Delight in the variety of flora and fauna found in the Wye Valley.
The Wye Valley is particularly important for its rich wildlife habitats. The high concentration of designated sites include three Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) under the European Union’s Habitats Directive. The three SACs are the River Wye itself, more than 800 hectares of ancient semi-natural woodland in the heart of the Wye Gorge and a collection of sites in the Lower Wye Valley used as roosts by Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats.
There are 45 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and at least 160 sites recognised locally as important for wildlife - many of them managed as Nature Reserves by local Wildlife Trusts. Not all are accessible, but here's a selection that are.
Lancaut Nature Reserve
Within the Lancaut Peninsula these woods are managed by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Surrounded by cliffs, with views to the river and Wintour's Leap.
Near Goodrich, this area, largely common land, is actively managed by the Coppett Hill Trust and accessed from Goodrich Castle car park.
Ancient woodland and a National Nature Reserve near Redbrook, Forest of Dean. Public access limited to marked rights of way, and a way-marked circular route. Spring is a good time for primroses and early purple orchids.
Bigsweir and Cadora Woods
Valley-side woodlands starting from near Bigsweir Bridge. Excellent in Spring for bluebells, wood anemones and wild garlic. Haunt of buzzards and greater spotted woodpeckers.
Croes Robert Wood
Site of Special Scientific Interest on the edge of the Trellech plateau with magnificent views over the Vale of Usk. In Spring is carpeted with wild flowers. Reserve entrance on the road from Trellech to Cwmcarvan.
Pentwyn Farm Reserve
Site of Special Scientific Interest, important for its unimproved hay meadows, abundant in wild flowers.Owned by the Gwent Wildlife Trust.
A patchwork of woodland and grassland, rich in wildlife. One of several nature reserves in the area round Fownhope, owned by Herefordshire Nature Trust.
White Rocks and King Arthur’s Cave
Two reserves on the rocky outcrop of the Doward containing areas of limestone grassland, abandoned quarry workings and natural caves, including King Arthur’s Cave