Corporate report

Gloucestershire's National Nature Reserves

Published

Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods

Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods NNR is an internationally important area which includes some of Britain’s finest beechwoods and limestone grasslands.

Main habitats: woodland, limestone grassland

The National Nature Reserve is made up of five sites managed by Natural England: Rough Park, Buckholt Wood, Cranham Common, Sheepscombe Common and Edge Common (now named Rudge Hill), and five jointly managed with the National Trust: Workmans Wood, Saltridge Wood, Lord’s and Lady’s Wood, Blackstable Wood and Pope’s Wood.

The woodlands form part of the Cotswold Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Features of interest

The grasslands of the commons feature a rich limestone flora including yellow rattle, knapweed, harebell and wild thyme. Early summer sees an impressive display of orchids, among them early purple, pyramidal, greater butterfly, common spotted and fragrant.

All these plants support an abundance of insects, most notably butterflies including chalkhill blue, small blue, dingy skipper, green hairstreak and the rare Duke of Burgundy fritillary (at Rudge Hill Common). Skylarks and tree pipits breed and kestrels and buzzards are often seen overhead.

The beech woodlands are host to plants including green hellebore, common wintergreen, bird’s-nest orchid and broad-leaved helleborine. A number of nationally rare plants also occur, including fingered sedge, stinking hellebore and yellow star-of-bethlehem.

The woodland animals include rare spiders and snails - all restricted to ancient woodland sites. Butterflies include silver-washed fritillary and, less commonly, white-letter hairstreak. Breeding birds include tawny owl, buzzard and wood warbler. Buckholt Wood is especially noted for being home to over 780 species of fungi.

There are 2 information leaflets for this reserve:

Directions

By train

The nearest stations are Stroud (8 kilometres to the south west) and Gloucester (8 kilometres to the north west).

By bus

There are regular bus services from Stroud to Cranham Corner and less frequent services to Sheepscombe and Cranham village. For details go to the Travel Search website

By car

The majority of the reserve lies between the A46 and the B4070 near the villages of Sheepscombe and Cranham

The reserve is accessed via minor roads from the A46 and B4070. Car parking is available at different car parks and lay-bys.

On foot

The Cotswold Way passes through Edge Common, Pope’s Wood and Buckholt Wood. The Wysis Way passes near the reserve.

Contact

For further information contact site staff on telephone 01452 813630.

Highbury Wood

Highbury Wood NNR is a link in an almost unbroken chain of ancient woods stretching from Chepstow to Ross-on-Wye.

Main habitats: woodland

Features of interest

Highbury Wood lies on the eastern bank of the River Wye and is a prime example of the very rich and diverse woodland for which the Wye Valley is internationally important. The site is noted for its variety of woodland types, reflecting the wide range of soils, aspect and drainage on the site.

Large-leaved lime, which is restricted to the Wye Valley, wild service tree and whitebeam are among the scarcer trees of Highbury Wood. Some yew trees found on the site are more than 300 years old.

Newly-coppiced areas provide open ground conditions which favour light-demanding flowers such as primrose and early purple orchid. Wood spurge also emerges with increased warmth and light.

These conditions favour insects which feed on the abundant nectar and benefit from the shelter of the surrounding trees, such as butterflies and dragonflies.

See the site information leaflet for more details.

Directions

By train

The nearest station is Chepstow

By bus

There are bus services along the A466 from Chepstow to Monmouth via Redbrook. See the Transport Direct website for details.

By car

Access to the reserve is via minor roads from the A466, A4136 and B4228.

On foot

Offa’s Dyke National Trail crosses the reserve. The Wye Valley Walk runs nearby.

Contact

To find out more about the reserve, contact site staff on telephone 01452 813982.

Lady Park Wood

Lady Park Wood NNR is part of a large woodland complex in the Wye Valley.

Main habitats: woodland

Please note that access is limited to public rights of way. Other access is by permit only.

Features of interest

Lady Park Wood straddles the border between England and Wales in the beautiful Wye Valley 3 km north east of Monmouth. It forms part of the Wye Valley Woodland Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Lady Park Wood is a prime example of unmanaged, near natural woodland. The reserve was established by the Forestry Commission in 1945 as a long-term ecological project. Research aims to explore the natural processes that take place without human intervention such as tree felling, thinning or coppicing.

Beside the common tree species of beech, oak, ash, wych elm and birch, the site is also home to both native species of lime (small leaved and the rare large leaved lime) as well as a rare species of whitebeam (Sorbus eminens). The shrub layer is dominated by hazel but also contains dogwood, spindle, hawthorn, privet and holly. Ground cover mainly consists of dog’s mercury and bramble but plants of interest include wood barley, fingered sedge, wild madder, bird’s-nest orchid, toothwort, lily-of-the-valley and herb paris.

Lady Park Wood has a rich breeding bird community which includes all three woodpecker species, redstart, wood warbler, tawny owl, pied flycatcher and treecreeper. A variety of rare bats have been recorded in the NNR, in particular greater and lesser horseshoe bats which are found here in significant numbers.

See the site information leaflet for more details.

Directions

By cycle

Monmouth is at the end of Route 30 of Sustrans National Cycle Network.

By train

The nearest stations are Lydney and Chepstow.

By bus

Bus services run from Chepstow to Monmouth and from Lydney to villages near the reserve. See the Transport Direct website.

By car

Access to the reserve is from the A40 and A4136. There is no car park at the reserve; the nearest parking is across the river at the Biblins Bridge campsite.

On foot

Two major trails pass near the reserve: the Wye Valley Walk and the Wysis Way.

Contact

To find out more about the reserve, contact site staff on telephone 01452 813982.

The Hudnalls

The Hudnalls NNR is a woodland occupying a prominent position on the eastern side of the Wye Valley gorge.

Main habitats: woodland

Features of interest

The Hudnalls is a good example of semi-natural, unmanaged woodland. The woodland is dominated by beech, oak, ash and lime. The lime-beech-oak woodland on strongly acid soils is virtually unknown outside the Lower Wye Valley.

Spring is a particularly good time to visit for the display of wild garlic and other wildflowers. Amongst the rare plants found at the reserve are thick berried bramble Rubus dasycoccus and wood fescue Festuca altissima. Birds recorded here include song thrush, hawfinch, wood warbler, starling and lesser spotted woodpecker. Furthermore, the woodland features some interesting members of the fly family, e.g. the rare cranefly Tipula nubeculosa and the scarce cranefly Scleroprocta pentagonalis.

See the site information leaflet for more details.

Directions

By train

The nearest stations are Lydney and Chepstow.

By bus

Regular bus services link the local area to St Briavels Common. For travel details see the Traveline website.

By car

The nearest parking is at Brockweir.

On foot

It is possible to gain access to the bottom (west) of the reserve on foot via public footpaths along the fields by the banks of the River Wye. Offa’s Dyke National Trail runs nearby.

Contact

Telephone 01452 813982.