Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods NNR is an internationally important area which includes some of Britain's finest beechwoods and limestone grasslands.
Main habitats: Woodland, limestone grassland
Area: 343 Ha
Why visit: The Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods NNR lies in the beautiful Painswick Valley near Stroud. This quintessentially English landscape features seemingly timeless villages, grassland commons filled with orchids and butterflies, and tranquil beech woodlands that offer a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The National Nature Reserve is made up of seven sites managed by Natural England: Rough Park, Buckholt Wood, Cranham Common, Sheepscombe Common, Edge Common (now named Rudge Hill), Bull's Cross and Juniper Hill, and five jointly managed with the National Trust: Workmans Wood, Saltridge Wood, Lord’s and Lady’s Wood, Blackstable Wood and Pope’s Wood.
The woodlands form part of the Cotswold Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Star species: The grasslands of the commons feature a rich limestone flora including yellow rattle, knapweed, harebell and wild thyme. Early summer sees an impressive display of orchids, among them early purple, pyramidal, greater butterfly, common spotted and fragrant.
All these plants support an abundance of insects, most notably butterflies including chalkhill blue, small blue, dingy skipper, green hairstreak and the rare Duke of Burgundy fritillary (at Rudge Hill Common). Skylarks and tree pipits breed and kestrels and buzzards are often seen overhead.
The beech woodlands are host to plants including green hellebore, common wintergreen, bird's-nest orchid and broad-leaved helleborine. A number of nationally rare plants also occur, including fingered sedge, stinking hellebore and yellow star-of-bethlehem.
The woodland animals include rare spiders and snails - all restricted to ancient woodland sites. Butterflies include silver-washed fritillary and, less commonly, white admiral and white-letter hairstreak. Breeding birds include tawny owl, buzzard and wood warbler. Buckholt Wood is especially noted for being home to over 800 species of fungi.
For further information contact site staff on tel: 01452 813630
Other NNRs in the area