A woodland reserve teeming with wildlife and ancient atmosphere, Prior’s Coppice is a relic of the wildwood that once covered all of Leicestershire and Rutland. When you step beneath the trees, you can feel how old this remnant of woodland is. Some of the trees are several hundred years old and centuries of management have led to an ideal habitat for birds, beasts and butterflies (and botanists!).

Location

Braunston, Oakham
LE15 8DB

OS Map Reference

SK 832049 (Sheet 141)
A static map of Prior's Coppice

Know before you go

Size
29 hectares

Entry fee

Free

Parking information

Nature reserve car park

Access

The reserve is situated south of Braunston village near Oakham, in the county of Rutland. From Braunston take the road towards Leighfield. After the sharp left bend at the top of the hill take the next right turn, sign-posted to Leighfield Lodge. Proceed another 800m and you will see the reserve car park on the right, just before a gate across the road. Waterproof footwear is always recommended.

Access is through a kissing gate. Please be aware that there are wet rides all year round.

The Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust does not control the shooting rights to this reserve, which may take place all year round.

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Always open

Best time to visit

Spring and autumn

About the reserve

Prior’s Coppice is one of the best examples of woodland in the two counties. A walk here will bring you close to some lovely woodland birds, mammals, flowers and trees, and even the possibility of a grass snake! Badger, fox, stoat and muntjac have all been seen here, as well as 71 species of birds – over 40 of which have bred.Nuthatch, blackcap, garden warbler have been joined in the spring by rare visitors, like pied flycatcher and redstart.

Some interesting invertebrates have been recorded here, including the very local speckled bush-cricket and the slug Limax cinereoniger. More than 200 species of moth have been recorded, and orange tip and brimstone butterflies are common in spring. Both purple and white-letter hairstreaks can be seen in late spring. So far, 230 species of flowering plants and ferns have been recorded, and there are large colonies of wood anemone, early-purple orchid, wood-sorrel and wood forget-me-not, as well as broad-leaved helleborine, ragged-robin and common spotted-orchid.

 

As well as looking out for wildlife, you can read the trees here much like you can read a history book. You can see the signs of centuries of traditional management, in the form of giant coppice 'stools'. When most native British trees are cut down they do not die, but the stump, or 'stool', throws up numerous poles, which can be harvested every few years. This process, known as coppicing, prolongs the life of some trees, and there are examples in Prior's Coppice with stools 5m across - several hundred years old! Conservation management of the woodland now involves coppicing in some areas, whilst leaving some others to grow wild.

The wide rides present in the wood contain wonderful examples of woodland marshy grassland, a distinctive but increasingly rare habitat in our counties.

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)