From restored heathland in the Forest of Dean to shaded woodlands in the Stroud valley, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s diverse nature reserves are some of the most impressive natural areas in the UK.
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust says their ambition is ‘to preserve, recreate and reconnect Gloucestershire’s wild places,’ encouraging the people of Gloucestershire to value, enjoy and share wildlife in the county.
Providing year-round opportunities to soak up some fresh air, see some spectacular sites and even spot some wild flora and fauna, grab your walking boots and get out and explore a nature reserve – or all 51 – near you…
Badgeworth, in Cheltenham, is one of the smallest nature reserves in the world, and was Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s first ever nature reserve. It is home to the rare adder’s tongue spearwort, found at only two sites in the UK, and is home to more than 305 species of beetle.
2. Arle Grove
Located near Whittington, Arle Grove is a species-rich, ancient woodland boasting a wealth of flora. It was donated to the trust in 2009, and wildlife surveys are ongoing here.
3. Cutsdean Quarry
Cutsdean Quarry, near Cheltenham, is a small site that is home to birds, butterflies, reptiles and wildflowers. Geologists might head here to have a look at the open rock faces and Chipping Norton limestone.
4. Wingmoor Farm Meadow
This meadow north of Cheltenham has an interesting mix of flowers such as flora, cowslip and pepper-saxifrage. Its orchard was also restored in 2011 with traditional Gloucestershire apple trees.
As one of the few freshwater marshes in Gloucestershire, Brassey in Bourton-on-the-Water contains a unique collection of marshland plants and a rich biodiversity. However, as it is a water abstraction, access is only allowed via permit.
6. Brynworth Lane Railway
This small reserve near Lechlade is part of a disused railway and is a great place to spot reptiles. The calcareous grassland is the perfect home for slow worms, toads, newts, and adders.
Chedworth nature reserve is a hotspot for geologists, historians, and wildlife lovers alike, as it is home to some of the most accessible cuttings from the Jurassic period in the UK, and boasts views of fossil-filled limestone.
8. Edward Richardson and Phyllis Amey
Created from two gravel pits, this beautiful reserve near Lechlade consists of two lakes and is home to a wide variety of mature natural habitats.
9. Greystones Farm
On the outskirts of Bourton-on-the-Water, Greystones Farm is a sanctuary of calm with an archaeology walk, wildflower meadows, the River Eyre trickling through, and sightings of water vole.
10. Midger Wood
Midger Wood, near Wotton-under-Edge, is a magical hidden valley of mossy oaks, luxurious ferns and small waterfalls that make for a peaceful getaway.
Near Cirencester, this reserve is a hub of wildlife activity, with thousands of species of insects, a large butterfly population, rabbits and brown hare, and lizards often spotted.
12. Roundhouse Lake
Situated near Lechlade, Roundhouse Lake is part the Cotswold Water Park and is a fine example of a manmade habitat. The lakes play host to large numbers of wintering fowl, including wigeon, red-crested pochard and tufted duck.
13. Whelford Pools
Also part of the Cotswold Water Park, Whelford Pools guarantees wildlife all year round with otters, nightingale, bittern and more.
14. Siccaridge Wood
Redwings, fieldfares, nuthatches, treecreepers and even the rare dormouse await walkers in Siccaridge Wood, near Sapperton, with spring time boasting carpets of bluebells.
15. Betty Daw’s Wood
As part of Dymock Woods, near Newent, this ancient woodland is best known for its beautiful show of wild daffodils in spring, and is part of the Wild Daffodil Trail through Gloucestershire, also known as the ‘Golden Triangle’.
16. Cannop Bridge Marsh
Birdwatchers will flock to Cannop Bridge Marsh, near Coleford, where the marsh sees a wealth of feathered friends, such as the pied flycatcher, the redstart and great spotted woodpecker, along with butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies.
17. Clarke’s Pool Meadows
Situated near Lydney, Clarke’s Pool Meadows is home to over 45,000 green winged orchids, as well as adder’s tongue fern, cowslip, bluebell and yellow rattle. It is said to be one of the finest surviving hay meadows in Gloucestershire.
18. East Wood
On the southern fringe of the Forest of Dean, East Wood is carpeted with colourful woodland flowers such as orchids, violets, and bluebell. Visitors will also be in awe of the impressive 400 year old ‘King Yew’ tree.
19. Collin Park Wood
Collin Park Wood in Upleadon is a sanctuary for wildlife, smothered in woodland flowers, fruits, and ancient trees. It’s also a great place for birdwatching all year round.
20. Edgehills Bog
Home to a wealth of heathland plants, Edgehills Bog near Cinderford is dominated by boggy areas, heathers, and marsh violets. Heathland and woodlands birds, dragonflies and damselflies also share this reserve with free-roaming sheep.
21. Foxes Bridge Bog
Located in Cinderford, this acid bog is one of the rarest habitats in Gloucestershire with a rich collection of bog and marshland plants, including the rare marsh St. Johns-wort.
22. Hobbs Quarry
Once a hive of industrial activity, Hobbs Quarry near Longhope is a wonderful place to view unique geology, bedded limestone, and fossilised remains.
23. Ketford Banks
This small, steep, sandy bank in Newent is famed for its display of daffodils, bluebells, and foxgloves. It is home to wood mice and bank voles and supports the buff-tailed bumble bees.
24. Laymoor Quag
Laymoor Quag is the last remaining relic of Cinderford’s wet heathland, with marshes and ponds providing a beautiful habitat for dragonflies.
25. Mitcheldean Meend Marsh
This quaking bog near Cinderford boasts one of the best collections of bog and heathland plants in Gloucestershire, with an abundance of creeping willow, bell heather, and purple moor-grass.
Oakenhill is known for its landscapes and beautiful views across the Forest of Dean. It’s also a top spot for birdwatching, with buzzards, turtledoves, nightjars and more frequenting.
27. Plump Hill Dolomite Quarry
This old quarry near Mitcheldean has been colonised by a varied collection of limestone grassland plants. It’s a busy meeting place for birds and butterflies with superb views across the Cotswold scarp.
28. Spion Kop Quarry
This deep, large quarry near Coleford is under strict restrictions to protect the flora and fauna on site. This is a great spot for those interested in geology with a good range of plants colonising the rock face and boulder-strewn floor.
29. Stenders Quarry
Explore the abundance of fossils, wildlife and a range of rock types at Stenders Quarry near Mitcheldean. Birds also visit the reserve, with sightings of the great spotted woodpecker, gold-crest and numerous scrub-loving birds.
30. Vell Mill Daffodil Meadow
Thought to be one of the best surviving wild daffodil meadows, this reserve near Dymock also boasts an impressive orchard with over 60 traditional varieties of rare local plum, apple and pear.
This reserve near Mitcheldean is the remnant of an acidic bog, providing the perfect breeding and nesting ground for wildfowl, common frogs, palmate, and newts.
32. Wimberry Quarries
Lying within a large area of mixed plantation woodland, Winberry Quarry near Coleford is an undisturbed area that allows nine species of fern to grow freely within the reserve boundary.
This nature reserve in the heart of the Forest of Dean is bursting with wildlife. From butterflies and birds to snakes, retiles and fungi, there’s a lot to take in, and is a great attraction for a relaxing getaway.
34. Ashleworthe Ham
This nature reserve, near Hartpury, lies in the floodplains of the river Severn, making it the perfect home for wildfowl such as pintail, tufted duck, and goldeneye. In some winters, up to 4,000 fieldfare may be present.
35. Chosen Hill
Situated between Gloucester and Cheltenham, Chosen Hill boasts beautiful views of the Cotswolds, as well as providing a pretty sanctuary. This woodland is packed with wildlife, as well as one of the most spectacular bluebell displays in the county.
36. Gwen and Vera’s Fields
This daffodil meadow near Gloucester is part of the ‘Golden Triangle’, where visitors can enjoy a carpet of yellow in spring, as well as wildflowers throughout the year.
37. Daneway Banks
Located near Stroud, Daneway Banks shows off a wonderful example of limestone grassland and is home to the rare, and once extinct in the UK, large blue butterfly.
38. Swift’s Hill
Swift’s Hill is situated in Laurie Lee’s immortalised Slad Valley, and is a great family day out, with views from the top of the hill stretching as far as Wales.
39. Frith Wood
North of Stroud, walkers can stroll through this woodland through to Snows Farm and Swift’s Hill nature reserves in a five mile circular walk. This ancient woodland is also home to a rare and scarcely seen snail called Ena Montana.
40. Laurie Lee Wood
This reserve in Slad, near Stroud, was opened in 2013 in preparation for the Laurie Lee centenary celebrations. It is a beautiful ancient woodland with over three hectares of native flora and fauna. Look out for the poetry posts installed throughout the Slad Valley inscribed with Laurie Lee’s words.
41. Lower Woods
Stretching over 272 hectares, Lowers Woods near Stroud is one of the largest ancient woodlands in the south-west of England, with medieval landscapes, woodbanks, grassy trenches, and 23 woods and coppices.
42. Sapperton Valley
This reserve area near Chalford supports diverse habitats spanning woodland and wetland. There are good populations of the common frog and toad, with fallow deer and foxes as frequent visitors.
43. Snows Farm
This beautiful traditional grassland comes alive with flowers in the summer, and provides a lovely grazing ground for the Dartmoor ponies. With stunning views, this is the perfect place for a relaxing stroll.
44. Strawberry Banks
This reserve was once used to grow strawberries, but is now known for the presence of the marsh fritillary butterfly and for being one of the few sites in the UK to home the rugged oil beetle.
45. Stuart Fawkes
Also known as Box Meadows, this reserve near Nailsworth, is made up of three fields and is home to one of the largest populations of meadow clary.
46. Three Groves Wood
Three Groves Wood, near Chalford, is part of a large block of ancient woodland, showing a fine display of bluebells, and home to an abundance of wildlife.
47. Chaceley Meadow
Chaceley Meadow, near Chaceley Village, offers a rainbow of plant life, with hawthorn and blackthorn hedges, white willow pollards, marsh marigold, meadow buttercup and cuckooflower.
48. Mythe Railway
Just north of Tewkesbury, Mythe Railway boats impressive views over the Severn Vale and visitors can spot the two uncommon legumes, wild liquorice and the narrow leaved everlasting pea.
This small nature reserve is proud to be associated with the uncommon great green bush cricket, indicating their long established hay meadows. There are also nearly 80 species of moth recorded here.
This former trout farm in Wotton-under-Edge is now a miniature hidden wetland, with a public footpath for visitors to spot otters, dragonflies, kingfishers and the occasional rarity.
51. Old London Road
This reserve, just north of Wotton-under-Edge, is one of the only two remaining British locations of limestone woundwort. This small reserve is a pleasant place to take a picnic and take in nature.
For more information about visiting these nature reserves and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s work and membership opportunities, visit gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk.
By Alice Lloyd
Thursday 25 September 2014
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