Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve



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The Leigh Woods NNR is an outstanding mixture of ancient woodland and flower-rich limestone grassland, all set against the backdrop of Brunel’s famous suspension bridge at Clifton. The broad leafed woodland on the plateau above the famous Avon Gorge is probably the richest site in the world for whitebeam trees, and at least three species – the Bristol whitebeam, Leigh Woods whitebeam and Wilmott’s whitebeam – are found only here. The woods are also home to a variety of birds including the bullfinch, marsh tit and song thrush. Peregrine falcon and ravens breed on the limestone crags of the Avon Gorge, and the caves and veteran trees also provide valuable winter roosts for bats, including the rare greater and lesser horseshoe and Daubenton’s bats. Leigh Woods is a very rich site for invertebrates, including pauper pug and silky wave moths and the white letter hairstreak butterfly, in addition to many beetles, spiders and flies.

Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve
Leigh Woods


About the area

Discover Somerset

Somerset means ‘summer pastures’ – appropriate given that so much of this county remains rural and unspoiled. Ever popular areas to visit are the limestone and red sandstone Mendip Hills rising to over 1,000 feet, and by complete contrast, to the south and southwest, the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels. Descend to the Somerset Levels, an evocative lowland landscape that was the setting for the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685. In the depths of winter this is a desolate place and famously prone to extensive flooding. There is also a palpable sense of the distant past among these fields and scattered communities. It is claimed that Alfred the Great retreated here after his defeat by the Danes.

Away from the flat country are the Quantocks, once the haunt of poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The Quantocks are noted for their gentle slopes, heather-covered moorland expanses and red deer. From the summit, the Bristol Channel is visible where it meets the Severn Estuary. So much of this hilly landscape has a timeless quality about it and large areas have hardly changed since Coleridge and Wordsworth’s day.

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