Great Merrible Wood
Location and access
OS map ref: SP 834962 (Sheet 141)
The reserve lies in the Eye Brook Valley 4 km south-west of Uppingham. The entrance to the reserve is off the Horninghold to Great Easton road, about 0.5 km south-east of the crossroads with the B664 Uppingham - Medbourne road. Park on the roadside verge at SP 831958. Enter by a field gate, walk along the field with the hedge to your left to the next field, then across it to the entrance to the wood.
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.
The wood, which covers 12 ha, is owned by the Trust and is part of the Eye Brook Valley Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest.
History, habitats & management
There is no completely reliable reference to the wood earlier than 1824 (O.S. one inch series, sheet 63 first printing), but it is likely that at least parts of the present site have been wooded for much longer. One section of the wood shows clear signs of ridge-and-furrow cultivation, and the flora of this area differs significantly from the rest of the wood, Coppice management appears to have been practiced up to the Second World War.
The following names appear on various early maps but not all apply precisely to the area now wooded: Mirabel Wood, Hallick Stepings, Stepings Wood, Holyoaks Wood (adjacent to Merrible), Merivale Holt, Great Easton Common.
The wood has a canopy of ash and pedunculate oak trees with a varied shrub layer including hazel and field maple. There are a number of paths, drainage ditches, streams and a pond.
Most of the wood is being managed with minimal intervention to encourage the growth of old trees, but coppicing has been re-introduced to some parts to benefit animals and plants which prefer open spaces in woodland.
Features of interest
The wood is a good example of modified ancient woodland with its 'layers' of canopy, shrub and herbs and, is part of the east Leicestershire ancient woodland complex. It has a wonderful show of bluebells in spring. The wood also has populations of unusual species such as herb paris, broadleaved helleborine and violet helleborine. It has reputedly the most varied fungus flora of any wood in Leicestershire.
The wood is a breeding place for various common woodland birds and a refuge and feeding place for badgers, foxes, deer and various small mammals. A number of first county records of invertebrate species have been made in the wood.
Live near here? Want to help out?
Why not join one of our teams of volunteers. We have regular work parties covering reserves in this area including Great Merrible Wood. For more information contact us.