OS map ref: SK 417214 (Sheet 129)
The reserve is situated in the parish of Breedon-on-the-Hill, in the north-west of Leicestershire. It lies about 1.5 km south-east of Breedon village, alongside the road between Tonge and Griffydam, and 1 km south of the A42 junction 14. Cars are best parked in the lay-by, or in the pull in next to the Sustrans cycle path. Please do not park on the busy road or obstruct gateways. The reserve is open to Trust members who can use their membership cards as permits and others by permit only. A permit can be obtained for free by calling 0116 248 7362 or e-mailing [email protected]
We encourage visitors to use environmentally friendly forms of transport wherever possible. Most of our reserves are easily accessible by bicycle with many close to the National Cycle Network. Please note that cycling is not permitted on the nature reserve itself.
Public transport - contact Traveline for further information www.traveline.org.uk or phone 0871 200 22 33.
Dogs are permitted on this nature reserve but only under strict control - able to bring to heel at all times and please clean up after them.
Please keep to the paths.
No horse riding or camping is allowed on the nature reserve.
To “pre-visit” the nature reserve to determine potential access issues please see our photo trails guide - click here.
Cloud Wood extends over 33 ha. It is owned by the Trust and is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Cloud Wood is an ancient woodland that has long been known as one of the best sites in Leicestershire for flowering plants. The wood stands on Keuper Marl and Boulder Clay, and was once more extensive than it is now, that part of it which stood on Carboniferous Limestone having been lost to quarrying.
The wood was formerly coppiced in the traditional way (see also the entry for Prior's Coppice), but this practice probably ceased in the early years of the 20th century. Around the time of the Second World War, Cloud Wood was clear-felled and allowed to regenerate naturally, escaping the planting of conifers which has damaged so many of our woodlands. In 1993 the site was given to the Trust by Ennstone Breedon plc. A coppice cycle has been re-introduced in part of the wood, in order to benefit those animals and plants which prosper under this type of management. Other areas will be allowed to develop naturally into high forest.
Rides and glades are often important habitats for wildlife in woodland, providing open areas and edge habitats. The rides in Cloud Wood had become overgrown by the time the Trust acquired the site but these have now been widened, with glades cut on ride junctions.
More than 220 species of ferns and flowering plants have been recorded in Cloud Wood to date. Amongst this total are many rare and local species including herb Paris, violet helleborine, greater butterfly, and bee orchid and broad-leaved hellebornine. Solomon's seal is probably native here, and in the spring the woodland floor is carpeted with wood anemones, bluebells, primroses and many other flowers.
The rides are being managed to enhance their wildlife interest, but they already hold some unusual plants such us carline thistle and blue fleabane. Bird life is not at present diverse but should improve with appropriate management. Signs of badgers, foxes and fallow deer have all been found, and butterflies include speckled wood and white-letter hairstreak.