Hurcott Pool and Woods SSSI
This site is situated at Grid Reference SO 85150 77941. Ample parking is located at this entrance, which is off Hurcott Lane (DY10 3PG). There is also an entrance to the woods located at SO 86446 78120 (DY10 3NL).
The reserve is approximately 50 hectares (124 acres) in size and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its wetland habitats, in particular, the wet woodland.
The site has been open since October 2001 and has seen large visitor numbers. The soft sandy soil within the reserve has meant that erosion caused by dogs has become an issue especially around the main entrance area; which has lead to areas needing reinforcement with low fences. Because of the risk of erosion, cycling and horse riding is not permitted. The wetland area has no public access due to the sensitive nature of its wildlife.
The site consists of mixed broadleaf and coniferous woodland forming the northern side of the valley. The woodland flora is largely areas of bluebells with bramble patches, bracken and various fern. There are also a few patches of rhododendron that need to be controlled.
The valley consists of open water, willow and alder carr woodland/wet woodland. As with the majority of the UK’s wetlands, Hurcott’s wet woodland has suffered for many years from gradual and worsening drying due to falling ground water levels. Substantial works have been carried out by the Environment Agency, installing a series of adjustable weirs, which provide the opportunity to seasonally flood the wetland area, mimicking natural events. The drying out had allowed undesirable plants such as Himalayan balsam and stinging nettle to begin to dominate. The ability to flood these areas will increase the amount of expected wetland flora like greater tussock sedge, marsh marigold and yellow flag Iris. If visitors can overlook the summer presence of mosquitoes and horsefly around the wetland area, they can expect a striking, almost prehistoric view through the wet wood. Many species of dragonfly can be seen hunting and breeding during summer months, including the rarely seen scarce chaser. Grass snake, common toad and heron are regular visitors to both the wet wood and open water habitats of the pool, while great crested grebe regularly use the reed beds in the main pool to rear their young.
There is a specially designed fitness trail (for walkers or runners) with stations along the way to take you though warm ups, techniques for the route and cool downs, this project is part of a Lottery Grant from Sport England.
Are you inquisitive? Do you want to identify different fungi, plants, and wildlife species? If so, try one of the following websites: