Tadnoll & Winfrith Nature Reserves
This internationally important heathland and wetland is an iconic piece of Dorset landscape, divided by the Tadnoll Brook, a chalk stream tributary of the River Frome, and including part of Thomas Hardy's Egdon Heath.
The dry heath, a carpet of purple in late summer, and wet boggy areas with acid peaty pools are home to a host of wildlife, including a number of rare heathland species. Birds include the ground nesting nightjar, which can be heard 'churring' after dark, and the diminutive Dartford warbler, often seen flitting between gorse bushes or perching as it sings. Many interesting dragon and damselflies live in the wetter areas, whilst silver-studded blue butterflies can be found on the open heath. Flowers include typical heathland species, with common heather, bell heather and gorse throughout, and sundew, bog asphodel and sphagnum mosses in the wetter heath. Specialities of the heathland areas include the Dorset heath and marsh gentian whilst the wet meadows support uncommon plants such as marsh cinquefoil and meadow thistle. The Tadnoll Brook chalk stream runs through the reserve and is connected to the flood meadows which support a range of wading birds over the winter months.
Access from the A352, about three miles west of Wool. Take the turning opposite the Red Lion pub onto Gatemore Road. For Winfrith there is parking on the right, just after first junction. For Tadnoll turn left at this first junction, crossing over the cattle grid to follow the road as it skirts around the bottom of the heath, then round to the right at Tadnoll Mill onto Redbridge Road. Roadside parking for Tadnoll is adjacent to the reserve entrance c.500 metres along this road.
Access and safety
UNDER THE COUNTRYSIDE AND RIGHTS OF WAY ACT 2000 (CROW), DOGS SHOULD BE KEPT ON SHORT LEADS ON ALL HEATHLAND AREAS OF THIS SITE (OPEN ACCESS LAND) FROM 1ST MARCH TO 31ST JULY TO PROTECT GROUND NESTING BIRDS.
Gates give access to the main paths at the entrances for both sites, with information boards at these points. On the Tadnoll side a marked circular walk leads around the heathland, whilst a surfaced track leads north through the heathland to the edge of the meadows from the entrance at Winfrith. The linear David Limb Trail leads between the two sites. Although the site is Open Access please be aware that sensitive heathland species, including ground nesting birds, may occur throughout and the ground may be rough and uneven in places.
The reserves are divided by the Tadnoll Brook, with areas of deep water and unprotected banks, and there are wet boggy areas within both the heathland and meadows on both reserves. Several small ponds are scatttered across the heathland, with shallow scrapes in the Winfrith meadows. There may be grazing animals on site at all times of year - please keep your distance and observe any signs. Adders and ticks are also present. Please see our 'Visitor Information' page for more details.
Species and habitats
Heathland, wet meadows, woodland, chalk stream
All six native reptiles, nightjar, Dartford warbler, silver-studded blue, grayling, common heather, cross-leaved heath, bell heather, Dorset heath, marsh gentian, water vole, golden-ringed dragonfly, keeled skimmer.
Nearby nature reserves
Nature reserve map
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