligations as steward of the designated conservation areas, protected species and heritage assets, are equally met.
The NTEP contract particularly focuses on servicing training camps, ranges and training areas used by HM Forces (Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army, Royal Air Force) at all stages of their military career, from recruit training up to pre-deployment operations training.
Private and commercial use
Not all parts of the training estate are required for training purposes every day of the week.
As long as proposed activities do not interfere with any of the armed forces’ vital training activities, this spare capacity can be hired out for private or commercial use. The income generated helps to reduce the financial burden on the taxpayer.
The training estate has been used for many purposes, from filming to falconry, motor sports to model aircraft flying and corporate training events to concerts.
DIO SD Training
Land Warfare Centre
Tel: 01985 222050
Public information leaflets
This site is a small rifle range in the undulating countryside of Cambridgeshire.
A small network of public rights of way, including the locally promoted Whitwell Way, (which is open at all times) connect the local villages across fields.
The training area is used for live firing. Red flags are flown during the day and red lamps are lit at night during firing periods at which time access is prohibited to the range danger area.
Telephone: 01206 736149
Beckingham training area
An area of grassland lying in the floodplain of the River Witham where the waterlogged fields in winter and sympathetic management has resulted in a rich variety of wild plants. In addition to enjoying the plants you will also find a wide range of insects and some interesting birds. The site is adjacent to Stapleford Wood.
There is a network of public rights of way mainly in the western area of the site.
The training area is used for live firing. There is no access at any time to the live firing danger area.
Live firing notices are issued to local parishes and the police.
Telephone: 01636 626367
This is a remote area, south of Colchester, with much of the site below sea level, consisting of reclaimed wetland and marsh. The site extends out into the Colne Estuary, renowned as one of Essex’s prettiest estuaries, with attractive waterside communities and contrasting landscapes of woodland, fields and marshes.
The marshland area of Fingringhoe Ranges is part of the Colne Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is also designated a Ramsar site and a Special Protection Area (SPA). There is a nature reserve to the north east of the site.
A public right of way follows the northern and western boundaries of the site.
The training area is used for live firing. There is no access to the range danger area.
Telephone: 01206 736149
Middlewick ranges and Friday Woods training area
Colchester is a large garrison town. Middlewick Ranges and Friday Woods training area are to the south of the town and include both live firing ranges and areas used for dry training, not involving live firing.
The areas are a mixture of woodland, arable cropping and grassland, incorporating Donyland Woods. Some of the land is designated as part of the Roman River Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Public rights of way, including footpaths and bridleways, run through parts of the ranges and training area.
The range area is used for live firing. Red flags are flown during day and red lamps are lit at night during live firing periods during which time access is prohibited to the live firing range danger area.
The Friday Woods dry training area is a very popular area for local dog walkers.
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Telephone: 01206 736149
Stanford training area consists of almost 11,000 hectares of heath, woodland and farmland used for a wide range of army training activities, including live firing.
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Access is not allowed when the red flags situated at each end of the walk are flying. It is therefore advisable to check the access times with the range control prior to a visit to the area.
Telephone: 01842 855235 (8:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays)
Cattering training area
Catterick training area is located on the eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales, south of the market town of Richmond.
The area’s military history dates from as far back as 1798. Later, General Lord Baden-Powell, based in Richmond from 1908 to 1910, was tasked by the War Office to establish a military training area in the north of England and he chose Catterick. Its status as a permanent training centre was secured in 1921 and a period of intensive building followed. The land comprising the current training area was acquired between 1921 and 1985.
In conjunction with military training, Catterick training area is predominantly used for extensive livestock grazing, while the better in-bye land is farmed more intensively for hay, silage and arable crops. The ranges also have numerous archaeological remains, including 36 Scheduled Ancient Monuments.
The training area is the home of abundant wild life including some rare species of plants and animals. There are two areas designated as SSSI.
There are a number of public rights of way across Catterick training area, including a part of the coast to coast long distance route.
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Most of the walk is within the Yorkshire Dales National Park and is on the edge of a live firing range. Access is permitted at all times, including when the red flags are flying as the route stays outside the danger area. Walkers must not leave the route of the public right of way and must follow the safety instructions on site.
Telephone: 01748 875502/875507
Outside normal hours, contact the guardhouse: Telephone: 01748 875542
Holcombe Moor training area
Holcombe Moor covers approximately 300 hectares of open moorland and woodland near Ramsbottom in Lancashire.
There is an extensive network of footpaths and bridleways across the training area.
The public has access across Holcombe Moor for the majority of the time, with restrictions only in place during periods of live firing. National Trust land surrounding the training area is an urban common to which there is a right of access on foot and on horseback.
Telephone: 01204 882991
Otterburn training area
Otterburn Training Area is the second largest live firing range in the country and has been used for military training since 1911.
Otterburn training area consists of over 60,000 acres of land and has the largest impact area in the UK. Approximately 29,000 acres (11,750 hectares) is set aside for ‘dry’ (ie. non-live firing) training. Some 30,000 soldiers use the area each year and may spend several weeks training here. Hutted camps can accommodate a maximum of 1,600 visiting troops, at any one time.
The wide variety of terrain provides a realistic environment for British and NATO soldiers to train with the latest infantry weapons, artillery and helicopters.
There are two main live firing range areas at Otterburn for artillery, demolitions, all infantry weapons and restricted armoured vehicle firing. Fighter aircraft and helicopters also practice ground attack firing, and there are parachute dropping zones.
A wide selection of live firing ranges provide facilities for weapons from 5.56 millimetre calibre small arms to 155mm artillery and 30mm guns on armoured reconnaissance vehicles. The soft nature of the ground precludes the use of heavy armoured vehicles such as main battle tanks.
It also preserves one of England’s remotest upland areas and is rich in history, folklore, landscape and wildlife.
Otterburn training area has many varied points of interest relating to its historic social land use such as Whiskey Stills and Bastle Houses. The Roman Fortlet at Chew Green and associated marching camps along Dere Street provide visitors with great opportunities to experience the social struggles that were once so common in this part of Northumberland. World War 1 training trenches can also still be seen.
This part of Northumberland is one of the most important sheep farming areas in the country. There are 31 farms on the ranges all of which raise sheep.
The cold climate and moorland soils and vegetation limit agriculture to grazing for hardy breeds though some forage is grown on improved land. Many of the farms also raise cattle for beef.
Sheep flocks are ‘hefted’ to their ground, meaning they don’t wander from their own area so the land is unfenced. Please keep your dog on a leash when near any livestock.
The flocks are mainly Scottish blackface or Cheviot sheep. The Blackface has a black or a black and white face. The Cheviot has a white wool free face and long muzzle.
The average size of a farm is 680 hectares. These can support large flocks of hundreds of sheep.
All live firing stops between mid April to mid May for the ‘lambing break’ and the MOD keeps the farmers informed of training activities so that the shepherds can move the flocks to safety.
Further information on farming within this area can be found on the Northumberland National Park’s website.
The woodlands on the ranges are managed for timber, but they also provide shelter for troops, and a tactical environment for them to train in and around. For military training purposes they need to be wind-firm, fire resistant and have continuous all year tree cover.
Woodlands also add to the landscape and nature conservation value of the area.
Ancient semi-natural woodlands are those that have had continuous tree cover since 1600. These make up 185 hectares within the ranges.
Three ancient semi-natural woodlands are SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest), Ramsey’s Burn Wood, Grasslees Wood and Holystone Burn Woods.
Other ancient semi-natural woods can be seen at Barrow Scar and Barrow Burn Woods, Usway Burn and Durtrees Burn Wood.
Since 1970, 120 new mixed woodlandsm, over 170 acres, have been planted to provide military cover and farm shelter. The coniferous woods across the ranges are also important for military cover so a 20 year felling and restocking programme is being carried out.
Access and recreation
There are no restrictions to public access on MOD land north of the River Coquet. The remainder of the training area is operated under military byelaws, and access is restricted when the area is used for live firing. However when it is not being used for live firing there are opportunities for cycling, riding, walking and climbing or just a drive in the car along the military roads.
There are 2 zones here:
- the Open Access Area (marked cream on the map) is open all round.
- the Controlled Access (marked mauve on the map) is used for live firing. When it is being used for training red flags are flown/red lamps are lit to show that it is closed to visitors.
When no red flags are flying, visitors must keep to the roads or way-marked paths.
Information packs relating to public access are available from National Park Visitor Information Points or can be requested from Otterburn training area.
When planning a visit to the Otterburn Ranges please check the calendar of firing times published by the Northumberland National Park Authority.
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Otterburn Ranges has one of the greatest concentrations of archaeological and historic remains in the north of England.
The archaeological and historic remains date from the Prehistoric, Roman, Medieval and later periods and include burial cairns, Roman roads and marching camps, bastles, farmsteads, lime-kilns and military remains.
The Roman Road of Dere Street, with the marching camps that lie alongside it, crosses the ranges. The camps at Chew Green and Birdhope are the easiest Roman remains to visit.
You can walk along Dere Street and into Scotland from the camps at Chew Green. A Roman signal station stood at Brownhart Law and if the weather is clear you can see the three hills above Melrose which gave the Roman legionary fort of Trimontium there its name.
The Bronze Age cairns on the summit of Thirl Moor are a visible landmark though cannot be visited as they are in the danger area, but the 17th century bastles to the east of the ranges can be viewed when there is no firing.
It is important for reasons of safety, as well as to respect the historic environment, that metal detectors are not used on the ranges.
Further information on the archaeology of the area can be found on the Northumberland National Park’s website.
Conservation and environment at Otterburn
Otterburn Ranges are set in some of the most unspoilt areas in the Northumberland National Park and lie between the valley of the River Rede and the Border Ridge. The landscape falls into the following areas:
- The Cheviots
- Coquet Valley
- Cottonshope Valley
- Moorland Plateau
- Grasslees Valley
- Sandstone Hills
Otterburn training area also hosts many rare and protected habitats.
The ranges contain most of the few species-rich upland hay meadows left in the National Park. These are an internationally rare habitat as 95% of these meadows have been lost across Europe over the past 50 years.
There are 260 hectares of blanket bogs which is an internationally rare habitat. They provide a habitat for the large heath butterfly which is mainly found within the UK in Scotland.
The most northerly upland heath in England is found here. It is important for ground nesting birds such as the black grouse, skylark and curlew.
There are also some of the cleanest and clearest rivers and burns in the country which are home to salmon and trout, as well as the otter and heron that feed on them.
Further information on habitat and wildlife conservation within this area can be found on the Northumberland National Park’s website.
If you have any enquiries or need further information relating to public access and live firing times contact Otterburn Range control:
Tel: 01830 520569
Warcop Training Area
Warcop Training Area (WTA) is situated within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is easily accessed from the A66, 5 kilometres east of Appleby and 2km west of Brough.
Warcop Training Area (WTA) extends to some 9,700 hectares and over two thirds of this area forms part of the Appleby Fells Site of SSSI. The SSSI is known for its blanket bog, limestone pavements, calcareous grassland and alpine and sub-alpine plants.
This area also forms part of the North Pennine Moors Special Protection Area, and Moorhouse and Upper Teesdale Special Area of Conservation which are internationally recognised designations. The site has 16 scheduled ancient monuments ranging from Neolithic burial mounds to medieval villages and a wide range of wildlife including red squirrel, great crested newt, black grouse, and the geyer’s whorl snail.
Over the past few years, considerable time, effort and resources have been directed at developing the natural habitat on WTA, with particular emphasis being given to the management of SSSI and habitat improvements for rare species. The work undertaken on Warcop has recently been recognised by English Nature who has awarded the WTA management team with the prestigious “SSSI Award” for its management of the Appleby Fells and Helbeck SSSIs.
Warcop Training Area is a live MOD range which is used 6.5 days a week predominately by the infantry training centre at Catterick. It is also used by various other regular and Army Reserve units of the British Army. Access opportunities on the training area, can be summarised as:
access to public rights of way in the danger area every Sunday afternoon after 1:00 pm
access to public rights of way in the danger area for 12 weekends a year. These are detailed in the related link on access times on the right hand side of the page
access to WTA through a range of guided walks (contact Clare Hetherington on 017683 43227 for further information)
access to public rights of way in the danger area on at least 15 short notice days. Due to their very nature these dates cannot be published very far in advance. However the Warcop freephone access answer machine (0800 7835181) does hold details of the firing programme 7 days in advance and is updated daily
access to Mickle Fell is available (subject to training, high fire risk etc) on a permit system only. Applications should be sent to the Range Officer, Warcop Training Area, Warcop, Appleby, Cumbria, CA16 6PA
access to Area Victor (including Murton Pike and Murton Fell) under the CROW Act
Live firing notices are issued to the local libraries and youth hostels and are published in the local paper.
Telephone: 0800 783 5181
The MOD own several key training areas in Scotland. Following the Land Reform (Scotland) Act much land is now available for people to access and enjoy responsibly. When on the MOD estate, for your own safety you must adhere to all military byelaws and safety notices and follow the guidance given in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Barry Buddon training area
Barry Buddon Training Area covers 930 hectares of coastal plain on the Tay Estuary between Carnoustie and Monifieth.
The site has a number of firing ranges for small arms training and areas used for dry training (non-live firing).
A vast array of wildlife can be seen on Barry Buddon. Most of the training area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and an EU Special Area of Conservation (SAC), as well as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for its bird populations.
The area provides a haven for wintering waders such as bar-tailed godwit, sanderling and eider duck whilst the plentiful sea buckthorn berries provide food for fieldfares and redwings. In summer months, abundant skylarks, meadow pipits, linnets and stonechats use the dunes as shelter or nest sites.
The ranges and danger areas are closed to the public during periods of live firing.
When firing is not taking place the public can access the training area’s metalled roads on foot, horseback and bicycle. You can also walk along the beaches when the flags are down and red lights extinguished. Further access to the area is not possible because of an unexploded ordnance risk.
Telephone: 01382 533025
Cape Wrath training area
Cape Wrath training area is in the north west corner of the UK, approximately 120 miles from Inverness.
Cape Wrath training area provides opportunities for a wide variety of field fire and dry training exercises across 25,000 acres of severe and isolated upland moorland.
It is the only range in Europe where land, sea and air training activities can be conducted simultaneously and where the Royal Air Force can train using live 1000lb bombs.
The range forms part of an area that is often referred to as “the last great wilderness”, due to its remoteness.
Cape Wrath training area is home to a wide range of wildlife, and various parts of the training area have been designated as a SSSI, an EU SAC, as well as a SPA.
There are 2 main ways of taking access to Cape Wrath training area.
The main access to the range area is via the passenger ferry across the Kyle of Durness from Keoldale. This ferry runs sporadically from May to September. The frequency of the service is dependant on the state of the tide and weather conditions. Two hours either side of low tide the service may stop altogether. The ferry may operate outside these months by prior arrangement.
On the Cape side of the Kyle a minibus service operates between the ferry landing point and the Cape Wrath lighthouse along the public road. This service is privately operated and excursions from the ferry to the lighthouse and back take approximately 2 ½ hours. The public road across the Cape runs for approximately 12 miles thus the majority of people accessing the lighthouse via the ferry make use of this service at least one way. Ten miles of the road are within the Cape Wrath training area. The public road is closed during live firing periods. The ferry and minibus service are also curtailed during these periods.
The other main way to access Cape Wrath is to walk from Blairmore, in the south, via the Sandwood estate owned by John Muir Trust, to Cape Wrath Lighthouse. Much of this route is unmarked, over rough and open moorland, and is not recommended for inexperienced walkers. Walkers are also advised to check firing times before setting off on this route, as should firing be taking place then red flags and lamps will be displayed at the Range boundary and access will not be permitted. This route forms the final section of the Cape Wrath Trail, a long distance route from Fort William of just under 200 miles.
Details of the ferry and minibus services can be found at the Cape Wrath website.
Further information on the Cape Wrath Trail can be found at the Cape Wrath Trail website.
For information on firing times at Cape Wrath training area please contact Range control at Faraid Head.
Telephone: 01971 511242 Out of hours: 0800 833300
Castlelaw training area
The Castlelaw/Dreghorn Training Area lies immediately south of Edinburgh and is part of the Pentland Hills Regional Park.
Castlelaw rises steeply from the valley to the northern tops of the pentland hills at about 500 metres. The highpoints of the training area give stunning views across the city, the Firth of Forth and on a clear day the highlands beyond. The area is home to some rare habitats and wildlife including small numbers of black grouse.
Although military training is the primary land use, the estate is also used for agriculture, principally sheep grazing.
The training area lies within the Pentland Hills Regional Park and as such there are numerous tracks and undefined footpaths for walkers. The area is popular with locals and visitors to Edinburgh.
Live firing is restricted to the live firing range at Castlelaw. Red flags (daytime) and red lamps (night-time) are used when firing is taking place. The public are not allowed into the danger area. The firing range is clearly demarcated by a fence.
Horse riding is now allowed on specified routes across the training area. These routes have been agreed with the British Horse Society (Scotland) and the Pentland Hills Regional Park. The routes allow riders to explore this area while minimising any conflict between horses and troop activity.
Please remember that dry training (blank firing, smoke and pyrotechnics) will still occur in the training area so riders must expect sudden movement and noises. It is advised that riders wear fluorescent clothing to make themselves more visible to soldiers.
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Further details of the riding routes can be found on the Pentland Hills Regional Park website.
Telephone: 0131 445 3383
For further information on firing times contact the Castlelaw training area:
Telephone: 0131 310 4943
Kirkcudbright Training Centre
Kirkcudbright training centre, on the northern coastline of the Solway Firth in Dumfries and Galloway occupies an exposed headland 5 km south of the town of Kirkcudbright.
Kirkcudbright training centre provides opportunities for a wide variety of field fire and dry training exercises across 4,700 acres (1,900 hectares) of farmland.
The range has many rare plants including populations of Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea and Cowslips. The only known county records of 6 plants including Yellow Horned Poppy, Yellow Vetch and Pyramidal Orchids are from the range. Most of the rare plants flourish on the untrodden coastline and cliff face.
There is a danger from unexploded ordnance lying close to the surface of the ground in some parts of the range, and as a result, access is only permitted on four defined and waymarked routes which are located on hard surfaced paths and roads through safe parts of the training area. These routes can only be used when the training area is not active and red flags are not flying/lamps are not lit. Horse Riders are warned when using these routes that the area is used extensively, by both fast jets and helicopters, for low flying exercises. High visibility clothing should be worn by riders.
The main linear access path runs from west to east across the range area. It starts at Torrs Point, where the Dumfries & Galloway waymarked public footpath from Kirkcudbright stops at the range boundary gate. The path is then marked by Dumfries & Galloway waymarker posts throughout its 6.6 mile length to Abbey Burn Foot. Horse riders are advised to transit from Abbey Burn Foot, at the east end of the footpath, where there is an equestrian entry gate and parking for horse boxes.
There are also three shorter, circular routes on the training area.
Townhead Loop: This circular walk starts near Balmae on the western side of the training area and is approximately 4.5 miles long.
Howwell Loop: This circular walk also starts near Balmae and is approximately 3 and a quarter miles long
Netherlaw Loop: This short circular walk takes in Netherlaw Glen at the eastern side of the training area and is approximately 1 mile long
Range Officer telephone: 0141 224 8501 Guard House telephone: 0141 224 8502
South east (including Home Counties)
- East Kent dry training area inland from Hythe and Dover
- Hythe ranges on the edge of the town of Hythe in Kent
- Lydd ranges west of Hythe and south of Ashford in Kent
- Mereworth Woods in Kent
- Thorney Island on the south coast, between Chichester and Portsmouth
Home Counties training areas:
- Aldershot and Minley training areas in Hampshire
- Ash and Pirbright Range danger areas, east and north-east of Aldershot and Farnborough
- Hankley and Elstead Commons which is situated on the boundary of Surrey and Hampshire
- Longmoor range and training areas in Hampshire.
East Kent training area
East Kent, inland from Hythe and Dover.
East Kent dry training area extends in small blocks in an arc between Hythe and Dover, extending a few miles inland. The area around Dover is steeped in military history and the majority of the rolling rural landscape is within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
There are over 36 kilometres of footpaths and bridleways crossing the training area over farmland and through woodland. Routes of interest include the North Downs Way, Saxon Shore Way, Pilgrim’s Way and Elham Valley Way.
A walk in Reinden Wood, near Hawkinge, developed in conjunction with White Cliffs Countryside Project, is illustrated.
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6 miles west of Folkestone, on the edge of the town of Hythe, off the A259 Hythe-Dymchurch-Hastings road.
An area of low lying, slightly undulating land adjoining the foreshore. Hythe Ranges is one of the oldest ranges in the country and has been used for live firing for nearly 200 years. The whole area is steeped in military history. There are two Martello Towers on Hythe Ranges, and a “Grand Redoubt” fortification at Dymchurch. These were built in the early 1800s to resist potential invasion by Napoleon.
Access is available along the foreshore and the sea wall during periods of non-firing.
Hythe Ranges are used for live firing with a danger area extending out to sea. Red flags are flown during live firing periods. During this time access is prohibited along the foreshore and see wall. A notice indicating live firing times is displayed at the entrance to the ranges and on other boards on the security fence at either end of the range complex.
For further information on live firing times, contact 01303 225879 (office hours) or 01303 225861 (out of hours).
Situated 13 miles west of Hythe and 15 miles south of Ashford.
Lydd Ranges are situated on the reclaimed land of the historic Romney Marsh and part of the cuspate foreland at Dungeness, estimated to be 3,000 to 5,000 years old. The habitats are of international importance and are part of the Dungeness Special Area of Conservation. The ranges have been used for military training for over 150 years.
Lydd Ranges are used for live firing with a danger area extending out to sea. Red flags are flown in periods of live firing during which access is prohibited along the foreshore and Galloway’s Road. When there is no live firing access is possible along a permissive path that runs along the coast.
For further information on live firing times contact 01303 225518 (office hours) or 01303 225467 (out of hours).
Mereworth Woods is a small area of very rural Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland. It is part of the Metropolitan Green Belt, lies within a Special Landscape Area and is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest.
Mereworth dry training area is just over 300 acres, mainly mixed broadleaf woodland and some conifer plantations. There is a small area of acid heath, (rare in Kent) and an abundance of wildlife including reptiles and small mammals. The area is used heavily at weekends and regularly during the week by small units with no heavy armour or live firing permitted. Blank firing and limited pyrotechnics are used and there is a helicopter landing site that is used occasionally.
There is a footpath and bridleway running through the training area. The bridleway connects up with a popular local route across the busy B2016.
On the south coast, between Chichester and Portsmouth.
Thorney Island was first used by the Royal Air Force in 1935 and was a fighter station and base for Coastal Command during World War 2. In 1984, it was taken over by the Army and it is now the home base for an artillery regiment.
However, to call Thorney Island an island is now rather an anachronism for it has been joined to the mainland for some 125 years after the reclamation of 72 hectares of tidal mudflats in 1870. The island area comprises a mixture of open grassland (displaying a colourful variety of meadow plants in season) and reed beds. This variety of habitat, in conjunction with the surrounding wetlands, makes Thorney Island one of the best MOD sites for ornithology, with species including brent geese, oystercatchers, lapwings, curlews, skylarks and shelduck. Pilsey Island, to the south of Thorney Island, is an RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) reserve.
A circular walk, following the foreshore around Thorney Island, that lies within part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is an important area for ornithology, is available via the following link Thorney Island, West Sussex.
For information on access to Thorney Island Perimeter Path telephone 01243 388275/ 388269.
Aldershot and Minley training areas
Aldershot and Minley training areas are located to the west of Aldershot and north west of Farnborough in Hampshire.
The two training areas cover an area of approximately 2,000 hectares of lowland heathland habitat which supports a wide range of associated fauna and flora. They are made up of a diverse mosaic of heathland, conifer woodland, areas of mature and semi-mature broadleaved woodland, mire, scrub, acid grassland and grass meadows, particularly in the Minley area.
The majority of the areas are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and form part of the European designated Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area.
Public access is permitted along all public rights of way within both training areas at all times. Open access on foot is allowed in areas within the managed access symbol on the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps. This access is subject to the terms and conditions of the Aldershot and district military byelaws which are displayed at the principal access points onto the training areas. Do not interrupt any military training activities and please observe the conditions of the byelaws all times.
There are parking areas and lay-bys on the periphery of the training areas for use by the public and the military. Please do not obstruct vehicular access onto the training areas.
The training areas are used for dry training exercises only. Dry training does not involve the use of live ammunition but it may include the use of pyrotechnics, blank ammunition and other battle simulators such as smoke grenades and thunder flashes. Be prepared for sudden noises!
For further information on access please contact the defence training estate training area Officer on 01483 798357.
Ash and Pirbright
Ash and Pirbright range danger areas are found to the east and north-east of Aldershot and Farnborough.
The range danger areas cover 2,000 hectares, made up of a mixture of lowland heathland, conifer and broad-leaved woodland, mire, scrub and acid grassland supporting a wide range of fauna and flora.
The majority of the area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and forms part of the European designated Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area.
Both range danger areas are used for live firing exercises and training.
The range danger areas are depicted on the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps by a closed red triangle defining them as danger areas. Ash and Pirbright range danger areas however differ in one fundamental way.
Pirbright range danger area is closed at all times with no permitted access, due to unexploded ordnance risk.
Ash range danger area is closed only when the red flags or red lamps are displayed.
At all other times Ash range danger area is open to the public for access on foot. Access is subject to the terms and conditions of the Aldershot and district military byelaws which are displayed at all major access points onto the danger area.
For further information on access to the range danger area at Ash please contact the senior range officer on 01252 325233.
Hankley and Elstead Commons
Hankley & Elstead Commons are located on the Longmoor training area which is situated on the boundary of Surrey and Hampshire between the towns of Bordon, Liphook, Farnham and Guildford.
The commons represent some of the finest remaining heathland in southern England and are nationally important for their bird, reptile and invertebrate populations. Elstead, Ockley and Royal Commons are part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation. The commons are covered with heather, bracken and woodlands of birch and Scots Pine.
In 1996, the whole of the training area was given a ‘Forest of Excellence’ award by the Forest Commission, which reflects the exceptional management of the landscape, wildlife conservation, timber production and public access in the area. The training area is used for logistics and minor infantry manoeuvre exercises.
Public access is permitted along public rights of way across both commons at all times. This includes two walks across the open heathland of Elstead and Royal commons. In addition open access on foot is available in those areas delineated by the managed access symbol on Ordnance Survey Explorer maps. When walking in the training area you are requested not to interrupt military training and to observe the byelaws.
There are parking areas at The Moat on Elstead Common, at the entrance to Royal Common and at Hankley Common.
- please do not approach or pick up any metal objects
- please note that no camping or fires are allowed
- keep to the designated path. Where there are boardwalks these must be used and walkers must not walk on the surrounding ground
- please keep dogs under proper control
- the pond on Royal Common is strictly out of bounds
- some sections of the promoted routes may be boggy and very wet and might be impassable during certain seasons of the year. Slight deviations from the route may be necessary
For further information on access to the commons telephone 01420 483375.
Longmoor Range and training areas
Longmoor Range and training areas are located to the west of Liphook in Hampshire. The town of Bordon lies immediately to the north and the village of Greatham to the west.
These range and training areas cover approximately 1,800 hectares on primarily lowland heathland habitat, made up of a mosaic of heathland, conifer and broad-leaved woodland, mire, scrub and acid grassland supporting a wide range of associated fauna and flora. The majority of the area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and forms part of the European designated Wealden Heaths Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation. The A3 London to Portsmouth Road runs through the middle of this area.
The training areas outside the range danger area are used for dry training exercises only. Dry training does not involve the use of live ammunition, but it may include the use of pyrotechnics, blank ammunition and other battle simulators. Be prepared for sudden noises!
Longmoor range danger area is used for live firing all year round when red flags or lights are displayed. At all other times (when red flags or lights are not displayed), the range danger area is open to the public as is the dry training areas.
South west (including Salisbury Plain)
Antony training area and Tregantle ranges
Antony training area is situated in south east Cornwall, to the west of Plymouth.
Owned freehold by the MOD, the area stretches from the sandy beaches of Whitsand Bay in the south across 350 hectares of rolling pasture to the mud estuary of the River Lynher. The conservation interests of the coastal fringes are recognised by designation as SSSIs.
Antony training area is used by members of all 3 services (Army, Navy and RAF) and their cadet organisations and their use is administered by Headquarters DTE South West.
Within the training area there are 2 forts, Tregantle and Scraesdon, both Scheduled Ancient Monuments which were built in the 1850s as part of a ‘ring of fire’ to protect the naval port of Plymouth. Created out of dressed granite and limestone, Tregantle Fort stands high on the Cornish coastline.
It provides accommodation for visiting units who may be using the adjoining firing ranges, other parts of the training area, or may be exercising elsewhere in Cornwall or Devon. Scraesdon Fort is used for many types of military training and its labyrinth of rooms and passages are ideal for training soldiers to operate within a built environment.
When the ranges to the south of Tregantle Fort are not being used for live firing, the MOD owned beach is open for public use. Access is by the permissive path, which runs to the beach from the car park alongside the highway. For public safety reasons, the path is closed when the ranges are in use and the red flags are flying (or red lamps lit at night).
The South West Coastal Path, a National Trail from Minehead in Somerset to South Haven Point in Poole, runs through the training area alongside the B3247 so that access is not interrupted by the use of the firing ranges.
Lying alongside the Lynher River, Wacker Quay is leased to the local council who have developed a public picnic site. Wacker Quay was once used to dock barges delivering stores to Scraesdon and Tregantle Forts. After being unloaded from the barge, the stores would have been transported by railway to the forts.
Live firing notices are issued to the local parish councils, harbour masters, post offices, coastguards, and published in two newspapers, The Cornish Times and The Western Morning News.
For further information on live firing times, contact 01752 822516.
Dartmoor Training Ground
Dartmoor training Aarea is situated in West Devon, south of Okehampton, and covers about 12,760 ha (31,500 acres) of freehold, leased or licensed land within the Dartmoor National Park.
The military has a long history of training on Dartmoor. Troops trained and manoeuvred across Dartmoor throughout the 1800s. Artillery training started in 1873 and Okehampton Camp was built in 1893. Dartmoor made a considerable contribution to training the Allies for D Day, with all of the open land being used for military training.
After World War 2 the area used by the military was reduced from about 55,000 hectares to about 13,000 hectares estate, similar to that used now.
Today, Dartmoor is used for the training of light forces; those that deploy in low ground pressure vehicle, by helicopter, by parachute or on their feet, and for personnel from medium and heavy forces practising operations away from their vehicles.
Access and recreation
The MOD has a presumption in favour of public access wherever this is compatible with operational and military training use, public safety, security, conservation and the interests of tenants.
The right for the public to access Dartmoor on foot or on horseback was recognised by the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 and more recently by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
This access is only restricted, for the public’s safety, when live firing is programmed and notified. At all other times the military share Dartmoor with other users. To increase certainty of access, Guaranteed Public Access Periods have been agreed with the Dartmoor Steering Group. The firing notice gives 6 weeks advance warning of the live firing programme; any cancellations are included promptly.
For your own safety please observe the safety information which is given on the firing notice section and is available in the military and Dartmoor information for walkers and riders booklet.
Military byelaws prohibit access to range danger areas when live firing is programmed. They also prohibit digging and interference with military items.
Land over which MOD byelaws apply is excluded from the countryside and Rights of Way Act. Consequently the range danger areas are not depicted as public access land on Ordnance Survey maps.
The impact of military activities on the public enjoyment of Dartmoor has been studied and additional measures introduced to increase the quantity, quality and certainty of access.
Conservation and environment
Designation of Dartmoor as a National Park recognises its natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.
The MOD supports the National Park’s purpose of conserving and enhancing Dartmoor’s environment and is committed to safeguarding and improving the valued landscape and heritage of its estate.
Dartmoor training area works closely with Dartmoor National Park Authority and Natural England to achieve Dartmoor’s Biodiversity Action Plan on its freehold land and to assist landowners of licensed land.
It also works with English Heritage to safeguard Scheduled Monuments and other cultural heritage.
The Dartmoor Training Area Conservation Group, consisting of local enthusiasts, provides expert advice, knowledge and assistance with conservation.
Dartmoor Steering Group
The Dartmoor Steering Group was established in 1978 on the instructions of the Secretaries of State for Defence and Environment following the recommendation of Baroness Sharp’s non statutory public inquiry into the military use of Dartmoor in 1975.
It brings together the MOD plus the key statutory and landowning bodies that have an interest in the management of Dartmoor training area to keep under review the best possible reconciliation of the requirements of military training, conservation and public access.
Its members include representatives of Commander 43 Wessex Brigade and Commandant Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Dartmoor National Park Authority, Dartmoor Commoners Council, Duchy of Cornwall, English Heritage, Government Office of the South West and Natural England.
The Dartmoor Steering Group is supported by the Dartmoor Working Party. Its purpose is to research issues as directed by the chairmen to resolve matters passed to them and to carry out day to day management of the group’s responsibilities.
The alternating chairmen of the Dartmoor Working Party (and also joint secretaries of the Dartmoor Steering Group) are Commander Defence Training Estate South West and the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Chief Executive. Members include the Commandant Dartmoor Training Area, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation’s Senior Land Agent South West, the Duchy of Cornwall, the Dartmoor Commoners Council (2), Natural England (2) and English Heritage.
The Dartmoor Steering Group meets annually and since 2007 has published minutes of its meetings. The Group reports periodically to the Secretaries of State for Defence and Environment.
Dartmoor Training Area Conservation Group
Volunteers of the Dartmoor Military Training Area Conservation Group provide advice and assistance to Dartmoor training area staff on reducing the effects of military activities. The Group also advise on opportunities to protect and enhance the natural environment and cultural heritage as required by the landowner.
Formed in 1992 as the Willsworthy Conservation Group, it extended its role in 2004 to include all of the designated military training areas on Dartmoor.
There are some 15 members from a wide variety of backgrounds, experience and knowledge including archaeologists, ecologists and geologists.
The Group, which meets 3 times a year, has the following remit:
- advises on the management of MOD’s responsibilities
- maintains the site dossier
- carries out annual bird counts on Willsworthy
- advises on areas to avoid during the breeding season
- erects and maintains bird and bat boxes
- advises on the preservation of buildings and structures
- develops woodland planting schemes
- improves nesting sites for waders
Anyone wishing to become a member of the Group is invited to contact Commandant Dartmoor training area.
The MOD’s principal licence to train on Dartmoor training area expired in 2012.
To ensure that the Armed Forces can maintain their high state of operational readiness, without interruption, there was an extensive process of study, review and public consultation prior to re-negotiation in order to provide clear evidence to the Ministers for Environment and Defence that:
- there is a clear military need for both live firing and dry training on Dartmoor training area
- management of the Dartmoor training area for military activities will continue to be sensitive to environmental issues, farming and public access
A report, produced by an independent consultant, on ‘The continuing need for military training on Dartmoor’ concluded that “Dartmoor makes an essential contribution to the delivery of light force training and therefore remains a key (MOD) asset”. Further work took place to inform potential future military options.
Having confirmed the need, a scoping report was widely consulted. An environmental appraisal was conducted by an independent consultant to consider the potential environmental effects of activities associated with current and future military training on Dartmoor training area.
Many studies were conducted to ensure the MOD’s effective management of its responsibilities for military activities on Dartmoor. Those concerning environment, socio-economic and public access are listed below:
- ‘the Continuing need for military training on Dartmoor’
- the need for military training on defence training estate south west
- Dartmoor training area, paper informing potential future military options
- Dartmoor training area: scoping report for environmental appraisal, 2006
- Scoping report for the Environmental Appraisal Environmental Appraisal 2007
- Dartmoor training area, Environmental Appraisal Addendum report
- Evaluation of the impact of sediment on breeding Salmonids across Dartmoor training area
- Dartmoor: environment and socio-economic surveys
- Range danger areas
Within the designated military training areas on north Dartmoor there are 3 range danger areas (Merrivale, Okehampton and Willsworthy), which are outlined on the 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 maps of the area. They are used for live firing on a limited number of days each year. At all other times the public has access over the range danger areas even though other forms of training may be taking place.
- Warning posts and signals
The perimeter of each range danger area is marked on the ground by outward facing warning notices on red and white posts. These warning posts and notices indicate the limit of safe approach to a range danger area. When firing is in progress (on one, two or all three ranges) warning signals - red flags by day and red lamps by night - are displayed at certain points appropriate to each range.
- Access limitations
For your own safety, entry into range danger areas displaying warning signals is prohibited by byelaws and is of course dangerous. Please note that the range danger area boundaries abut each other; if firing occurs on two or three range danger areas there is no safe passage between them. When no warning signals are displayed it is quite safe to enter the danger area of that specific range. Troops carrying out dry training with blank ammunition and pyrotechnics are warned to be considerate to other users.
- Publication of firing notices
Days and nights on which firing is to take place are advertised on this website, in the Tavistock and Okehampton Times on Thursdays, and in the Western Morning News and Express and Echo every Friday and on BBC Radio Devon every morning. Notices are also displayed in neighbouring police stations, some post offices, some public houses, and in National Park and Tourist Information Centres. Details of firing programmes can also be obtained by using the freephone telephone answering service on 0800 4584868.
- Last minute cancellations
On days when firing has been advertised, if the red flags are not flying by 0900 hours from April-September inclusive and by 1000 hours from October-March inclusive no firing will take place that day or the following night. This web site, BBC Radio Devon and the Dartmoor National Park Information Centres are informed of cancellations as soon as they occur.
- Unexploded ordnance
Do not touch any military debris, it may be dangerous.
If you encounter any suspicious objects; mark the area, note the location and inform the Commandant 01837 657210 or police 08452 777444.
Military use of Dartmoor is guided by the MOD’s responsibilities to its landlords and its statutory responsibility to have regard for the National Park’s purposes of conservation and public access.
Management of training on Dartmoor is carefully controlled, supervised and managed by Dartmoor training area’s staff though standing orders, briefings and management plans.
Soldiers are taught to be considerate of others with whom they share Dartmoor. They are also encouraged to understand and care for the National Park’s landscape and its historic and natural environment.
Advice on the best way to achieve training objectives is given by the Commandant Dartmoor Training Area, his deputy, the Regimental Sergeant Major Instructor and the training area marshals and supervisors.
This includes briefings, which reinforce standing orders for the safe and sustainable conduct of training. It also covers temporary restrictions to allow areas to recover after intensive use, to avoid sensitive breeding areas and to relocate intensive training activities away from areas attracting large numbers of the public.
During the training package conducting officers control activities, ensure that the safe system of training is in place and help participants to draw out the lessons learned from the training experience.
At the end of training or during breaks in the exercise, the troops go back over the ground to pick up empty cases and to make sure that no debris or litter has been left behind.
Training area marshals, supervisors and wardens ensure that visiting units clean up, care for the environment and protect Dartmoor’s rugged beauty.
An environmental management system (ISO 14001) is used to assess the impacts of military activities.
The integrated rural management plan sets out how the MOD cares for its responsibilities on the Dartmoor training area.
The MOD has the use of some 13,000 hectares, about a quarter of the National Park’s open moorland.
Live firing is permitted on a limited number of days on approximately one fifth of Dartmoor’s unenclosed moorland. In a similar way to the public, the military also walk on footpaths and bridleways, and over unenclosed moorland in small groups for fitness, navigation and adventurous training.
The MOD owns freehold 1,354 hectares at Willsworthy. The remainder of the designated training area is used under lease or licence. Licences permit specified activities and only transfer stated, and normally limited, rights and responsibilities.
The Duchy of Cornwall, which has extensive land holdings on Dartmoor, licenses to the military 9,808 hectares. The present 21 year licence, which replaced a series of shorter duration licences, expires imminently. The longer licence has enabled the MOD to be more constructive in assisting the Duchy to care for its Dartmoor estate.
Other major licences and leases held are with Lord Roborough’s Maristow Estate for 730 hectares on Merrivale and Ringmoor, and with South West Water for 866 hectares at Cramber.
Okehampton Camp is built on land held under a 999 year agreement with the Okehampton Park Estate, expiring in 2894.
The MOD also enjoys licences for the use of Meldon Reservoir and Granulite Quarry, Dewerstone, Foggintor Quarry and Sheepstor. Where there is a need for specific terrain or vegetation the MOD enters into shorter term agreements to train on private land.
Close liaison is maintained with all landowners to ensure that the potential impacts of military training are minimised.
Dartmoor’s military history
Dartmoor’s special qualities have attracted military training for over 200 years.
During the Napoleonic wars regular and militia units exercised. Large manoeuvres were held in 1853 and 1873. Dartmoor was selected as the first artillery training ground in 1875 with horse drawn batteries travelling to the moor to fire during the summer months. The successful training was consolidated with the building of Okehampton Camp in 1893.
Willsworthy was purchased in the early 1900s to provide the Plymouth Garrison with ranges and training area.
Artillery training continued though to the World War 2, when all of Dartmoor helped to prepare first British forces and then the 4th and 29th United States Divisions for the invasion.
The remote, rugged, challenging terrain and changeable climate of Dartmoor provide vital and demanding training for the Armed Forces.
Dartmoor is particularly suited for the training of light forces such as the Royal Marines. Because of the boggy terrain, Dartmoor is not suitable for tanks or heavy tracked vehicles.
Dartmoor provides a valuable training area for the following regional military units:
- Royal Naval Base at Devonport
- HMS Raleigh (the Royal Navy’s main shore training establishment) at Torpoint
- Brittania Royal Naval College at Dartmouth
- Royal Naval Air Stations at Culdrose and Yeovilton
- The units of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines in Plymouth, Taunton and Barnstaple
- The Commando Training Centre at Lympstone
- 43 Wessex Brigade and its units based in the South West
- Joint Survival School at St Mawgan
In the same way that units based in the south west occasionally travel further afield to train elsewhere, so other units from across the UK also travel to Dartmoor to benefit from its unique features and facilities.
Headquarters Dartmoor training area
Okehampton Training Camp
Duty Officer: 01837 657210
Lulworth Ranges are on the south coast, between Weymouth and Poole.
The Lulworth range comprises more than 2,830 hectares. The range is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Among the grasslands abutting the walks lies a multitude of wild flowers including Cowslip, Milkwort, Scabious and Wild Parsnip. In the summer months, a chorus of grasshoppers and crickets can be heard and the whole area abounds with a variety of flora and fauna.
As with much of the Dorset coast, this section of the coastline is important for its geological interest. There is a mixture of limestone, chalk sands and clays, and in many places you can see spectacular folding with clear distinctions between the different aged rock strata.
The Dorset Coast Path runs through Lulworth ranges. There are also a number of circular walks within the ranges.
There are car parking facilities at Whiteway and Tyneham. Picnic facilities are also available at Whiteway car park.
Worbarrow Beach is open to the public when the ranges are open.
Red flags are flown/lamps are lit to indicate live firing during which time access is prohibited to the live firing range danger area.
These firing times are subject to last-minute change. Please phone 01929 404819 to listen to an answering machine that will give up-to-date access information to callers.
Please note that the exhibitions in Tyneham School and Tyneham Church are open from 10am until 4pm.
Penhale is on the north Cornwall coast to the south of Newquay, between Holywell and Perranporth.
Penhale Camp and training area stands on the rugged north Cornwall coast looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. It is used by members of all 3 services (Army, Navy and RAF) and their cadet organisations. The sand dune system is renowned for its beauty, with dunes amongst the highest in the country, and is designated as a SSSI and a SAC. There are two Scheduled Ancient Monuments - an Iron Age promontory fort on Penhale Point and Bronze Age barrows on Ligger Point.
The South West Coast Path (SWCP) is a national trail from Minehead in Somerset to South Haven Point in Poole and follows the seaward edge of the training area. From Holywell (with parking in the National Trust Car Park) the SWCP follows the sea cliffs around Penhale and Ligger Points.
In the spring/summer you will see a wealth of maritime flowers and it is an ideal place to spot nesting birds and seals. The remains of some of Cornwall’s mining heritage can also be seen and care should be taken around these features. At the northern end of Perran Beach, the designated coast path drops down from the cliffs and, in part, follows the high water mark some 3 kilometres to Perranporth.
To supplement the coastal path, the MOD has opened a permissive path which continues the route following the red and white range poles south above the beach to the MOD boundary. This provides the opportunity for a circular walk from Perranporth that takes in the beach, the dune ridge and the adjoining dune grassland around the Perran Sands Holiday Centre.
This walk can be extended to pass by the site of St Piran’s Oratory and the recently excavated St Piran’s Church which lie just south of the MOD boundary. Please pay attention to the signs around the training area and do not venture away from the way marked routes as the training activities carried out on the site are hazardous.
Telephone: 01637 832001
Salisbury Plain is in Wiltshire, 12 miles (19.2km) north of the city of Salisbury.
The Army started land purchase on Salisbury Plain in 1897 and the total area of the current estate is just over 38,000 hectares. The training area measures 25 miles by 10 miles (40 km by 16 km) and occupies about one ninth of the county of Wiltshire.
Defence Training Estate Salisbury Plain (DTE SP) provides walkers with the opportunity to see an archaeological landscape, which is of unparalleled importance in northern Europe. There are some 2,300 archaeological sites including features dating back to 4000 BC, along with more recent Roman settlements. Salisbury Plain has one of the most dense concentrations of ancient long and round barrows anywhere in Britain.
Salisbury Plain is the largest area of chalk grassland in north west Europe and contains 40% of the remaining area of this habitat in the UK. In recognition of its importance about 20,000 hectares of grassland have been designated as a SSSI and SAC.
Species supported within the grassland include butterflies now uncommon in Britain such as marsh fritillary, adonis blue and brown hairstreak. All have healthy populations in the area. ATE SP is also designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds, such as the stone curlew where 10% of the UK population are found. Roe deer are numerous and are often seen by day.
A variety of access is available on DTE SP including the Imber Range Perimeter Path (IRPP), a waymarked route.
PDF, 227KB, 4 pages
The eastern third of DTE SP, the area shown as managed access on the OS Explorer map, is where the majority of access is available. The numerous rights of way remain open during military training, even when tanks are manoeuvring.
The Bulford Ranges are adjacent to the managed access area and are closed to the public during live firing. They are used extensively, normally five days per week, Tuesday and Thursday evenings and at least one weekend per month. Red flags are flown or lamps lit at night around the danger areas, at which time public access is prohibited. When the flags are down or lamps unlit at night you may enter this Danger Area.
Telephone: 01980 674763
An answer phone recording gives up to date information on areas open for public access.
Staddon Heights Training Area
Staddon Heights is on the southern edge of Plymouth, east of Hooe, on the edge of Plymouth Sound.
The training area consists of a rocky foreshore with a small cove at Jennycliff backed by steep slopes/cliffs rising to 100 metres and a small cliff top area of some 8 hectares mostly covered in scrub and brambles. Staddon Heights training area is used by members of all three services (army, navy and RAF) and their cadet organisations. Their use is administered by Headquarters Defence Training Estate south west.
The footpath and some of the adjoining cliffs are leased to the local council for recreational use including the popular Ramscliff and Jennycliff amenity areas. The training area provides outstanding views over Plymouth Sound and breakwater towards Plymouth and Cornwall. The conservation interest of the foreshore is recognised by its designation as a SSSI.
The south west Coastal Path, a National Trail from Minehead in Somerset to South Haven Point in Poole, runs through the training area. There is a car park in the north eastern corner of the site.
Telephone: 01392 492538
Wyke Regis training area and Chickerell Camp
Wyke Regis is near Weymouth in Dorset.
Wyke Regis training area is part of the defence training estate south west and is located at 3 sites. Two of these are on the northern side of the Fleet, a tidal lagoon with Chesil Beach, the shingle beach of international importance, on the southern side.
In 1928, the Royal Engineers established a bridging camp alongside the Fleet at Wyke Regis, and the site continues to be used for training the Royal Engineers and other arms (both Regular and Reserve Forces) in the building of bridges and ferries, as well as other forms of military training.
The second site is a camp and rifle range at Chickerell which, as well as being used for markmanship training, is used for basic fieldcraft and patrolling exercises.
The third site is located at Verne Yeates on the island of Portland and is used for bridging and signals training.
The conservation importance of Chesil Beach and the Fleet, including parts of Chickerell Range, is recognised by its designation as a World Heritage Site. The fleet is also a European Special Area of Conservation. Much of the range area at Chickerell is designated as a SSSI, as are areas of Verne Yeates.
Wales and west
- Caerwent training area in the south eastern corner of Monmouthshire
- Capel Curig Training Camp in the northern part of Snowdonia National Park
- Castlemartin range in south Pembrokeshire
- Kingsbury Range in north Warwickshire
- Kinmel Park at Bodelwyddan near Rhyl
- Leek and Upper Hulme Training Area in north Staffordshire
- Llansilin Rifle Range in north Shropshire and Powys
- Manorbier in Pembrokeshire
- Nescliff training area on the western end of the north Shropshire Plain
- Pembrey Sands bordering Carmarthen Bay in south Wales
- Penally in Pembrokeshire
- Sealand Range in the Dee Estuary near Chester
- Sennybridge and Epynt Way training area in mid Wales
- Swynnerton Training Camp and training area in north Staffordshire
- Templeton training area, approximately 25 minutes north of Penally training camp
Capel Curig Training Area
Capel Curig Training Camp is located within the northern part of Snowdonia National Park. The camp is approached from the A5 and is just 3.5 miles from the village of Betws-y-Coed.
The camp covers an area of 4 hectares with a perimeter fence around the main buildings area of 845 metres. The main camp area contains woodland and a helicopter landing area/sports field. There is also provision of secure and centrally located accommodation for units undertaking adventurous training in north Wales. The camp provides 280 bed spaces and catering facilities.
Castlemartin training area
Castlemartin covers about 5,900 acres (2,390 ha) of freehold land on the South Pembrokeshire coast within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
The War Office requisitioned the area in 1938 from the Cawdor Estate and many ruins of the former settlements that belonged to the 53 farming communities, which had to be relocated, can still be seen. The land was returned to farming after the World War 2 but in 1951 the Korean War saw its reactivation for range use, which has remained in being ever since. Farming has also continued alongside the range’s primary use with cattle, and in the winter, flocks of sheep.
A beautiful area designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Castlemartin contains a wide variety of flora, as well as some of the finest limestone coastal scenery in the National Park. It has significant archaeological and geological interest, including fossil records of international significance. Castlemartin has been preserved as a spectacular coastal landscape, and Defence Infrastructure Organisation manages its special heritage to preserve it for future generations.
The range is open to all regular and Army Reserve, Cadet Forces and other services. Castlemartin is the only UK army range normally available for armoured units for direct-fire live gunnery exercises and associated manoeuvres, with both on-land impact areas and a large offshore safety area. The facility is therefore mainly used for so-called ‘mounted’ and ‘dismounted’ (ie. in-vehicle and on foot) field firing up to company level; but when such exercises are not under way it is also used for dismounted ‘dry’ training (ie. without live firing) across most of the area. It is also used by civilian organisations and research establishments.
Unscheduled firing may take place without prior warning, and firing may be cancelled without notice. Please ring 01646 662367 from 08:00hrs each day to hear the firing programme for that day.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path passes through the eastern side of the range and is open to the public on non-firing days. Please keep to the road and footpath itself which is marked by white posts. All other areas of the Range are out of bounds to the public.
Red flags (Red lights by night) will be displayed whenever the range is active.
During non-firing times, the range danger area is patrolled by serving military staff and in addition, troops under training are briefed to challenge any civilians they see on the range.
Live firing times information
For further information on live firing times, contact 01646 662336 (manned during firing), 01646 662367 (recorded message) or from the gatehouse 01646 662280 (manned 24 hours a day).
Details about the walks organised by the National Park Authority can be viewed at the Pembrokeshire Coast website and are also published in their bulletins. Information is also available from their visitor centre at Haverfordwest 01437 720392.
Conservation and environment
Castlemartin is home to a range of flora and fauna already lost in other parts of the UK.
There are many rare or uncommon species of birds, insects and plants; and Castlemartin has the highest concentration of seabirds on the Pembrokeshire mainland, including guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. It also accommodates the chough, about a dozen pairs.
The grazing regime on the coastal heath and unimproved grassland encourages many birds such as wheatears, skylarks, meadow pipits, stonechats, and various species of warblers. There is a breeding population of barn owls and other predators, such as ravens, buzzards, peregrines and kestrels, occur frequently. Many rare insects are also found, the secluded shore even provides a habitat for a rare beetle, which shelters under driftwood.
Some of the pre-war farm buildings still survive, others are now in ruins. Some are used for military training, and Flimston Chapel, maintained in good condition, may be visited, and regular services are held there. The ancient St Govan’s Chapel, a tiny, much-visited building on the foreshore near St Govan’s Head on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, is leased to the National Park.
Access and recreation
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path, a National Trail, crosses Range East (during non-firing periods) and inland along 8 kilometres of roads past Range west. When firing is in progress the road diversion through Bosherston provides a longer walk.
Vehicle access is available to Stack Rocks and St Govan’s Chapel. Both of these are popular with sightseers, and the sea cliffs provide some of the best cliff climbing in the UK.
Range west and the inland part of Range east are generally not open to the public. However, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority/Defence Estates organises regular accompanied walks into this area. Many other groups are also catered for through annual safety and conservation briefings. These access opportunities are only available during non-firing periods.
The MOD has created a new permissive 10 kilometre multi-user route along the inland boundary of the ranges as an off-road alternative to the range section of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail, which is unavailable when Castlemartin Range is being used for training. Named the ‘Castlemartin Range Trail’ the route is mainly off-road and is way marked using green discs with a tank logo.
The route runs from near Carew Farm, Bosherston in the east to near Gupton Farm, Freshwater west and offers panoramic views across the range. It is imperative that users stay on the route as the range is in constant use for military training.
It is the wish of the MOD that the route will be open throughout the year; however sections may need to close temporarily for military training requirements or for land management reasons.
The route has been funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and the MOD, with a donation from the British Horse Society. The MOD worked closely with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, the Countryside Council for Wales and the National Trust in creating the Trail.
Kingsbury Ranges are located in north Warwickshire, 4 miles south of Tamworth, near the villages of Piccadilly, Kingsbury and Wood End.
The landscape of the rifle ranges at Kingsbury is gently undulating, with areas of grassed over spoil heaps, a relict of historic coal mining activity, and Kingsbury Wood, a broad leaved/mixed woodland which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Access and recreation
There are 2 footpaths in the south east of the area, and the area north of the tramway contains 2 other public footpaths. These are outside the range danger area and are accessible at all times.
When the ranges are used for live firing, red flags are flown.
Live firing notices are issued to local police stations, post offices and residents who wish to be informed.
For further information on live firing times phone the booking cell at Swynnerton Camp during office hours on: 01785 763159 or 01785 763132.
Kinmel Park training area
Kinmel Park training area is located at Bodelwyddan near Rhyl. It lies just off Junction 25 of the A55 trunk road.
Kinmel Park training area covers an area of 83 acres (35 hectares) of grass land. The training area lies between 2 large private estates and slopes from high ground in the west down to flat ground which borders the A55 trunk road. The area and is grazed by sheep and beef cattle. Within the confines of the training area there is an obstacle course and a 25 metre no danger area range.
The original Kinmel Park Camp was once many times larger than the existing camp, which is now awaiting disposal, and was the site of the alleged mutiny by Canadian troops which took place on the 4 March 1919. During the disturbances 5 Canadian soldiers were shot dead and 28 wounded by their fellows before order could be restored. Three of the 5 dead are buried in the nearby Bodelwyddan churchyard alongside another 78 Canadians, many of whom perished as a result of the 1918/19 influenza epidemics.
Conservation and environment
Kinmel Park training area plays host to a large winter migrant bird population, which takes full advantage of the large woods which surround the training area. Flocks of redwing and fieldfare are abundant, particularly in harsh winters. There are sizeable native bird populations of most species here. Large predators include buzzard, carrion crow and raven. There is also a large population of red deer which move freely through the training area, using the large woods on the sides of the area for cover.
Access and recreation
There are no public footpaths that cross the training area. No live firing takes place at Kinmel in normal training, however the MOD Deer Management Society do cull deer at Kinmel during the hunting season.
For further information, contact Nesscliff Training Camp on 01743 741607 (Monday to Friday only).
Leek and Upper Hulme training areas
Leek and Upper Hulme training areas are located in North Staffordshire five miles north of the town of Leek, and near the villages of Upper Hulme, Newton Blackshaw Moor and Warslow. The M6 motorway runs close by.
The training area is 1,600ft above sea level and the landscape is a mixture of pasture land and rugged open moorland, over-lapped by the Peak District National Park. The land is a mixture of MOD freehold, leasehold, licensed and private land and the majority is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Protection Area for birds. It also contains two ancient monuments.
Access and recreation
Access can be gained by using the public roads that criss-cross the area and by the many public rights of way and footpaths.
The site is approx 1,093 hectares and open to public access. Byelaws are in place and there is a closed impact area that is fenced and signed and out of bounds at all times.
Further information can be obtained by calling the local booking cell at Swynnerton Camp during working hours on 01785 763159 or 01785 763132.
Llansilin Rifle Range is located approximately 1 mile NE of the village of Llansilin. The range lies on the Oswestry to Llansilin Road (B4580) road mid way between the hamlet of Rhydrcroseau and Llansilin village at Grid reference 224/295.
Llansilin Rifle Range is a 400 yard 14 Lane Gallery Range; it has a hill background with a range danger area that extends over the crest of the Coed Cochion hill which forms the back stop for the range. The River Cynlaith flows between the 100 metre firing point and the range stopbutt, the river marks the border between England and Wales.
Conservation and environment
On top of the Coed Cochion Hill there is a lake known as the Llyn Rhuddwyn. It is heavily used by migrant wildfowl and other birdlife because of its isolated and protected location. There are a number of deciduous trees of great age and size including Ash and Beech which were historically coppiced. There is also an Iron Age settlement and quarry located to the rear of the hill, and a number of interesting buildings which lie in the forest that forms the range danger area, including a 19th century shooting lodge with castellated ramparts.
The forest that lies within the range danger area teems with both animal and bird life. There is a small number of red deer and most of the other native mammal species can also be found here. Bird life is prolific and includes raptors such as the common buzzard, and red kite can often be seen over the Coed Cochion.
Access and recreation
There is one public footpath that crosses the range danger area, which is prohibited from use when the range is live, at which time the access gates are locked, signs erected and danger flags flown.
For further information contact Nesscliff Training Camp on 01743 741607 (Mon to Fri only).
Manorbier training area
The air defence range at Manorbier is the only range in mainland UK from where the high velocity missile employed in the anti aircraft role, can be fired. This weapon system is the latest in a design progression from the Blowpipe system, deployed during the Falkland campaign of 1982, through to the S15 Javelin, deployed during the first Gulf conflict 1990 to 1991. It is currently one of the most effective and technologically advanced air defence systems in the world.
The aim of each missile firing is to assess the effectiveness of the whole system and the ability of the missile operator to engage a hostile aircraft, simulated by an aerial target known as the Banshee. Banshee, which looks like a very large model aircraft, is powered by a two cylinder petrol engine and carries sophisticated instrumentation. Used in conjunction with ground monitoring equipment, these aircraft test the performance of the launcher and operator. Banshee is launched out to sea and recovered by parachute at Manorbier Range.
In addition to high velocity missile firings, which constitute the core business of the range, air defence range Manorbier also plays host to the air warfare centre who conduct a variety of aircraft related trials. Every effort is made to ensure that the inevitable low flying activity associated with these trials is kept to a minimum over the mainland.
During firing, surveillance radars and range safety craft ensure that no unauthorised ships or aircraft enter the range danger area. This exclusion zone covers an area of 570 square kilometres to the south of the rangehead, out to 21 kilometres and up to a ceiling of 40,000 feet.
Access and recreation
There is no public access to Manorbier range except when National Park Authority guided walks are conducted.
The Pembrokeshire coastal path skirts the range boundary.
Missile noise data
Whenever the range is active, the control tower is directly contactable on:
Tel 01834 870105
At all other times please ring 01834 871282 or 01834 870104.
Further information may be obtained via a recorded message on 01834 870098.
In relation to low flying the RAF Community Relations Officer may be contacted on 01874 613889, or through the RAF CRO Wales website.
Missile noise levels
Routinely all missile firings are noise monitored at the range boundary. See missile noise data for more information.
Details about the walks organised by the National Park Authority can be found at the Pembrokeshire Coast website and are also published in their bulletins.
Nesscliff training area
Nesscliff training area is located about 1 mile south west of the A5, equidistant to Shrewsbury and Oswestry. The training area is predominantly flat and consists of the flood plain of the River’s Severn and Vyrnwy (Afon Efyrnwy).
Nesscliff training area covers an area of 1,681 acres (681 hectares) of agricultural land on the western end of the north Shropshire Plain. The area is bordered to the east by a sandstone outcrop behind Nesscliff village, to the west by the Llanymynmech Hills, and to the south by the Briedden Hills and the Stiper Stones.
Nesscliff is used to support Regular, Reserve Forces and Cadet training. The camp provides admin, catering and sleeping accommodation for units on training. Pre-operational training is regularly conducted at Nesscliff.
One of the features of the training area is the large number (203) of old storage buildings that were part of the former Central Ammunition Depot (CAD). A number of the storage buildings, and a number of buildings that were either Prisoner of War or European Displaced Persons Camps during their history, are utilised to support military training activities. The remainder of the former storage buildings are utilised by the large number of tenants that farm the military estate.
The former track bed of the Shropshire and Montgomery Railway, which was taken over by the War Dept in 1940 to provide the transport for the future CAD, runs through the entire training area. All of the former storage buildings were served by rail and much old railway infrastructure remains today, including former halts and platforms which escaped the lifting of the railway after its closure in the early 1960s.
In the northern part of the training area there are the remains of the Belan Bank Motte and Bailey Castle.
Conservation and environment
Nesscliff training area plays host to a large winter migrant bird population which takes full advantage of the concentration of fruit bearing trees, large flocks of redwing, fieldfares and waxwing abound particularly in harsh continental winters. There are sizeable native populations of most species. Large predators include buzzard, goshawk and raven, and the merlin is a frequent visitor.
Access and recreation
On the northern part of the training area there are numerous public footpaths that cross the training area between the villages of Pentre, Nesscliff and the hamlets of Kinton and Kinnerley etc. No live firing normally takes place at Nesscliff.
There are no public footpaths on the southern area.
For further information, contact 01743 741607 (Monday to Friday only) or the Camp Guardroom on 01743 268504 (open 24 hrs a day).
Pembrey Sands training ground
Pembrey Sands air weapons range is primarily an air-to-ground bombing and strafing practice area.
The main users of the range are the instructors and students of 19(F) Sqn, flying the Hawk aircraft, although other fast jets can also use the facilities. Military helicopters also use the range and its targets for cabin door gunnery practice. In a typical year pilots will conduct 10,000 passes to target, drop 1,500 bombs and fire 120,000 rounds of ammunition.
A 7,000ft Tactical Landing Zone (TLZ) can be established on the beach for C-130 Hercules crews to practise natural surface operations. A course for TLZ safety officers is regularly run at Pembrey Sands to train personnel in the techniques of laying out a suitable natural surface landing strip.
Range firing times
Normal range firing times are 0900 to 1700, Monday to Thursday and 0900 to 1400 on Friday during the summer and 0900 to 1600 Monday to Thursday and 0900 to 1400 on Friday during the winter.
Night firing can take place on an irregular basis. Other air and ground training activity does take place on the range outside these times including C130s landing on the beach, aircraft using the range targets but not firing weapons and various cadet organisations conducting exercises.
For further information about all firing and flying activities call 01554 892 205.
Penally training camp
Penally training camp is located adjacent to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and near Tenby to the east and the town of Pembroke to the west.
The camp and associated firing range was established in 1860 to cater for an identified need for musketry training following the Crimean War. Extensive use of the accommodation and training facilities was also made during both World Wars, providing facilities for many British and Allied troops. Some of the original buildings are still in use.
Penally training camp’s classrooms and training facilities complement activities at both Manorbier and Templeton, and it administers the latter. Penally training camp is also used as a centre for many types of training, including adventurous training, and is the principal accommodation for units using air defence range Manorbier.
Access and recreation
Normal range firing times for Penally training camp rifle range are as follows:
Monday to Saturday: 8:30am to 4:00pm Sunday: 11:00am to 3:45pm Bank/Public Holidays: No firing
Up-to-date information concerning usage of Penally rifle range can be obtained by ringing the automated service 01834 845950 or Administrative Officer on 01834 843522.
Sealand Rifle Range
The Sealand rifle ranges are small arms firing ranges comprising an operational range area and a range danger area covering 486 hectares in the Dee Estuary near Chester. There are 3 rifle ranges, 2 of which are currently in use.
Conservation and Environment
The site lies across the border between England and Wales, thereby coming under the jurisdiction of both the Countryside Commission for Wales (CCW) and Natural England (NE). The range danger area comprises mainly of saltmarsh communities, with associated transitional swamp and scrub habitats. The Dee Estuary, onto which the RDA extends, is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (habitats and species), a Special Protection Area for birds and a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar site). The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) looks after the grazing tenancy of the saltmarsh and enclosed range land.
The site is of international importance for water birds, during the winter the intertidal flats, saltmarshes and fringing habitats provide feeding and roosting sites for internationally important numbers of ducks and waders, in summer the site supports nationally important breeding colonies of two species of tern. The site is very important during migration, particularly for wader populations moving along the west coast of Britain and for Sandwich terns post breeding.
Access and recreation
There is no public access on to the Sealand rifle ranges or RDA at any time.
Live firing takes place at Sealand almost always on a daily basis.
For further information, contact Nesscliff Training Camp on 01743 741607 (Monday to Friday only).
Sennybridge and Epynt Way training area
Sennybridge training area, requisitioned in 1939, is the third largest military training area in the UK. In 1940 the training area became the site of a Royal Artillery Practice Camp. Today it hosts sophisticated live firing and dry training facilities for light forces including light (105mm) artillery. The camp can accommodate up to 1,760 soldiers.
Sennybridge training area lies in mid Wales within the counties of Powys and Carmarthenshire. Situated just outside the Brecon Beacon National Park to the north west of the county town of Brecon it covers an area of approximately 31,000 acres (12,000 hectares) of MOD freehold land and 6,000 acres (2,500 hectares) of land leased from Forest Enterprise. It measures approximately 12 miles (19 km) SW to NE and 5 miles (8 km) SE to NW.
Sennybridge training area consists mainly of a flat upland plateau known locally as Mynydd Epynt. From this plateau there are spectacular views across to the Black Mountains, the Brecon Beacons, the Cambrian Mountains and the Carmarthenshire Black Mountain.
The uplands of the Epynt Plateau lie between the Brecon Beacons to the south and the Cambrian Mountains to the north. The area became famous as the breeding ground for Welsh Cobs, the very name Epynt originating from an ancient expression meaning “haunt of horse”.
The geological features consist of old red sandstone in the south and centre of the area, with a band of Silurian shale in the north. Much of the upland area is above 1,250 feet (380 metres) with the highest points at the Summit (Grid SN 927434) and the Lookout (Grid SN 961464) at 1,533 feet (475 metres) and 1,563 feet (478 metres) respectively. Most of the stream valleys lie between 784 - 899 feet (240-275 metres).
The Epynt Way, which is some 80km in length, follows the periphery of SENTA. The Epynt Way was established in 2003 and was completed in 2005. It is a permissive bridleway which is open all the year round; however the MOD reserves the right to close it if there is a requirement to do so. In addition a number of circular routes connect to the Epynt Way.
The Epynt Way caters well for horses and has five horse corrals, along with horse box parking areas so people can ride sections or the whole of the Epynt Way.
The route encounters many terrains of varying challenges for horses and their riders, so it is recommended that a reconnaissance visit on foot is undertaken to avoid any nasty surprises!
By the Epynt visitor centre there is a path specifically designed for less able visitors. It consists of approximately half a mile of surfaced walk way which leads to a viewing area.
Access and recreation
Sennybridge training area is physically marked on the ground by MOD warning signs along the outer perimeter which are outlined on the 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 maps of the area informing unauthorised civilians to keep out. The area is controlled by Byelaws and defined as a danger area. Live firing takes place most days on Sennybridge, and as the Epynt Way does not encroach on the Impact area the public can still use the Epynt Way ensuring they stay on the route. This is clearly marked by way markers throughout with 1.2 metre posts and finger posts at junctions with external paths.
Live firing times information
Swynnerton Camp and training area
Swynnerton training camp and training area is located in North Staffordshire five miles west of the town of Stone and near the villages of Eccleshall, Swynnerton and Yarnfield. The M6 motorway runs close by.
The camp and training area are on the site of an old ammunition production factory from World War 2. There is a comprehensive tarmac road system and a mix of old factory buildings and walkways running through the site, with open and wooded countryside and a lagoon in the south fed with surface drained water and from the river Meece in the west.
Access and Recreation
The site is approx 228 hectares in size and is ring fenced with no direct public access or byelaws. Visits can be arranged at convenient times when no training is taking place by contacting the local staff.
Further information can be obtained from the local booking cell during working hours on 01785 763159 or 01785 763132.
Templeton training area
Templeton training area is a disused World War 2 airfield of approximately 164 hectares (404 acres). It is located approximately 25 minutes north of Penally training camp. Built in 1939, to the west of Templeton village in the south west of Pembrokeshire, it has 3 intersecting runways and a network of taxiways which link into aircraft standing areas. The terrain is flat to undulating with a west to south west aspect.
Training personnel, made up of Regular and Territorial soldiers as well as Cadet units, extensively use Templeton training area for up to sub unit dry training with the use of pyrotechnics authorised within designated areas. An army orienteering course has been set up and is widely used by visiting units. A bridging pit is available to engineering units.
Access and Recreation
Public access is via two bridleways transversing the runways which have been recently renovated to allow greater use by diverse organisations. The grassland is leased for grazing and there are a number of organisations who hold leases to enable other use of the area on stipulated occasions.
For further information about the usage of Templeton training area call the Penally training camp Administrative Officer on 01834 843522.
Published: 12 December 2012
Updated: 13 January 2015
- Updated introductory text.
- Updated links and fixed broken link for Tregantle firing times.
- Firing period change
- First published.