On autumn days is there anything better than taking a brisk walk outside and crunching in the fallen leaves? But how often do you stop to look at the fallen leaf litter and identify those leaves beneath your feet?

This autumn, we are encouraging you to get out and about and explore the hidden delights of some of our woodland nature reserves.

A great place to start is Green Lane Wood. The reserve is located just off the A350, near Trowbridge and together with near by Biss Wood covers a total of about 75ha. Green Lane Wood has been managed by WWT since 1991 and is an ancient woodland (noted on as since the 1600s). The reserve is a mix of deciduous trees including some fine veteran field maples. The woodland is in part managed in a traditional way, by coppicing. Regular coppicing (or cutting) of some of the trees allows sunlight to reach the woodland floor so that the flowers and other species can thrive. The reserve is crossed with sunny woodland rides and ditches and is home to the rare Bechstein’s bat. During autumn, the woodland floor is seen adorned in a large variety of fungi including the interestingly named dog vomit slime mould! All of the fungi help the woodland to break down the fallen leaf litter and provide a healthy woodland.

Green Lane Wood (C) Emma Kirkup

Blackmoor Copse, at Farley was our first nature reserve. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is an important wood for a range of species. As well as the better known trees look out for a few yew trees. The gently sloping site is criss-crossed by woodland paths and has a circular route for easy walking. Look for nibbled hazelnuts on the woodland floor from the dormice that roam the canopy.

Blackmoor Copse (C) Steve Day

At Ravensroost Wood, near Malmesbury, the ancient woodland has variously been cleared or felled and then allowed to regrow since the 1600s.  Parts of the wood had almost completely been cleared from the mid-1600s to make way for agriculture, before being replanted in the 19th century. Alongside the more well-known trees the ancient woodland indicator species found here, is the wild service-tree, also known as chequers. In the past its berries were used to make alcoholic drinks. Look hard and you may find beech trees, small leaved lime, aspen and scots pine on this reserve.

Ravensroost Wood (C) Steve Day

On the edge of Calne, Penn Wood nature reserve can be found. In 2010 WWT, supported The Hills Group and local people in planting some of the 10,000 young blackthorn, oak, ash, lime, black poplar, downy birch and a few Norway spruce and Scots pine trees that make up the woodland here. Take a wander around and see how many tree species you can identify by their leaves.

For outstanding views across the Woodford Valley, near Salisbury, make a stop at The Devenish nature reserve. The steep steps lead you up to the chalk downland slope where you walk amongst the plantation woodland. Here you will find some examples of mature beech trees and some great views to the  valley below. Dotted through the reserve are some lovely old hornbeam, beech, yew and hazelstools. 

The Devenish (C) Emma Kirkup

Devizes and Roundway Orchard and Old Cricket Field is a hive of activity in the autumn as the traditional orchard is  harvested and used to make the Trust’s own apple juice which is available to purchase.

No matter which area of Wiltshire you live in, you will be sure to find a woodland nearby to you. To discover more about our woodlands and other nature reserves take a further explore of our website and look out for guided walks of some of our reserves which take place throughout the year.

Top image: Biss Wood (C) Glyn Coy. All other images by Steve Day or Emma Kirkup.