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Nature reserves in Gloucestershire

Sep 16, 2022
Nature reserves in Gloucestershire
Love the great outdoors? Gloucestershire brims with spectacular natural scenery, from the beautiful Cotswolds Hills and the Severn Valley to the Forest of Dean – home to rare wildlife and flora. Here we’ve picked some of the nature reserves around the county’s main cities that you simply cannot miss.

• Barrow Wake
• Coopers Hill
• Arle Grove
• Coombe Hill and Meadows
• Box Wood
• Frith Wood


The county town isn’t only Gloucestershire’s artistic and cultural hotspot but also home to a wealth of natural treasures. Below are our top picks:

Barrow Wake

Opening times: Open throughout the year
Best time to visit: April to September
Dogs: Allowed
Parking: Available on site
Found just outside of Gloucester, along the scarp from Crickley Hill, Barrow Wake is home to a great variety of flora and fauna. The name came from an Iron Age burial discovered within the reserve, which is today managed by the National Trust. More than half of the UK’s butterfly species have been recorded here, along with falcons, reptiles and wildflowers. 
Find out more: https://www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/nature-reserves/barrow-wake.

Coopers Hill

Opening times: Open throughout the year
Best time to visit: Year round
Dogs: Allowed
Parking: The nearest car park is Fiddlers Elbow, a 20-minute walk from the reserve
Lying on the edge of the Cotswolds escarpment near Brockworth, Coopers Hill is a natural wonder no matter what time you visit. Covering 135 acres, it comprises ancient beech woodland and grassland and is home to a great wealth of fauna. Keep your eyes peeled for the rare red helleborine and the leafless bird’s nest-orchid. If you feel like going for an atmospheric walk, you’ll find various walking trails within Cooper’s Hills nature reserve. 
Find out more: https://www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/nature-reserves/coopers-hill.


Cheltenham has everything from music festivals and literary events to England’s most famous horse race. And it certainly doesn’t lack breathtaking natural scenery! Here are a few of the best:

Arle Grove

Opening times: Open throughout the year
Best time to visit: Year round
Dogs: On a lead
Parking: Parking is available for four/five vehicles only
Sitting a stone’s throw from Cheltenham, Arle Grove wildlife reserve is classified as a Key Wildlife Site. The ancient woodland has remained intact for centuries, home to various woodland species, including archangel and bluebells. This reserve lies alongside the Cotswolds Way, providing opportunities for scenic walks. 
Find out more: https://www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/nature-reserves/arle-grove.

Coombe Hill and Meadows

Opening times: Open throughout the year
Best time to visit: Year round
Dogs: Under effective control
Parking: Parking is available for ten vehicles only
If you’re after breathtaking views, Coombe Hill and Meadows are hard to beat. The nature reserve is located on the western outskirts of Cheltenham and delights its visitors with spectacular stretches of open woodland. It was initially used by farmers for summer grazing and adopted by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in 2000. Watch out for dragonflies, damselflies and beautiful wildflowers.
Find out more: https://www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/nature-reserves/coombe-hill-canal-and-meadows.


Named as ‘best place to live in the UK’ by the Sunday Times, it’s no surprise that Stroud boasts some of Gloucestershire’s best nature reserves. Here we provide information on two of the best ones. 

Box Wood

Opening times: Open throughout the year
Best time to visit: Late spring and summer
Dogs: Allowed
Parking: Parking available around the village
Situated in the picturesque village of Box, a short drive from Stroud, Box Wood is a haven for nature explorers. It hosts more than 450 species of plants, flowers and wildlife, including bluebells, anemones, owls and butterflies. If you’d like to rest your feet after a whole day of walking, stop at one of the village’s cosy pubs for a refreshing drink. 
Find out more: https://www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/nature-reserves/box-wood.

Frith Wood

Opening times: Open throughout the year
Best time to visit: Year round
Dogs: On a lead 
Parking: Parking available at the Bulls Cross intersection
This glorious ancient beech wood overlooks Painswick and Slad Valleys, offering picture-perfect views of the Gloucestershire countryside. Explore the walking trails and keep your eyes peeled for some rare wildlife, such as the Ena Montana – a conical shell snail.
Find out more: https://www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/nature-reserves/frith-wood.