Oysters Coppice Nature Reserve, Wiltshire


★★★★

Tall ferns and other undergrowth
Yellow-flowered iris

Small area of deciduous woodland on a gently sloping hillside above the Vale of Wardour, in a rural location, crossed by a few boggy streams
Location
Gutch Common, 3 miles northeast of Shaftesbury; SP7 9AZ
Oysters Coppice Nature Reserve, near Shaftesbury, contains a 14 acre patch of deciduous woodland, mostly oak, ash and alder, on a gently sloping hillside above the Vale of Wardour, in a rural location. Plant life under the tree canopy is more varied than might be expected on account of several streams and boggy areas in between the drier, sometimes more open sections, although all the most abundant wildflowers are common, including daffodils, bluebells, wood anemone, red campion, herb robert and wild garlic. Some of the less widespread species are sanicle, greater burnet-saxifrage, opposite leaved golden-saxifrage, moschatel, yellow pimpernel and greater stitchwort. The vegetation is generally quite dense, with bushes, ferns, bracken and many fallen branches, thickly covered with moss. Badgers and dormice live in the coppice though are rarely seen. Most of the trees in the reserve are relatively young, however the wood itself is well-established, having been here for at least two centuries.

The nature reserve is reached by narrow roads off the A350 or A30, northeast of Shaftesbury. The nearest parking space is on the east side of Britmore Lane, at the south edge of the tiny village of Gutch Common, from where the entrance is 300 feet away, along another road to the east, just past a cottage (Woodside). The coppice is circled by a 0.6 mile loop path which, anticlockwise, first descends slowly close to the east edge, crossing a shallow, boggy stream at the far side, a short distance before this flows into a pond, then continuing a short distance to a viewpoint of open ground to the north, before turning back south over more moist terrain to an alternative entrance further along Britmore Lane. The final section is through a higher and drier area, ending beside another pond which contains a few clumps of yellow-flowered iris.