Longleat Woods & Parks IPA

Location: Longleat House, near Warminster in Wiltshire, just off the A36 between Bath and Salisbury.

Grid Reference: ST 802 429

Longleat Woods and Parks Important Plant Area is made up of ten pockets of woodland and parkland which together cover 83 hectares. These pockets are scattered across the Bradley Woods and Longleat Woods SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and also the parkland of the Longleat Estate. Unusually for South West Britain, ancient semi-natural broadleaved woodland with a high forest structure forms a large area of this site.

Little and Great Bradley Woods are an unusual example of lowland alderwood.It has a rich flora and the trees host exceptional communities of lichens and bryophytes.Ash and oak trees rise above coppiced alder, field maple and hazel. Pendulous sedge covers the ground beneath the alders and in wetter areas dog’s mercury, tufted hair-grass, wild garlic and yellow archangel are common.Bracken, creeping soft grass and bluebells appear as the ground becomes drier.Along the woodland stream banks, ferns, pale sedge and golden saxifrage can be found along with a rich community of bryophytes including moss and liverworts which is unknown elsewhere in Wiltshire.A small lake is fringed by tussock sedge and wood clubrush and several wild plant species which are rare in Wiltshire – water avens, marsh violet and lemon-scented fern – may be found.Beard lichens which are typical of old woodland live on trees and shrubs.

The IPA includes areas of High Wood which forms part of Longleat Woods SSSI.The epiphytic lichen flora here includes species which are characteristic of ancient forests and parkland.The broad-leaved helleborine, also associated with this habitat may be also found.

Dormice are known to inhabit the woodlands and birds such as woodpeckers, tree pipit, tawny owls and wood warblers might be spotted.Some of the more uncommon butterflies that can be seen are silver-washed and small pearl-bordered fritillaries and white admirals.

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