Wigpool Nature Reserve, Gloucestershire


★★★★★

Calm water
Trees and bushes

Ponds, marsh and acidic heath, in the middle of a conifer plantation near the north edge of the Forest of Dean
Location
Along a minor road 1.5 miles northwest of Mitcheldean; GL17 0JH
Photo Tour (18 images)
Wigpool Nature Reserve protects an area of acidic, boggy heath, on top of a flat ridge in the northernmost section of the Forest of Dean, enclosed on most sides by a conifer plantation that was established in the 1950s, and is managed by the Forestry Commission. The heath originally covered a much more extensive area, and the land in the vicinity was mostly free of trees, part of the open access land of Wigpool Common, but it now survives only in this small (19 acre) area, and even this exists only after recent restorations; the original pool at this site was drained in preparation for the plantation, then recreated in the 1970s.

The nature reserve also contains a smaller area of water, Pit House Pond, formed as part mid 19th century iron mining operations, together with areas of bog, dry grassland and woodland. The reserve is noted for its range of unusual heath/bog plants, but it is also an intrinsically peaceful and pretty site, enclosed by the thick forest, and reached only by very lightly travelled roads.

The waters of the pools are home to such creatures as the common frog, palmate newt, smooth newt and mallard, but it is the wildflowers which are most numerous and varied. Species specific to this habitat include lesser spearwort, marsh speedwell, marsh pennywort, common marsh bedstraw, and (the least common) bog asphodel. A few short paths lead towards the main pond, while most of the area can be seen by cross-country walking, though some areas are rather inaccessible, being boggy and/or overgrown.



Access


Wigpool lies just west of the intersection of two narrow, paved roads from the south, one from Drybrook, the other from the main road west of Mitchedean. Parking is available on verges right beside the nature reserve entrance, and at the start of a gated track into the forestry plantation. A lesser road continues north, soon becoming unpaved. The pool occupies a depression in the clayish, glacial soil that covers the ridge, below which are extensive coal- and iron-bearing layers; it is 100 feet long and oval in shape, with a narrow strip of boggy grass across the middle. The smaller pool is a short distance southwest. Both are bordered by light woodland to the west, crossed by a few streams and ditches, and drier, partly bush-covered grassland to the east, location of the greatest plant variety. It takes about 40 minutes walking for a leisurely circuit of both pools.