Nature Reserves

Putting Wildlife on the map

The nature reserves of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust represent some of the finest examples of the county’s rich heritage – ancient woodland, chalk and limestone grassland, flower-rich hay meadows, a fen and an acid heathland bog.

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The clay and greensand vales

Although much of the land is now managed as arable and improved pasture, some areas remain as flower rich hay meadows with ancient hedges and waterways adding to the variety of habitats. These areas contain many valuable ancient woodlands, some with scarce species like the wild service tree. In spring the woodlands are a delight when the bluebells, wood anemones and primroses are in flower.

The Downs

Wiltshire contains the largest remaining areas in the UK of unimproved chalk grassland or downland. The downs are of international importance for their wildlife. Centuries of grazing has resulted in conditions that are ideal for an abundance of species including cowslips, wild thyme, devil’s bit scabious and many types of orchid.

The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds in north west Wiltshire include a mosaic of habitats, with numerous small ancient woodlands, and patches of species-rich limestone grassland and scrub. The beautiful valley of the Bybrook is set in a valley steeped in history and supports a rich variety of plants and animals. At the edge of the Cotswolds gravel has been extracted leaving extensive areas of open water. These lakes support large numbers of overwintering birds including nationally important populations of birds such as the great-crested grebe.

Wiltshire’s rivers

The county contains some of the country’s finest rivers. The Salisbury Avon, for example, is of national importance, and is a classic example of a chalk river. Twenty-four species of fish and the wide variety of insect life living in the Avon reflect a healthy river system.

The New Forest

The south-east corner of Wiltshire is typical of the New Forest with heathland, wood pasture and ancient woodland. The area is particularly important for reptiles and the lichens living on the old trees.

The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust owns or manages over 40 nature reserves. Ragged Robin in FlowerBelow we give basic information about the majority. A few have hazardous access or are very sensitive sites, and these have been omitted. If you would like fuller details of the Trust’s nature reserves information is available from the Trust. Some of the reserves listed here are linked to pages containing much greater detail. Simply click where indicated.

Avis Meadow – 15 acre wildflower meadow in Braydon Forest area of north Wiltshire.
Location: West of Swindon between Minety and Brinkworth. Take the B4696 Ashton Keynes road north from Wootton Bassett. After two miles take the second turn left to Minety. Go straight on when the road goes sharp right. Go straight over the next crossroads and Avis Meadow is 200 yards on the left. Park in Ravensroost Wood Car Park which is a further 200 yards on the right.
Specialities of the reserve: From late March for the cowslips until early July for a succession of other meadow flowers and butterflies.

Blackmoor Copse, the Vaughan Pickard Reserve – Ancient woodland in south east of the county.
Location: Six miles east of Salisbury between the A30 and the A36, Blackmoor Copse is on the western side of the minor road from Winterslow to East Grimstead. The main entrance is at the junction between Livery Road and the road to Farley. There is limited parking on the wide road verge.
Specialities of the reserve: Butterflies, such as pearl-bordered fritillary, purple emperor, silver-washed fritillary and Duke of Burgundy; dormice; spring flowers; dragonflies; great-crested newts and woodcock.

Clattinger Farm Meadows – Ancient hay meadows in Braydon Forest area of north Wiltshire.
Location: From the A419 Swindon to Cirencester road turn left signposted Cotswolds Water Park. After the Keynes Country Park turning take next left, signed Minety. The stile entrance is on the right, Swillbrook Lakes nature reserve is opposite. There is parking for several cars beside the road, at map ref SU 017 938.
Specialities of the reserve: Snakeshead fritillaries, burnt orchids, downy fruited sedge.

Clouts Wood – An ancient woodland of oak and ash near Swindon.
Location: One mile south of Wroughton, off the A4361 Swindon to Avebury road. There are two lay-bys on the road. The footpath begins about 50m downhill from the lower lay-by on the other side of the road. Grid ref SU 136 801.
Specialities of the reserve: Bath asparagus, bluebells, wild cherry.

Cockey Down – A large area of chalk downland near Salisbury.
Location: Best reached via a footpath from Laverstock. Start from the Duck Inn (SU160 304) and go up the public footpath with hedges each side past the beech wood. After a walk of 20mins you will reach the reserve (SU 173 320).
Specialities of the reserve: Fragrant and pyramidal orchid, chalkhill blue and dark green fritillary butterflies.

Conigre Mead – A meadow on the banks of the Bristol Avon at Melksham, managed as a wildlife area for local people. The two ponds are full of interesting wildlife.
Location: From the town centre the reserve is on the far side of the cemetery next to the river. Grid ref ST 901 637.
Specialities of the reserve: Water shrew, emperor dragonfly, kingfisher.

Coombe Bissett Down – Chalk grassland reserve to the south of Salisbury.
Location: Take the A354 Blandford Forum road out of Salisbury. On entering the village of Coombe Bissett turn left immediately after the bridge. After approx 0.25 miles turn right just before the small church. The reserve entrance is about 400 yards along the lane on the right.
Specialities of the reserve: Burnt orchids, wild thyme, chalkhill blue butterflies.

The Devenish Reserve – Chalk grassland, woodland, beech avenue and scrub areas, to the north of Salisbury.
Location: Contact the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for details.
Specialities of the reserve: Clustered bellflower, salad burnet, chalkhill blue and Duke of Burgundy butterflies.

Distillery Meadows – Wildflower meadows in the Braydon Forest area of north Wiltshire.
Location: Distillery Meadows lies about 1.5km south of Minety in the north Wiltshire area known as the Braydon Forest. From the Turnpike Inn crossroads in Minety turn south off the B4040. After about 500m take the first right. The Hill Ground part of the reserve is the first field on the right, with parking in the gateways. For the rest of the reserve continue down the lane for about 400m to a double gateway entrance to the reserve on the right. Map ref SU 032 893.
Specialities of the reserve: Huge range of flowering plants including green-winged orchid, adder’s tongue fern, spiny restharrow and heath spotted orchid.

Echo Lodge Meadows – Wildflower meadows adjacent to Webbs Wood in Braydon Forest area of north Wiltshire.
Location: From Wootton Bassett head along the B4042 towards Brinkworth. At the Callow Hill crossroads turn right into Wood Lane. After approx 0.5 miles turn right up a track immediately after crossing a small bridge across a stream. Car parking is at the entrance to Webbs Wood. The reserve entrance is on the right.
Specialities of the reserve: Small leaved lime, dingy skipper, small heath, and brown hairstreak butterflies, adders tongue fern and saw-wort.

Emmett Hill Meadows – Wildflower meadows in Braydon Forest area of north Wiltshire.
Location: Contact the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for details.
Specialities of the reserve: Meadow thistle, heath spotted orchid, pignut.

The Firs – Large area of woodland in Braydon Forest area of north Wiltshire.
Location: From Wootton Bassett head along the B4042 towards Brinkworth. Turn first right after the motorway underpass. After approx 1.25 miles take first turn on left. The Firs is about one mile further on right. Grid ref SU 047 865.
Specialities of the reserve: False oxlip, small leaved lime, goldilocks buttercup, green woodpecker, white admiral butterfly.

Green Lane Wood and Meadow – Ancient woodland and wildflower meadow near to Trowbridge.
Location: From Trowbridge head for Semington on the A361. At the Semington roundabout turn right onto the A350. Shortly after the turn to Steeple Ashton there is an entrance to the wood on the right with a small car park. Grid ref ST 882 577.
Specialities of the reserve: Oak and maple coppice, greater butterfly orchid, goldilocks buttercup, grizzled skipper and silver washed fritillary butterfly.

Ham Hill – A small but very rich area of chalk grassland and scrub in the east of the county.
Location: Contact the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for details.
Specialities of the reserve: Twayblade, fragrant orchid, autumn gentian, green hairstreak and chalkhill blue butterflies.

Hat Gate – A very small reserve consisting of a short section of disused railway track in the east of the county.
Location: To the west of the road from Savernake Forest to Wootton Rivers where the remains of two railway bridges can be seen. Parking either side of these bridges. Grid ref SU 212 642.
Specialities of the reserve: Warblers, buzzards, grizzled skipper butterflies.

Jones’s Mill, the Vera Jeans Reserve – Rare fenland site near Pewsey.
Location: Take the A345 north from Pewsey. Car parking in the Pewsey Wharf car park opposite the French Horn pub. Go east along the towpath until you come to the brick bridge over the canal. Go up to the lane. The entrance is directly facing you across the lane. Grid ref SU 168 613.
Specialities of the reserve: Tussock sedge, bog pimpernel, bogbean, southern marsh orchid, reed bunting, snipe, grass snake.

Landford Bog – Internationally rare lowland bog and wet heath, in the New Forest area of south east Wiltshire.
Location: From Salisbury take the A36 towards Southampton. After several miles turn right into the village of Landford on the B3079. As you leave the village you will see a lay-by on your left and the nature reserve sign for the site. Grid ref SU 259 186.
Specialities of the reserve: Adder, raft spider, sundews.

Little Langford Down – Remote chalk downland site to the west of Salisbury.
Location: Contact the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for details.
Specialities of the reserve: Bastard toadflax, meadow saxifrage, adonis blue, brown argus and dark green fritillary butterflies.

Middleton Down – Species-rich chalk downland south west of Salisbury.
Location: To the south of the village of Broad Chalke, eight miles west of Salisbury. The reserve can be approached from Broad Chalke via the track called Church Bottom, which is in a valley running south from the village. Start at grid ref SU 043 250 and walk for one mile. The reserve entrance is on your right at grid ref SU 047 238.
Specialities of the reserve: Dwarf sedge, autumn lady’s tresses, early gentian, adonis blue, grizzled skipper and dingy skipper butterflies, buzzard and sparrowhawk.

Morgan’s Hill – Chalk downland reserve north of Devizes
Location: Just off the Devizes to Calne road, to the north of the North Wiltshire Golfcourse. There is parking in the Smallgrain Plantation picnic site car park. Proceed up the steps at the far end of the picnic area. The main part of the reserve is about 0.25 miles up the track. Grid ref SU 028 672.
Specialities of the reserve: Juniper, meadow saxifrage, wild thyme, pyramidal orchid, round headed rampion, Duke of Burgundy butterfly.

Oyster’s Coppice – Ancient woodland in the south west of the county.
Location: The wood is on Gutch Common, 4km NE of Shaftsbury, 6km SW of Tisbury. Take a right turn off the road leading north from Donhead St Mary towards Semley. OS map ref ST 894 259.
Specialities of the reserve: Wild daffodils in early spring, ramsons, bluebells in May and woodland birds including lesser spotted woodpecker.

Peppercombe Wood – Small woodland to the south west of Devizes.
Location: From Devizes head south west and turn left off the A342 just after Lydeway. Follow signs for Urchfont and head for the centre of the village. After the village pond walk on with the pond on your right. Turn right into Peppercombe Lane and the reserve is at the bottom of the hill on your left.
Specialities of the reserve: Opposite leaved golden saxifrage, moschatel, wood anemone, Solomon’s seal.

Ramsbury Meadow – Small area of former water meadow to the east of Wiltshire.
Location: Approximately 6.5 miles east of Marlborough. Take the minor road through Mildenhall to Ramsbury. If approaching on the B4192 turn off to Ramsbury. Parking is in the main street near the fire station. Go down the path next to the fire station and enter the reserve over the stile at grid ref SU 273 714.
Specialities of the reserve: Marsh marigold, flowering rush, ram’s horn snail, many dragonfly species.

Ravensroost Wood – Large area of ancient wodland in the Braydon Forest area of north Wiltshire.
Location: Take the B4696 Ashton Keynes road north from Wootton Bassett. After two miles take the second turn left to Minety. Go straight on when the main road turns sharp right. Go straight over the next crossroads and Ravensroost Wood car park is on the right after 1/4 mile.
Specialities of the reserve: ancient woodland with associated rare plants, good butterfly population and a variety of birds, especially warblers.

Red Lodge Pond – Large pond in Forest Enterprise woodland in the Braydon Forest area of north Wiltshire.
Location: From Wootton Bassett take the B4042 towards Brinkworth, taking the first right after the motorway underpass. After two miles you pass a crossroads. Continue for a further mile the park in the gateway on the right (grid ref SU 054 888), taking care not to block the entrance.
Specialities of the reserve: Water horsetail, common spotted orchid, dragonflies, white admiral and silver-washed fritillary butterflies.

Roundway Hill Covert – Secondary woodland and chalk grassland near Devizes with spectacular views across central Wiltshire.
Location: By bike or car from Devizes take the A361 towards Swindon. After passing the Wiltshire Police HQ turn left, signposted Roundway and Garden Trading Estate. At Roundway village turn right by the telephone box, go up the hill and take the left hand fork. The track at the top is very bumpy. Park at end of the track.
Specialities of the reserve: Range of butterflies including chalkhill blue and speckled wood. Chalkland flora include rockrose, carline thistle and cowslip. Spectacular views.

Swillbrook Lakes – A complex of open water formed by gravel extraction in the Cotswold Water Park to the north of the county.
Location: Swillbrook Lakes are also known as Lakes 46 and 48 of Cotswolds Water Park. From the A419 Swindon to Cirencester road turn left signposted Cotswolds Water Park. After the Keynes Country Park turning take next left, signed Minety. The stile entrance is on the left, Clattinger Farm is opposite. There is parking for several cars beside the road, at map ref SU 017 938.
Specialities of the reserve: In May and June the reserve hosts summer migrant birds such as hobby and nightingale, plus many warblers; from October to March wintering wildfowl use the site. Also good for dragonflies and bats.

Smallbrook Meadows – A series of wet meadows near the centre of Warminster.
Location: The reserve is situated on the southern edge of Warminster in the Wylye valley. It can be reached by walking through the formal boating park from Weymouth Street, or from the car park in Smallbrook Road, grid ref ST880443.
Specialities of the reserve: Wetland plants, water voles, birds, butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies.

Stoke Common Meadows – Traditional hay meadows in the Braydon Forest area of north Wiltshire.
Location: From Wootton Bassett head north towards Cricklade. On reaching Purtonstock turn left into the small village and follow the narrow road (Stoke Common Lane) which soon becomes a track until you reach the far end. To reach the reserve walk through the gate beside the nature reserve sign. Grid ref ST 065 904.
Specialities of the reserve: Pepper saxifrage, sweet vernal grass, heath spotted orchid, adder’s tongue fern, brown hairstreak butterfly.

Upper Waterhay – Traditional hay meadows in the Braydon Forest area of north Wiltshire.
Location: The reserve is best approached from the B4040 road between Malmesbury and Cricklade. Turn off at Chelworth Upper Green along the minor road to Ashton Keynes. After about a mile park at the side of the road. Parking is at Grid ref SU 068 932.
Specialities of the reserve: Snakeshead fritillary, pepper saxifrage, curlew in winter, great burnet.

Vincients Wood – Woodland, some ancient, surrounded by development on edge of Chippenham.
Location: The wood is on the west side of Chippenham, and can be approached from Hungerdown Lane (A350). At the roundabout turn into Derriads Lane. Take the third right into Turpin Way then right again into Brittain Close. Parking is limited. The path enters the wood at grid ref SU 899 733.
Specialities of the reserve: Spring woodland wild flowers and common woodland birds.