Clouts Wood and Markham Banks, Wroughton
Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Clouts Wood is part of a quite large nature reserve in Wroughton, Wiltshire. The reserve itself is a connected habitat, which starts with Kings Farm Wood, moves into the wonderfully named Diocese Meadows before a steep climb takes you through Clouts Wood to Markham Banks where you can gaze down at the wonderful views across to Wroughton and Swindon. The aptly named Markham Banks is a steep sided chalk grassland bank and at the top, the land levels out and you find yourself at the old site of RAF Wroughton - which is now owned by the Science Museum who store some of their larger exhibits there, and let the track out to people like Jeremy Clarkson to test cars for The Grand Tour TV show on Amazon.
The walk from one side of the reserve is surprisingly energetic as there is a constant incline from top to bottom and there are plenty of tributary paths and a variety of steep climbs to make sure each visit here can be quite different. The site is 62 hectares ( 153 acres ) so large enough to get a good hour long walk in and the scenery is so diverse that there is much to take in from all the contrasting landscapes.
I visited in early June and there was a strong smell of wild garlic in Clouts Wood and I was overjoyed to read that the rare Bath asparagus (aka the spiked star of Bethlehem) grows here in late June.
In the middle of the reserve are two fields known as Diocese Meadows. These are used to graze livestock, and the fields are glebe land which is leased from the Diocese of Bristol. The meadows connect Kings Farm Wood to Clouts Wood and Markham Banks, and act as the link that bridges this large connected habitat together.
The whole reserve, managed by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is a real jewel in the crown of Wiltshire and is a place I know I will return to many times.
The best place to access the reserve is from Badgers Brook in Wroughton. A small bridge takes you into Kings Farm Wood. Please note that Badgers Brook is a residential street with limited parking, but there is a small Co-op supermarket nearby with a car park.
More information and a reserve leaflet with a map can be found here: Clouts Wood