Duncliffe Wood

Ancient woodland site west of Shaftesbury

View of Duncliffe Hill covered in treesThis 30-acre ancient woodland site is on Duncliffe Hill, just to the west of Shaftesbury. It is one of the largest woods in north Dorset and the highest point in the Blackmoor Vale.

A special area within the wood is the Heygate Reserve. This is near to the entrance and comprises two fields, one of which has a large pond. The other field has been planted as a wild flower meadow and is showing an increasing variety and numbers of butterflies.

Site photos by Keith Howland


Site Details
Butterfly species include

20 species recorded, including:

  • Green veined White
  • Orange Tip
  • Silver-washed Fritillary
  • Marbled White (low numbers)
  • Ringlet

Mating pair of Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies

Silver-washed Fritillaries mating. Photo: MV Pike

Moth species -  
Other species

Birds include:

  • Woodpeckers - Green and Great-spotted
  • Tree-creeper
  • Nuthatch
  • Jay

Flowers include:

  • Bluebells
  • Moschatel
  • Early Purple Orchid

Mammals include:

  • Various bat species
  • Badger
  • Dormouse
  • Roe Deer

Nuthatch on treetrunk

Nuthatch. Photo: Ken Dolbear

Habitat type/features

Large ancient woodland, designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI), having a rich mix of woodland species including what are reported to be the oldest living things in Dorset - a scattering of coppice stools of small-leaved limes. Once an oak, ash and hazel woodland, the site was planted with Norway spriuce, oak, larch and beech in the 1950s/1960s.

Management in recent years encourages a broad mix of native broadleaved trees.

Path through the woods
Location/access

Near Stour Row, about 4 miles west of Shaftesbury.

Grid ref: ST826222

Best accessed from the west - from the A30, at the Kings Arms Inn at East Stour Common, take the minor road opposite called New Lane. There is a track off this.

Parking is available for about 25 cars just off New Lane at the start of the track which leads up to the western side of the wood.

Two public bridleways run east-west through the wood and a public footpath enters from Stour Row to the south. These public rights of way link with several permissive tracks and rides through the wood. The main track bisecting the wood is an old Forestry Commission track which is topped with stone. There is a fairly steep stretch near the entrance gate on the western side. The other tracks in the wood are grass, can be steep in places, and there are numberous muddy patches - good footwear is recommended, even in summer.

Gate into Duncliffe

Main Entrance

Entrance to the Heygate Reserve

Gate into Heygate Reserve

Owned by Woodland Trust