Lippets Grove Nature Reserve, Gloucestershire


Reserve entrance
Herb paris

Small, rather remote patch of ancient woodland above the River Wye, beside Offa's Dyke, containing varied wildflowers
Along Offa's Dyke Path on the east side of the River Wye; NP16 7JR
Lippets Grove is a small area of ancient woodland on flat ground on the east side of the River Wye, between two much larger forested areas, Caswell Wood to the north and Passage Grove to the south, both these on steeply sleeping ground, dropping down 600 feet over half a mile to the river. All the rim of the valley is followed by the 8th century Offa's Dyke, still many feet high in places, and this provides a course for a major north-south path, mostly, like the dyke, right along the east edge of the woods. Lippets Grove though lies just east of the dyke, and is protected both as an nature reserve and a site of special scientific interest, principally on account of the variety of woodland wildflowers found here.

Some species are common, including bluebell, cuckoo flower, perforate st-john's wort, greater celandine and wild garlic, while the less widespread herb paris (paris quadrifolia) is also relatively abundant. Most unusual is the martagon lily, a naturalised species with pretty, pendant, bell-shaped flowers. These are not so abundant, however, and may be mostly absent in dry years, and if not visible, the wood is not particularly interesting, little different to any other part of the forest, which stretches over 3 miles along this side of the river, merging with Ban-y-Gor Woods to the south. The grove was originally owned by the Forestry Commission, like all the neighboring woodland, but was transferred to Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in 1987.

The Reserve

One suggested start point for a visit to Lippets Grove is the Tidenham Chase car park, along the B4228 four miles north of Chepstow, from where a track heads west for 0.4 miles, through part of The Park Nature Reserve, to a lesser used road (Miss Grace's Lane) and an alternative parking area. A lesser path continues west, across four grassy fields and into the woods just north of the Devil's Pulpit, a limestone outcrop above a gap in the trees that allows a view of Tintern Abbey, far below on the opposite side of the River Wye. Nearby is a curious tree, an ancient yew, perched atop a smaller limestone pile, its roots above ground for several feet. The rock lies along Offa's Dyke Path, which northwards leads to the reserve, reaching the entrance after 1.5 miles from the B4228; a point marked by a small sign, at a breach in the dyke, which parallels the east side of the path. The grove is a small enclosure extending just a few hundred feet, and most of the trees in the northern half have recently been felled, leading to a growth of brambles and other shrubs. Intact trees line the perimeter, and shelter widespread herb paris plants. There is no path through the grove and so walking can be quite slow.