Duncliffe Hill. Photo: Keith Howland

This 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. Flower species include Bluebells, Moschatel and Early Purple Orchid.

Once an oak, ash and hazel woodland, the site was planted with Norway spruce, oak, larch and beech in the 1950s/1960s. Management in recent years encourages a broad mix of native broadleaved trees.

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 numerous muddy patches - good footwear is recommended, even in summer.

For more info visit: Official Duncliffe Wood website

Habitat and 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.

What to see


Find the best Dorset sites for individual butterflies on our Species profile pages.

Other species

Green woodpecker, Greater-spotted woodpecker, Tree Creeper, Nuthatch, Jay, Bats, Badger, Dormouse, Roe Deer

Photo gallery

TIP: Click thumbnails to view full-size images.


Woodland Trust

Find more Duncliffe Wood related content, including news and photos.