Nagshead RSPB Reserve
Situated near the
At Nagshead RSPB reserve, there are two marked trails, the Long and the Short Trail. The former is about 3 miles in length and the latter 1 mile. Both trace a common path for about half of the short walk. (Offically opening at the end of June 2003, a new information centre has been built in the car park at Nagshead. The old one has been demolished but it is still possible to follow the information given below by going through the gate from the car park which you will see on your left if you stand in the doorway of the new centre looking outwards.) At the end of this track through the avenue of Birch trees, go through the gate with the chain on and follow the path along the edge of the field towards the woods. For snake lovers, take a look on the bramble piles which dot this field. Dead grass has been laid on some of them and it is here that Adders bask on warm days in spring and summer. Go through the second gate and into the woods. Keep an eye and ear open for Firecrest in the holly bushes and conifer trees immediately you start your walk through the woods. There are plenty of Goldcrests too. After 15 metres you join the
Let us go
left and complete the Short Trail. This path returns directly to the car park.
As you descend you can look to your left and below is the trail that you have
just passed along. But the aspect here is different because you are higher and
it is easier to see into the canopy. However take a look to the right of the
trail for honeysuckle, the food plant of the White Admiral Butterfly. As you
descend out of the woods, you will join a shale track which approaches you and
bends to your right. The car park is on the other side of the gate you can see
ahead of you. However you may want to detour for a hundred metres or so and go
into one of the two hides on the reserve. Turn right along this drive and you
will see the signpost to the Bruce Campbell hide. In dry summers it may be
worth spending some time here as apart from the ponds at the bottom of the
reserve near the other hide and the pond near the car park, there is little
water. In wet years, however, there is plenty of water in the many tiny
streamlets. The pond in front of this hide is home to Grass Snakes which often
swim in the water. Various dragonflies and damselflies frequent the area in the
summer months and several bird species come down to drink as do some of the deer
If you want to do the Long Trail, let us continue from where the Short and Long Trails diverge. Go right along a straight track though mixed beech and oak trees. Up to the left through the trees you will make out a cleared area (see later) which in spring hosts Tree Pipits. You may be able to hear them from here. At the end of this long track, the path bends to the left and after about 50 metres. look out for a small cave on the left. It is easy to miss this. With a torch, enter this short cave and look at the ceiling. In winter, there are a number of hibernating butterflies hanging there as well as a host of other insects and spiders. After the next stile, cross a track and in about 10 metres the Long Trail goes over a stile to the left. After a short distance, the aspect becomes more open and it is worth spending a few minutes scanning the sky for Buzzard, Raven and Goshawk which may be passing. There is a small seat halfway along this open area. After the open area, the path turns left and rises steeply for a few metres and then crosses a main track. It may be worth going up this track to the left to view the open area, mentioned previously. Returning to the trail, the path descends through the woods to rejoin the short trail within sight of the gate to the car park.
hide is not far from the Information Centre. Go through the gate opposite this
Centre and turn immediately right and descend on the path through the middle of
the field and cross the stile at the end. By this stile you will pass what
looks like the remains of a well but is in fact an old, blocked up, ventilation
shaft for one of the many mines which used to be worked in the
Highnam Woods RSPB Reserve
This reserve is only about two miles from the City of
There is a hide just a few metres from the car park and during the winter season, there is a feeding station maintained there. The species likely to be seen at or near the feeders include Blue Tits, Great Tits, Marsh Tits, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Robin, Dunnock and Brambling.
There is a trail marked out along which Nightingales can be heard singing in May and maybe into June. Beware that this site is very wet and the trail may be muddy even in a warm summer but in winter, some kind of waterproof footware is needed. Try and find the Wild Service Tree in the wood - there is only one as far as I know.
NOTE – As from March 2013, the car park is closed for the foreseeable future.
New Fancy Viewpoint
This viewpoint in the
During the months of February and March it is generally regarded as one of the best sites in the country to see displaying Goshawks. Park in the area of the car park to the right as you enter and then walk up the path which starts in the corner of the car park. The walk is fairly gentle except the last 10m which are steep but generally ordinary shoes will do. There are two benches along the path to rest as you ascend.
Goshawks and Buzzards, you will be able to look down into the tops of the near
trees and it is possible to see parties of Crossbills, Siskin and Redpoll on
occasion. On the ridge to the north east is the town of
There is free foot access at all times BUT, as you enter the carpark, note the time displayed which tells you when the barrier will be locked.
Ashleworth Ham Nature Reserve
This reserve, managed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, is on a flood plain of the River Severn and is situated about 5 miles north of Gloucester City centre on the west bank (Grid Ref:- OS Map 162 - SO827264).
There are two hides along the lane at this reference, one is situated in the copse on the bank alongside the road and the other is a screen hide on the opposite side of the road at a lower level. The latter gives better views to the extreme right and left but the former gives more far reaching views towards the river (hidden by a distant floodbank). Park at the side of the road but as there is a bend in the lane nearby to the south, care should be taken to get your car completely off the road.
winter, over one thousand duck, including Wigeon,
Teal, Shoveler, Mallard and Pintail appear on the reserve.
A small party of Whooper Swans sometimes can be seen here but they do range
widely in the area. Parties of Bewick's Swans also
drop in from time to time and the large flock of
and summer, warblers generally replace the wildfowl with Common Whitethroat,
the other other bank of the River
Coombe Hill Canal Nature Reserve
This reserve, also managed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, is on a flood plain of the River Severn about 6 miles north of Gloucester City centre and can be found on the east bank of the river. The canal extends from (Grid Ref:- OS Map 162 - SO850266 to SO886274.
The whole length of the canal can be walked although there is better car parking at the eastern end. It is also the nearest end to view the newly dug scrapes (Oct 2002) (SO878272) to the north of the canal and which will form part of a new reserve.
park at the eastern end is accessed from the traffic lights at Coombe Hill on
Continue on down the canal and about 150m after the bridge, there is a public footpath across the fields to the north. This will eventually become part of a circular route back to the canal. (Full details of the circular route and access to the two hides can be found on the information boards which are sited at both ends of the canal). If you choose to stay on the canal towpath, continue past the line of trees on your right which gradually comes close to the towpath and then you will be able to see one of the scrapes.
Here in winter, the scene is much as described above for Ashleworth Ham and birds regularly commute between the two reserves. Information on access in floods is similar in that the reserve can be inaccessable although the A38, being on high ground never floods. Similarly, the birds of the spring and summer are very similar to the Ham.
The above descriptipns are for information only and the author accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injuries incurred as a result of following these directions.