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Wiltshire countryside

Wiltshire Council's aim is to protect and conserve Wiltshire's countryside heritage and provide facilities, access and opportunities for people to enjoy it.

To find out more about dog walking in Wiltshire, download our dog walkers’ guide on the right-hand side of this page.

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A number of nature reserves are open to the public and located across Wiltshire. These are managed by a range of organisations including Natural England, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, community groups and Wiltshire Council.

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The council's countryside and rights of way team runs a range of events throughout the year to encourage more people to visit and enjoy the countryside. The wide range of activities offer something for everyone, whatever your interest, age or ability.

To contact us about any of our countryside events, please email countryside@wiltshire.gov.uk or call 01225 718647. You can also download the countryside events leaflet on the right-hand side of this page.

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We directly own, lease and manage a number of countryside sites across Wiltshire that are open to the public for quiet recreation and enjoyment. Some sites are countryside destinations in their own right, while others provide gateways to the wider countryside. Many of the sites have high nature conservation, landscape, archaeological, historical or recreational value. Our sites include:

  • Avon Valley Local Nature Reserve
  • Barton Farm Country Park
  • Bratton Camp open space
  • Drews Pond Wood Local Nature Reserve
  • Figsbury Ring car park
  • Harnham Slope
  • Southwick Country Park
  • Smallgrain picnic area
  • Westbury white horse viewing area
  • Wilton windmill
  • Woodhenge picnic area

For more information on these and other sites, email countryside@wiltshire.gov.uk.

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We manage a number of countryside sites that can be used as an environmental education resource. Email countryside@wiltshire.gov.uk for more information.

A range of other organisations in Wiltshire offer educational support and information to schools, colleges, home education groups and individual. These include:

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Countryside volunteering

There are lots of opportunities to get involved as a volunteer in improving Wiltshire's environment. To volunteer with Wiltshire Council on our countryside sites or rights of way, email countryside@wiltshire.gov.uk or rightsofway@wiltshire.gov.uk.

Wiltshire's county farms estate


Wiltshire's Rural Estate currently extends to 2,185 hectares (5,400 acres). with 33 equipped farms, six cottages and numerous parcels of bare land. The estate is primarily pasture based and the majority of the farms are let for dairying purposes. These dairy farms have an average size of 49 hectares (122 acres) and are predominantly located in the northern half of the county. The non dairy units are let as arable, beef or outdoor pig units, some on a part-time and others on a full-time basis.

Rents on the estate vary from £75 per hectare (£30 per acre) for seasonal short-term grass keep type lets to more than £370 per hectare (£150 per acre) on the larger dairy farms.

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The county farms service does not hold a waiting or mailing list, preferring to advertise opportunities that arise from time to time in the most targeted and appropriate manner via local agents and in the local and national farming press.

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When opportunities arise for re-letting equipped farms, officers of the council, in liaison with the member portfolio holder, consider whether to only offer the farm to existing tenants on the estate to facilitate progression, or to offer the farm on the open market. Due to a continuing policy of rationalisation, there has not been an open market re-letting for several years.

However, all open market lettings would be advertised in both the local, regional and national press to capture the maximum number of prospective applicants. Particulars of the letting are available following the payment of a small fee and applications invited from prospective applicants after an accompanied viewing day has been held.

Interested applicants have to submit an application to the council that must include financial, practical and other management proposals, from which a shortlist is selected for interview for the holding on offer.

All councils are guided by The Agriculture Act 1970 and The Smallholdings (Selection of Tenants) Regulations 1970 [S.I. 1970 No. 1049] and The Smallholdings (Selection of Tenants) (Amendment) Regulations 1976 [S.I.1976 No. 2001] for selecting suitable applicants. In essence, applicants should be able to demonstrate that they have:

  • Sufficient capital available to enter the holding and work it, at least five years of appropriate practical experience of farming, of which up to three years of appropriate further education or training can be included.
  • The ability to show that they have sufficient capital to enter a holding and work it. This can be quite substantial for a fully equipped dairy farm where an incoming tenant may be required to pay for the outgoer’s fixtures and fittings, and provide the required live and dead stock to properly farm the holding.
  • Suitable practical and theoretical knowledge and experience required for the type of farming most suited to the available holding.
  • The ability and inclination to reside in the farmhouse when let with one, and to personally farm the holding.
  • Appropriate environmental management aims for the holding on offer.

estates@wiltshire.gov.uk  
Rural Estate Manager
Strategic Property
Department of Resources
Wiltshire Council
County Hall
Trowbridge
Wiltshire
BA14 8JN

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From time to time,we have surplus farms that we sell with vacant possession on the open market. We do not hold a mailing list of potential purchasers, as we advertise such opportunities in the local, regional and national specialist press.

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Last updated: 19 October 2016 | Last reviewed: 19 October 2016