Wylye Down National Nature Reserve
The Wylye Down NNR is made up of chalk grassland, rich in wildflowers. Over 100 different plants have been recorded on the species-rich grassland, including the internationally protected early gentian. The early gentian is one of the first to flower in early spring. This purple flowering annual plant relies on short grazed chalk grasslands to survive and Wylye Down is one of the few remaining sites in Europe where it can be found. Not surprisingly this species is one of only nine plants given international protection as a European Protected Species. The reserve is at its most impressive during spring and summer when the rich diversity of wildflowers is in bloom. An impressive selection of rare orchids can be found on the reserve, and these include burnt tip, frog, green winged and the abundant fragrant orchid. Less obvious among the grassland are field fleawort, dwarf sedge, bastard toadflax and the tuberous thistle.
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About The area
A land shrouded in mystery, myth and legend, Wiltshire evokes images of ancient stone circles, white chalk horses carved into hillsides, crop circles and the forbidden, empty landscape of Salisbury Plain. To many M4 and A303 drivers heading out of London through the clutter of the Thames Valley, Wiltshire is where the landscape opens out and rural England begins.
Wiltshire’s charm lies in the beauty of its countryside. The expansive chalk landscapes of the Marlborough and Pewsey downs and Cranborne Chase inspire a sense of space and freedom, offering miles of uninterrupted views deep into Dorset, Somerset and the Cotswolds. Wiltshire’s thriving market towns and picturesque villages provide worthwhile visits and welcome diversions. Stroll through quaint timbered and thatched villages in the southern Woodford and Avon valleys and explore the historic streets of the stone villages of Lacock, Castle Combe and Sherston. Walk around Salisbury and discover architectural styles from the 13th century to the present and take time to visit the city’s elegant cathedral and fascinating museums. And if all of that isn’t enough, the county is also richly endowed with manor houses, mansions and beautiful gardens.
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