Briddlesford Woods

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For over 20 years we have been preserving and enhancing this wildlife haven thanks to donations from our supporters and a number of grants.

Briddlesford is one of the few places in the UK where endangered dormice and red squirrels can both be found. Two species of rare bat, barbastelles and Bechstein’s, also breed there and the woodlands have been designated as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area for Conservation (SAC). This gives it the highest legal protection.

Torpid dormouse by Tony Wellbelove

Torpid dormouse by Tony Wellbelove

The site is also of interest for its insect and plant life. One of the most important features of the woodland plant life is the abundance of narrow-leaved lungwort. This species is restricted in Britain to ancient woodlands on the shores and tributaries of the Solent.

The presence of these rare animals and plants in our woods is a combination that is unique within the UK, and one that needs constant care and protection. Can you support us to make this happen?

Latest news

National Moth night 2016

We held a small moth night event on 9th June. We set up 4 light traps along two rides in Briddlesford Copse. The traps were running for about 3 hours and we caught 203 moths of 59 species. The focus for this year’s moth night was hawk moths but unfortunately we didn’t manage to catch any. However we did see a Mocha which is Nationally Scarce, one Triaxomera fulvimitrella and one Strophedra weirana both of which have only 5 previous records from the Isle of Wight.

June Dormouse Survey

At our recent survey weekend 16 keen volunteers and staff helped check over 500 nest boxes at Briddlesford woods. They recorded 21 dormice in total. This is a good number for June, but no babies were seen which is quite unusual. A bat (probably a Bechstein’s) was found in one of the boxes too!

Visit us

You can visit  this special place year round.  Briddlesford Parkland – 10 hectares of peaceful wood pasture, and Hurst Copse – 5 hectares of beautiful semi-natural ancient woodland, near Wootton Bridge on the Isle of Wight are open for you to explore.

Please email if you would like more details to help you plan and make the most of a visit.


There are occasionally opportunities to join one of our guided walks around Briddlesford or longer training courses. Details of all our public events can be found in our events section.

Why not combine a visit to Briddlesford Woods with a trip on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway? From the train you can see the surrounding beautiful countrside from a different angle. The line actually passes through Briddlesford Copse, which is also owned and looked after by us.

Help us

If you live locally or visit the Isle of Wight regularly and you would like to volunteer your time at our reserve please contact There are opportunities to take part in dormouse monitoring and practical management such as coppicing.

Woodland management

Volunteers making an oak cage to protect young trees

Volunteers making an oak cage to protect young trees

Over the last 20 years we have been working towards improving the woodland for wildlife. This takes a lot of hard work and funds from our generous supporters and grant givers.

We have established a long-rotation (15-20 years) coppicing regime to ensure a steady supply of hazelnuts for the red squirrels and dormice to eat. We also maintain a network of rides (essentially paths through the woodland) and glades to allow light to reach the woodland floor benefitting wild flowers, butterflies and other invertebrates.

A Jigsaw grant has also enabled us to begin de-fragmenting the woodland, widening narrow fragile copses and restoring hedgerows. Over 5,000 native trees grown from seed collected in Briddlesford were planted 8 years ago, and we have been actively encouraging natural regeneration of native trees in the surrounding copses into grassland areas.

There are areas of non-intervention within the woodland where we have allowed a high forest structure to develop. This habitat is of considerable conservation value and adds another dimension to this diverse woodland. An abundance of dead and decaying wood is retained wherever possible in all copses to encourage insects and fungi.

Farmland management

Interspersed between the copses, we have 30 hectares of wildflower rich grassland and 6 hectares of arable which has been reverted to grassland. These areas are grazed by a neighbouring farmer’s cattle. Within this grassland we have also sown  just over a hectare of nectar rich plants, carefully selected to provide food for insects.

We have dug 14 ponds to add value to the grassland areas. These create areas for bats to feed, for dragonflies and amphibians to breed and for birds and mammals to drink or bathe. Cattle use the ponds to drink from and as they do so they ‘puddle’ the edges so that the pond retains water for longer.

Wildlife monitoring

Ourselves and a host of experts regularly monitor the array of special species that live in our woods. This helps us assess the impact of our land management and make further improvements. It also helps us to keep the land protected for years to come.

Butterfly Treefrog

Ways to help...

A gift of £25...

will help us put up dormouse boxes at Briddlesford so we can keep an eye on how the dormice are doing.

Donate now

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to help bring the wild back to life.

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