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Royal Wootton Bassett SN5 0AJ
OS map 169 Grid ref: SU047864

  • The nature trail can be very muddy after wet weather and isn't suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs
  • Dogs on leads are welcome
  • 11.47 hectares

The Firs reserve map © WWT

In this peaceful, secluded pocket of woodland in the heart of what was once the Royal Forest of Braydon you can enjoy a gentle half hour stroll along the circular woodland path and wander down the coppiced central ride (path) to the glade. Wood anemones, primroses and bluebells herald the coming of spring while summer brings the pungent aroma of wild garlic, also known as ramsons. The bright crimson heads of ragged robin are speckled among them.

The Firs is situated on Oxford Clay and the ground is wet for much of the year Mosses and ferns thrive in these damp conditions. Dead wood is an important habitat in the reserve and birch stumps are especially important for mosses and bracket fungi. In autumn look for small puffball fungi on the ground. Insects and other invertebrates live on this dead wood, providing food for green and great spotted woodpeckers. Other birds you may see include tits and nuthatches. In the summer spot ringlet and meadow brown butterflies along the central ride.

A rare tree, the small-leaved lime, can be found on the southern boundary bank near the entrance and 200-year old oak pollards stand on the western hedgebank. The uncommon Midland hawthorn also grows in the wood. To create open spaces favoured by certain birds and insects we coppice some of the trees along the central ride in rotation. In the rest of the wood we occasionally thin canopy trees to allow oak and ash to grow as large standards.

For bird ringing reports from this reserve, see the West Wilts Ringing Group blog-

 Puffball © Paul McRae Nuthatch © Neil Aldridge Lady fern © Rob Large Great Spotted Woodpecker © Darin Smith


If driving - from Royal Wootton Bassett, head along the B4042 towards Brinkworth. Take first right after motorway underpass to B4696, signposted Ashton Keynes and Cricklade. After 1.25 miles take the first turning left (Wood Lane). The Firs can be found on right after about 0.5 miles. Look for kissing gate and information board. Space for two cars in front of gate.

Please be aware that in a rural county postcodes often cover wide areas; some may point you to a reserve entrance, others may direct you to its centre and others may simply direct you to the reserve's vicinity. 

If using bus - The 31 Malmesbury-Swindon service runs via Callow Hill. From here follow Wood Lane for 1.5 miles. Reserve entrance will be on left. Walk takes approximately 30 minutes. Visit

If cycling - Follow National Cycle Route 254, along Wood Lane. Where cycle route turns left onto Queen Street, continue on Wood Lane. Reserve entrance will be on left. Visit

Nearby reserves - Echo Lodge Meadows, Ravensroost Wood

What to see locally - Lydiard Park and Mansion (4 miles), North Meadow National Nature Reserve (6 miles), Cotswold Water Park (6 miles)

 The Firs location map © WWT
(Photo: The Firs © Paul McRae)