Highbury Wood National Nature Reserve
Highbury Wood NNR, on the eastern bank of the River Wye near Redbrook, is a prime example of the rich and diverse woodland for which the Wye Valley is internationally famous. It forms an important link in an almost unbroken chain of ancient woods which stretch from Chepstow to Ross-on-Wye. The reserve is noted for its variety of woodland species, including some rare trees such as the large-leaved lime (which is restricted to the Wye Valley), wild service tree and whitebeam. Some yew trees found on the site are more than 300 years old. Newly coppiced areas provide open ground conditions that favour light-demanding flowers such as primrose and early purple orchid. Wood spurge also emerges with increased warmth and light. These conditions favour insects that feed on the abundant nectar and benefit from the shelter of the surrounding trees, such as many butterflies and dragonflies. The habitat is ideal for scrub-nesting birds, including blackcap and garden warbler. Another beneficiary is the dormouse, which relies on a wide range of nuts, berries and, critically, honeysuckle.
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About The area
Gloucestershire is home to a variety of landscapes. The Cotswolds, a region of gentle hills, valleys and gem-like villages, roll through the county. To their west is the Severn Plain, watered by Britain’s longest river, and characterised by orchards and farms marked out by hedgerows that blaze with mayflower in the spring, and beyond the Severn are the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley.
Throughout the county you are never far away from the past. Neolithic burial chambers are widespread, and so too are the remains of Roman villas, many of which retain the fine mosaic work produced by Cirencester workshops. There are several examples of Saxon building, while in the Stroud valleys abandoned mills and canals are the mark left by the Industrial Revolution. Gloucestershire has always been known for its abbeys, but most of them have disappeared or lie in ruins. However, few counties can equal the churches that remain here. These are many and diverse, from the ‘wool’ churches in Chipping Campden and Northleach, to the cathedral at Gloucester, the abbey church at Tewkesbury or remote St Mary’s, standing alone near Dymock.
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