Avon Gorge IPA

Location: On the outskirts of Bristol, 2 miles to the west of Bristol City centre.

Grid Reference: ST 561 742


Avon Gorge IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

The key features of this IPA are:

  • One of the UK’s most important populations of:
    Bristol Whitebeam
    Round-leaved Whitebeam
    Wilmott’s Whitebeam
  • The species richness of vascular plants in broadleaved deciduous woodland.
  • One of the best UK examples of threatened habitats of ashwoods on slopes, screes and ravines

  • About Avon Gorge

    The gorge extends approximately 3km northwest-wards as the Avon flows from the edge of Bristol Docks at Hotwells before levelling out towards Sea Mills.

    Impressive cliffs of carboniferous sandstone and limestone tower over both sides of the river and provide the substrate for an extraordinary range flowers and trees, some of which are extremely rare, a total of 24 rare vascular plants can be found here.

    Leigh Woods, ancient broadleaved woodlands with ancient coppice and pollards, extend over the top and the south western side of the gorge.

    There are several sorbus species (a number of Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species and possibly some endemics) and an exceptionally rich limestone rock flora which includes nationally rare plants such as the round-headed leek, Bristol rock-cress and the western spiked speedwell. Honewort, fingered sedge, dwarf sedge, dwarf mouse-ear, and rock stone crop are also rarities that can be found in the area.

    Little–robin and lesser meadow-rue, both of restricted national distribution, have been recorded at the gorge, and angular Solomon’s seal occurs in the woodland which is also home to a number of whitebeam species. Two whitebeams, the Bristol and Wilmott’s whitebeam are unique to the Avon Gorge.

    Fly orchid and bee orchid have also been recorded here.

    Image: Avon Gorge © Rept0n1x under CC BY-SA 3.0