Important notice: Temporary reserve closure for essential ash felling works

The Firs has been closed to the public from October 2022. For the safety of visitors to The Firs, Trust staff and contractors, we needed to remove the ash trees from this woodland due to Ash Dieback, affecting all areas. Unfortunately, due to extreme wet conditions this winter, the works have taken longer than expected and there is still some work to be done to ensure that safe paths are reinstated before public access can be permitted. We are therefore sorry to confirm that The Firs woodland will need to remain closed until March.

If you have any concerns or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

Please visit our Ash Dieback page for further information about this devastating disease, the Trust's approach to the felling works and replanting, and how we have ensured protected species such as bats and other wildlife are protected.


Contents


Location

Royal Wootton Bassett SN5 0AJ
What3Words: ///piston.armed.crunching
OS map 169 Grid ref: SU047864


When to visit

Free and open to visit 24 hours a day.

Please note: The Firs woodland will need be closed to the public from the week commencing 10th October for six to seven weeks whilst essential ash tree felling works are carried out for public safety. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.


Know before you go

  • 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

Download the nature reserve leaflet


About the nature reserve


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.


What can be seen here?

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- http://www.westwiltsringing.club/


How can I get here?

Download directions