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Country parks and open spaces

Barton Farm Country Park is a delightful 36-acre countryside facility bounded by the River Avon and the Kennet and Avon Canal that offers something for everyone - walking, rowing, fishing, nature study or just relaxing with a picnic by the River Avon. The Park was acquired by Wiltshire Council in 1971 and is open to visitors all year round, free of charge.

The Country Park is a place for both people and wildlife. The picnic areas and some paths are closely cut for recreational use, whereas many of the wildlife-rich areas are managed specifically to encourage a wide range of plant species, which support small mammals, birds and insects. Barton Farm Country Park is a place for all seasons; as well as delightful walks and other activities in and around the Country Park, there are historic buildings, craft and tea shops, the Kennet and Avon Canal and the picturesque and historic Bradford on Avon to visit nearby.

The Farmhouse, granary and tithe barn of the original Barton Farm, located close to the entrance of the Park, date back to the 14th century. The packhorse bridge, spanning the River Avon, was built around the same time so that produce could be brought from the other side of the river to be stored in the tithe barn. Many of the buildings are listed structures and the packhorse bridge is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

A pleasant 45-minute walk takes you from the entrance of the park to Avoncliff, either by following the canal towpath from the tithe barn or along the riverside and through the meadows. Whichever route you choose you will see that the Country Park is a haven for wildlife.

At Avoncliff you can hear the rushing weir close to the former cloth mills, a reminder that wool and cloth once formed the basis of the Bradford on Avon economy. Footpaths continue from Avoncliff to the villages of Turleigh, Winsley and Upper Westwood and through the beautiful Lympley Stoke Valley to Bath. The aqueduct at Avoncliff was built by John Rennie between 1746 and 1788 to carry the Kennet and Avon Canal over the river Avon.

  • Location: Barton Farm Country Park is well sign posted and is located off the B3109 on the edge of the historic town of Bradford on Avon.
  • Grid reference: ST 823 603 (entrance)
  • Parking: Although there are no parking facilities within the country park, there is ample parking nearby in the Council car park and at the railway station. The Country Park is only a short walk from the town centre.
  • The nearest public toilets are situated at the railway station car park.
  • Find on google maps

Biss Meadows is situated along the River Biss providing a rich variety of habitats for wildlife; including ponds, scrapes, wildflower meadows, scrub and trees. With such diversity Biss offers a valuable haven for a wide range of birds, mammals and amphibians.

Its central location makes it an ideal place to get close to nature. If you are very lucky you may even catch the blue flash of a Kingfisher along the river.

This area also provides a direct link from Trowbridge Town Centre to the open countryside beyond.

Each season offers something different to see, with over 250 plant species having been recorded. In Spring look out for the yellow cowslips. As the season develops purple loosestrife provides a striking addition and by late Summer the meadow is a riot of colour as more and more plants burst in to flower. Even the chill of Winter brings its own magic to Biss Meadows when the scenery can be completely changed by rising waters or a heavy frost.

Biss Meadows acts as an important flood plain during wet weather, which can result in large areas being under water after extended periods of heavy rain.

The area is popular with local residents and in 2008 a group of residents formed ‘The Friends of Biss Meadows’. This group hold regular working parties and nature inspired events. They are working with Wiltshire Council to enhance this unique area for the benefit of everyone.

For more information on the Friends group please visit their facebook page.

  • Location: Biss Meadows extends from the town centre to the south east edge of Trowbridge and can be accessed from Trowbridge Park.
  • Grid Reference: ST 862574
  • Parking is available in Castle Street car park, which provides access to the main park.
  • The nearest toilets are situated in Trowbridge Park.
  • Find on google maps

This grassland open space is a popular location for the local community and visitors from further away. The site provides a valuable recreational area and car parking adjacent to the two important listed ancient monuments of Bratton Camp Iron Age hill fort and the Westbury White Horse.

The Westbury White Horse is the oldest hill figure in the county and perhaps the most well-known. Cut into the side of Westbury Hill on the edge of Bratton Downs, its location provides panoramic views over Wiltshire and Somerset.

The current horse dates back to 1778 but there has been a white horse at Westbury as far back as AD 878 when the Saxons carved the first horse to commemorate Alfred’s defeat of the Danes at Ethandun. More recently in the 1950s and repeated again in 1995 the White Horse has been concreted and painted in an attempt to reduce its maintenance costs.

Bratton Camp is located within a short distance of the White Horse and is one of a series of fortified encampments on the edge of Salisbury Plain dating back over 2,000 years. If you walk onto the site you will soon appreciate the huge scale of this ancient monument. The area also includes a Neolithic Long Barrow, Bronze Age Round Barrows and a group of sunken track-ways. Both monuments are owned and managed by English Heritage.

  • Location: Access to the site can be gained from the B3098 from either Westbury or Bratton. The lanes up onto the hill are steep and narrow, and are used by horse riders.
  • Grid reference: ST 897 515 (White Horse)
  • Parking: There is ample car parking.
  • Dogs: Dog walkers are requested to clean up after their dogs. The site is extensively used by families and dog mess is both unpleasant and potentially harmful. Please use the dog waste bins provided.
  • There are toilets in Westbury town centre.
  • Find on google maps

Useful contacts:

Westbury Town Council

Bratton Parish Council


Copheap Wood is a magical wood situated on a hillock to the north of Warminster. If you are fit enough to make it to the top you will find a raised area that is in fact an ancient barrow. During an excavation in 1809 by Sir Richard Hoare, the skeleton of a man, believed to be a Saxon Chieftain, was discovered. The skeletons of a woman and a child were also found nearby in an ancient grave.

The most prominent feature of Copheap are the large number of mature beech trees, each one offering offer a magnificent presence to the wood. Why not try and find the beech with a crinkly trunk? Underneath these towering old trees dead wood is left in situ on the damp woodland floor, providing ideal growing conditions for rare fungi, plants and Insects. These in turn are of course food for the other inhabitants of the wood.

Natural regeneration in the wood has been really prolific with hundreds, maybe thousands of new saplings competing for light. These young trees will need thinning in the future to ensure both the health of the trees and the woodland flora beneath them. In compliment to this we will also be creating some shelter glades for butterflies; involving the creation small clearings in the wood. We’d really like your help with these projects, so if you are interested and have some time to spare why not contact the Ranger Service at Wiltshire Council to find out more.

A path leads from Copheap Lane into the woods. The path, along with the wooden shelter at the top; were built to provide a lasting war memorial for the residents of Warminster who fought in both World Wars.

The area to the east of the woods is a designated wildlife site, owned by the MOD. This area is mainly chalk grassland and is rich in plant species, providing valuable habitats for many different butterflies.

Panoramic views of the surrounding countryside are provided from both the barrow site and the open grassland.

  • Location: Cop heap Wood is situated to the north of Warminster. Access is available from both Cop heap Lane and Elm Hill.
  • Grid Reference: ST 882456
  • Parking is available in a small lay-by in Elm Hill. A public footpath running south leads up to the wood.
  • The nearest public toilets are situated in the car park off Station Road.
  • Find on google maps

This Council-owned car parking area provides access to the adjacent site known as Figsbury Ring, which is owned and managed by the National Trust.

Figsbury Ring is well worth a visit. From the car park you walk out onto this intriguing monument to find superb panoramic views across Wiltshire. There is slight confusion as to whether this is the site of a hill fort or a henge because unlike other hill forts Figsbury has an inner ditch, a characteristic common to henges. Aside from its designation as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) it is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its rich chalk downland flora and fauna, including a population of the adonis blue butterfly.

  • Location: The site is located off the A30 north east of Salisbury at the top of a privately owned track that might not be suitable for all vehicles
  • Grid reference: SU 184 338
  • There is ample parking at the site
  • There are no public toilet facilities local to the site
  • Find on google maps

Oakfrith Wood Local Nature Reserve (LNR) forms part of the Urchfont Manor Estate, the former home of the Pollock family. The woodland which extends to 14.1 hectares, was purchased by the Council along with the rest of the estate in 1945 to establish a residential adult education college.

The wood, which is shown on the 1784 tithe map and was then called Oakfrith Coppice, is one of the larger blocks of woodland remaining in the Pewsey Vale, an area denuded of trees by Dutch Elm Disease in the early 1970s.

Oakfrith, as its old name suggests, is of ancient woodland origin and although most of the wood has been replanted over the years a small area of the ancient woodland remains, with ancient woodland ground flora remaining in many parts of the woodland. Following a major felling in 1917 for the war effort the wood appears to have been neglected until 1928, when Rivers and Eveline Pollock took it in hand. Most of the woodland was than replanted during the early 1930s (85% broadleaf/conifer mix and 15% pure conifer). Much of the conifer planting has been removed through thinning over the years and the final area of pure conifer was felled in 1996. An additional area of trees, adjoining the wood, was planted in 2000 to celebrate the millennium.

The wood is managed by ‘The Friends of Oakfrith Wood’, a group representing the Council, Urchfont Manor College and the local community. The aim of the group is to promote the long-term, multi-purpose, sensitive management of Oakfrith and to restore its ancient woodland character, whilst encouraging sound woodland management. The wood was designated a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in May 2004.

  • Location: Oakfrith Wood LNR is located at the western edge of the village of Urchfont and can be accessed via the Byway (leading from the B3098) or from the village and the grounds of Urchfont Manor via a permissive path across farmland
  • Grid reference: SU 027 570
  • Limited parking is available at the wood. Cars are left at owner’s risk
  • Please clean up after your dog and keep it on a lead during your visit
  • No public toilet facilities are available locally
  • Find on google maps

Useful links

Urchfont Parish Council - Friends of Oakfirth Wood


In 1989 Wiltshire Council purchased an area of agricultural land to provide space for leisure. Located on the edge of Trowbridge, this 100 acre site has a distinct rural feel to it.

The area consists of several fields, each with its unique atmosphere. A series of paths link the fields, and a gravel circular path provides suitable access for wheelchair users. There is also a network of less formal paths that are mown through the rough grass.

This is a popular place for walking and it provides good opportunities for bird watching. The network of hedges, scrub and ditches offers both food and habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. Keep your eyes open for: woodpeckers searching for insects or buzzards soaring above the park, water voles and tadpoles swimming in the waters, or rabbits and the occasional deer grazing on the grass.

Volunteers get involved with a number of conservation activities in the country park, and regular work parties take place. If you are interested in volunteering please contact us.

There is a small picnic area and light refreshments can be purchased from Squirrels tea-room at Hope Nature Centre within the country park. The animals within the Hope Nature centre provide an added attraction for the family, where goats, alpacas, horses, rabbits and poultry can be seen.

  • Location: Southwick Country Park is situated south of Trowbridge town on the A361
  • Grid Reference: ST 842560 (entrance)
  • There is a car park at the main entrance on the A361
  • The Hope Nature Centre, situated within the country park, has a cafe where light refreshments can be purchased. There is also a small animal centre in the Hope Nature Centre. Further information can be found at: www.hopenaturecentre.org.uk
  • Find on google maps

It is hard to believe that this attractive site was once an old scrap yard. The Council created the picnic area in 1971, with generous support from the then Countryside Commission. It is just on the edge of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and one of a number of countryside sites which the Council provides in Wiltshire.

There are plenty of interesting walks from here with splendid views of the downs and surrounding countryside. This area is rich in wildlife and you will find a wealth of archaeological features dating back to prehistoric times. To find out more you might want to visit the excellent museums in Devizes and Avebury.

The name ‘Smallgrain’ is believed to originate from an early field name, a somewhat derogatory term for an unproductive area of poor soil.

The unimproved chalk grassland of the downs with its rich variety of grasses, herbs and flowers is a haven for insects, birds and small mammals. Morgan’s Hill nature reserve, managed by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is a short walk from the Picnic Site. For a short circular walk to the nature reserve, follow the Morgan’s Hill nature trail (about 1½ miles), which starts at the rear of the picnic area. An information leaflet for Morgan’s Hill nature reserve is available from the Wildlife Trust.

  • Location: Smallgrain Picnic Site is situated north east of Devizes off the A361 on the Bishops Cannings to Quemerford road
  • Grid Reference: SU 020 671
  • There is ample parking at this site
  • The nearest toilets are situated in Devizes
  • Find on google maps


Westbury White Horse Viewing Area is a small car park that allows unrestricted views of the historic Westbury White Horse which is high up on the steep chalk slope.

The Westbury White Horse is the oldest hill figure in the county and perhaps the most well-known. Cut into the side of Westbury Hill on the edge of the Bratton Downs its location provides panoramic views over Wiltshire and Somerset.

The current horse dates back to 1778 but there has been a white horse at Westbury as far back as AD 878 when the Saxons carved the first horse to commemorate Alfred’s defeat of the Danes at Ethandun. More recently in the 1950s and again in 1995, the White Horse has been concreted and painted in an attempt to reduce its maintenance costs.

  • Location: Westbury White Horse Viewing Area is located on the B3098 between Westbury and Bratton
  • Grid reference: ST 886 517
  • There is parking for about 15 cars
  • There are public toilets in Westbury town centre
  • Find on google maps

Wilton Windmill is the last complete surviving windmill in Wiltshire. Built in 1821 by a local builder as a five-floor brick tower mill with round house, it continued to work until the 1920s when it was superseded by modern electric and steam-powered mills; following the same fate as the majority of England’s wind and watermills at the time.

In 1971 Wilton Windmill was purchased by the former then Wiltshire County Council and then leased to the Wiltshire Historic Buildings Trust. Wiltshire Council, along with the Wiltshire Historic Buildings Trust, the Government, local councils and public subscription managed to raise the funds needed to restore the then nearly derelict windmill. After five years of work the mill began to make flour again for the first time in over 50 years. The Council is responsible for all grounds and building maintenance.

Wilton Windmill is located within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), overlooking the Kennet and Avon Canal and the attractive undulating landscape of the Vale of Pewsey.

The site is open all year round and the mill is open from Easter to September 31st. For more information about the windmill and opening times please visit http://www.wiltonwindmill.co.uk/.

  • Location: The windmill is located on top of Wilton Hill, off the A338 approximately 500 metres east of Wilton Village and east of Burbage
  • Grid reference: SU 276 617
  • There is no vehicular access permitted on site but there is a layby for parking close by
  • There is a Portaloo on site
  • Find on google maps

Woodhenge picnic area is a Council countryside facility situated adjacent to the historic site of Woodhenge.

Woodhenge is a Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age monument originally comprising a series of concentric circles of wooden poles within a circular bank and ditch and has a similar diameter to Stonehenge. This site was first discovered in 1925 when rings of dark spots in a crop of wheat were noticed on aerial photographs. Excavation of the site then showed that the dark spots were holes for wooden posts. The site originally consisted of six rings of wooden posts radiating out from a central point. They were enclosed within an earthen bank and ditch with a north east entrance as at Stonehenge.

Woodhenge has conventionally been dated to about 2300-2000BC, making it contemporary with the building of the stone circle of Stonehenge. But excavations in the 1970s using new radio carbon dating techniques suggested that it could be more recent.

Excavations during the 1970s at Woodhenge also revealed that a child had been buried near to the centre of the enclosure. The skull of the child had been split. Was this for a religious or ritual reason? Early prehistory monuments often include human remains. These are thought to be sacrifices or offerings to mark the beginning of its use.

Woodhenge Picnic Area is a County Wildlife Site for its botanical value. The Council manages the picnic area to protect and enhance this value as well as to provide an area for quiet enjoyment for visitors.

Please be careful when crossing the road to get to Woodhenge from the picnic area.

  • Location: Woodhenge Picnic Area is situated on the A345 just off the A303 north of Amesbury.
  • Grid Reference: SU 152 434
  • Parking: There is currently parking for about five cars at the picnic site.
  • There are no toilet facilities on site.
  • Find on google maps

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Last updated: 29 March 2018 | Last reviewed: 29 March 2018