Know before you go
Parking informationLimited parking (2 cars) at reserve main entrance.
Grazing animalsCattle grazing during summer, but also winter grazing on Birch Common.
Permissive paths and one public footpath. Whole site permissive open access.
Access through pedestrian gates and over stiles, along un-made paths and rides potentially wet and uneven. Some steep ground in woodland.
From the main entrance the woodland is accessed via a track. An information board just inside the wood provides a map and other site details. From there a network of rides and footpaths enables access around the reserve, via occasional stiles and pedestrian gates, although these can all be wet and uneven at any time of the year, and in places steep, especially near the stream. Other entrances to the reserve, for those arriving on foot, via field or pedestrian gates with a second information board in the meadow at the Rye Water Lane entrance. There are no marked footpaths in the meadows but visitors can wander between the fields. The stream is deep in places, and can be a hazard in the winter months due to ‘flash-floods’. Ticks are present in all areas. Cattle graze the reserve in the summer months. Please keep your distance and observe any signs. Please see the Visitor Information page for more details.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitSpring & summer for birds, flowers and butterflies, but great all year for solitude.
About the reserve
One of west Dorset’s lesser known jewels, featuring ancient woodland, meadows, hedgerows, pasture and a fast-flowing stream. This reserve is home to some of Dorset’s rarest and most iconic species.
This stunning reserve is home to some of our best loved, as well as our rarer fauna and flora. Otters use the stream, dormice nest in the woodland, roe deer and harvest mice reside in the pastures, and several species of bat, including the very rare Bechstein’s bat, roost in the woodland.
This tranquil reserve takes you through steep sloping ancient woodland with hazel coppice, down to the fast-flowing stream, up and out into rich wood pasture and meadows. The best times to visit are spring and summer when the whole reserve is bursting with life.
Green and great spotted woodpecker frequent the reserve as well as woodcock, pied and spotted flycatcher, breeding kingfisher and the more common woodland species such as nuthatch, treecreeper and willow warbler.
Summer brings the riches of wild flowers including several orchid species, betony, adder’s tongue fern and common knapweed, and several important species of butterfly, such as marsh and silver-washed fritillaries, purple hairstreak and small heath.
Located 2km north of Corscombe, 3km west of Halstock, south east of Higher Halstock Leigh. If approaching from Halstock, gated entrance is on left 20m past Bracketts Farm. Very limited parking inside gate. Alternative entrances via field gates if approaching on foot or by bicycle, to the south (from Rye Water Lane) and east (via trackway running past Ocean Hill Farm).