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Clouts Wood - Wroughton
OS map 157 Grid ref: SU136800

  • Not suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs
  • Dogs on leads are welcome
  • In winter wear wellies as the steep terrain is often muddy
  • Total complex 62.19 hectares
  • Clouts Wood 13.62 hectares

Clouts Wood reserve map © WWT

A walk through this Site of Special Scientific Interest takes you from stream-soaked valley floor, up steep slopes to level land at the top. You will find mossy gnarled boles, splendid spreading trees and abandoned water cress beds.

Clouts Wood is situated between Markham Banks nature reserve and King’s Farm Wood and Diocese Meadows. Combine a walk through all four areas to enjoy contrasting landscapes.

It is traditionally managed as coppice with some standard trees left to grow on. Most trees are 50 to 100 years old, although a few oaks are about 200. Records of coppice rights stretch back to the 1600s. Because of the wood’s great age, 29 ancient woodland indicator species grow among its wildflowers.

From late June see if you can find the tall yellowish spikes of the nationally scarce Bath asparagus, also known as the spiked star of Bethlehem. Other plants of note are green hellebore and wood vetch, the uncommon herb-Paris and delicate mauve meadow saffron. We leave some areas with a dense canopy for large old trees and to provide dead wood for fungi, beetles and hole-nesting bats and birds. In autumn look for shaggy parasol mushrooms, stump puffballs and velvet shank toadstool.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the green and great spotted woodpecker, treecreeper and chiffchaff - this bird sounds as though it is repeating its name. Blackcap and goldfinch like the coppiced areas and you may spot a roe deer.

Roe deer © Darin Smith Bath asparagus © David Kjaer Exmoor ponies © Barry Craske Chalk milkwort © Richard Aisbitt

Markham Banks - 23.36 hectares
Grid ref - SU136 800
Markham Banks is a downland combe with steep slopes - climb to the top for lovely views. Springs near the valley bottom merge into a stream that runs through the reserve from south to north. It is a hotspot for bumblebees and 10 species have been seen here, including buff-tailed and common carder. They come for the rich mix of chalk grassland wildflowers – chalk milkwort, kidney vetch, autumn gentian, spiny restharrow. Butterflies include brimstone, small skipper, painted lady, clouded yellow and gatekeeper. We acquired the land in 2008 and use Exmoor ponies and Herdwick sheep to graze down the scrub and coarse grasses which would otherwise crowd out the wildflowers.

Kings Farm Wood - 18.08 hectares
Grid ref - SU 143 878 0241
Kings Farm Wood links Clouts Wood and Markham Banks nature reserves to Diocese Meadows and the southern edge of Wroughton. This beautiful woodland is made up of native oak and ash, with hazel, cherry, crab apple, field maple, rowan, birch, willow and holly. Buzzards and red kite can be spotted soaring overhead and owls and small mammals make their home here. The wood is jointly owned with Swindon Borough Council. Its unique position, within walking distance of Wroughton makes it an ideal place for people to access nature on their doorstep.

Diocese Meadows - 7.13 hectares
Grid ref – SU 139800

Diocese Meadows are two fields that form a valley with a stream at the bottom that runs from Markham Banks and Clouts Wood. We lease the land from the Diocese of Bristol. It is known as glebe land – land that traditionally was put aside to support the local priest. We will restore the fields to wildflower-rich chalk grassland. To do this we will cut back hedgerows and install sheep-proof fencing around the perimeter before grazing it with livestock.


Directions

If driving
- Leaving Wroughton on the High Street (A4361) turn left into Nursery Close and pass two turnings until you reach junction with Badgers Brook. Turn right and park on road verge (please do not block neighbours). Enter reserve via small bridge.

If using bus – the 49 Trowbridge to Swindon bus stops in Wroughton High Street, but using it is not advisable, as you would have a 15-minute walk along a busy road which is not paved. Visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk/parkingtransportandstreets

If cycling - Leave National Cycle Route 254 in Broad Hinton and follow the A4361 towards Wroughton. Markham Banks reserve entrance will be on your right. Visit www.sustrans.org.uk

Nearby reserves Hagbourne Copse, Rushey Platt

What to see locally - Science Museum at Wroughton (1 mile), Swindon Museum and Art Gallery (3 miles), GWR Steam Museum (3 miles), Lydiard Park (4 miles)

 Clouts Complex location map © WWT

(Photo: View over Clouts Wood © Owain Shaw)