Higher Hyde Heath
Know before you go
Parking informationCar park via unlocked field gate.
Grazing animalsPony and cattle grazing all year.
Some paths from the car park. Otherwise Open Access.
Wheelchair access to hide/ viewing area via level track. Access to the rest of the reserve along uneven paths/ pedestrian gates & stiles.
UNDER THE COUNTRYSIDE AND RIGHTS OF WAY ACT 2000 (CROW), DOGS SHOULD BE KEPT ON SHORT LEADS ON THIS SITE (OPEN ACCESS LAND) FROM 1ST MARCH TO 31ST JULY TO PROTECT GROUND NESTING BIRDS.
There is an information board at the car park entrance with a map of the site, and a surfaced path to a hide with viewing area overlooking a pond. This path continues around the pond from the hide and leads out over a stile onto the heath. A path also leads down into the wood before reaching the hide, this also follows out onto the open heath through a pedestrian gate. All unsurfaced paths may be wet and uneven in places. Although the site is Open Access please be aware that sensitive heathland species, including ground nesting birds, may occur throughout. The ground is generally rough and uneven away from the paths, and several ponds and wet areas are present on site.
Ponies are used to graze a large part of the site all year. Please keep your distance, and observe any signs. Adders and ticks are also present. Please see our Visitor Information page for more details.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitSpring and summer
About the reserve
Higher Hyde Heath is a gem for reptile fans. It’s an internationally important heath which is home to all six of the UK’s native reptiles.
Nature fans should tread quietly and may be lucky enough to spot an adder, the only venomous snake in the UK. Don’t be alarmed however, these are very shy and non-aggressive, if undisturbed. They have beautiful and distinctive crisscross markings along their backs. Explorers might also find the very rare smooth snake (we are lucky in Dorset that they love heathland), grass snake (with its yellow and black collar), the common lizard, slow worm (which isn’t actually slow or a worm!) or the extremely rare sand lizard.
All the different types of heathland environment - dry, wet and humid are present, as well as a selection of peaty pools, a mire and wet woodland to explore.
Aside from the wonderful reptile life, there are also lots of rare and interesting heath dwellers at the site, including the ground-nesting nightjar, Dartford warbler, woodlark and tree pipit. Many interesting dragon and damselflies live in the wetter areas, whilst grayling and silver-studded blue butterflies can be found on the open heath. The heath is home to a variety of typical species including common heather, bell heather and gorse throughout, with bog asphodel, sphagnum mosses and pale butterwort in the wetter heath. One to watch out for is the fascinating sundew. These carnivorous plants have sticky sap which trap flies and small insects.
The sundew's tendrils detect the presence of its stuck prey and curl inwards to engulf it. Eventually, the whole leaf wraps around the insect which is digested. The acidic habitats the Round-leaved Sundew lives in on the heath don't provide enough nutrients, so it has evolved this carnivorous way of life to supplement its diet.
4km north of Wool, access from Puddletown Road, between Bovington and Wareham. From the Wareham direction, the small car park is on the right (north side of the road) 50m or so after the right turning signposted East Dorset Golf Club and Hyde.