Sopley Common is a significant area of heath of varying types with some high, sandy areas and low boggy areas which have interesting bog pools. There are also woodland areas, both broad-leaved and coniferous. When the heather is out is a particularly lovely area; the heath is more akin to the New Forest rather than the Purbeck heath with a greater proportion of ling than bell heather. As a result the colouring is more of a delicate mauve than a deep purple.
The reserve is on both sides of the Ringwood road, each with their seperate entrance so don't miss out and visit one half and think you have finished! The western side is quite sandy and dry with ling and dwarf gorse. The eastern side is much wetter with boggy areas and lots of rushes and damp ground loving plants. The boggy pools are largely unaccessible as the ground is very wet but you can get to some to see the dragonflies, damselflies and raft spiders.
I suppose the downside to Sopley is the proximity of Bournemouth International Airport and two busy roads so it is not the most peaceful of walks but the flowers and insects are not bothered and there are plenty of these to see. It is certainly well worth a visit, especially in late summer.