Habitat & Countryside
Countryside in the City
Gloucester has a wonderful selection of countryside sites for you to visit in the City. As well as seeing interesting wildlife, you can uncover a fascinating story of history and geology.
What we do
Gloucester City Council's Countryside Unit manages these areas to protect and enhance our natural environment for wildlife and people.
- look after a country park and nature reserves
- strive to make sure our sites are safe and well maintained
- improve our sites for the benefit of wildlife and visitors
- enhance the City's biodiversity
- promote countryside conservation through guided walks and educational events
- work with community groups and volunteers
- give talks and slideshows about Gloucester's countryside.
Where can you visit?
Our main sites are:
- Alney Island Local Nature Reserve - managed by grazing, it is an important habitat for wetland flora and fauna.
The flood meadows of Alney Island, within easy walking distance of Gloucester City centre, are managed for public recreation and nature conservation.
The car park for the Nature Reserve is on the westbound side of the Westgate Bridge (grid ref. SO823190), although the site has a number of pedestrian accesses, and the island is crossed by SUSTRANS National route 45 cycleway.Please be aware that Alney Island is prone to flooding on high tides and following periods of heavy rain.
Much of Alney Island is managed as a wetland nature reserve to conserve and enhance this important habitat and its wildlife. Marshes and wetlands such as this were once commonplace but in the last 60 years or so, many were drained for agriculture.
The Island is also a great place to view the Severn Bore at certain times of the year, either from Over Bridge or the Lower Parting (where the two arms of the river join).
To open a map of Alney Island, please click hereWho looks after Alney Island?
The management and maintenance of the Nature Reserve is the responsibility of Gloucester City Council's Countryside Unit. A series of walks and events are held by the Countryside Rangers throughout the year.
The Friends of Alney Island also hold a work event on the 3rd Friday of each month to assist with the management of the site. For more information, please contact:Friends of Alney Island PO Box 3155 Gloucester GL1 9AA email@example.com
- Hucclecote Meadows SSSI and LNR- a remnant of Gloucester's historic hay meadows, with abundant wild flowers.
Ancient hay meadows saved from development in the 1980s, traditionally managed to conserve the diverse wildflowers that were a common feature of meadows.
The main entrance to Hucclecote Meadows is located on Lobley's Drive, opposite Laxton Road (grid ref: SO871164)
As an important remnant of these once common areas, Hucclecote Meadows is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) the highest level of protection that can be applied. It is also a Local Nature Reserve in recognition of its importance to the community.
Two more fields forming part of the SSSI may be found by crossing the bridge over the M5 motorway, These other fields are outside the City boundary, one being in Tewkesbury Borough, and one in Stroud District.Who looks after Hucclecote Meadows?
Gloucester City Council's Countryside Unit is responsible for the management and maintenance of the meadows on the Gloucester side of the M5. The Countryside Rangers hold a series of guided walks and events throughout the year.
Management of the remainder is currently overseen by Nicholas Pearson Associates, on behalf of the housing developers.
The Friends of Hucclecote Meadows hold a work event on the 2nd Friday of each month to assist the Countryside Rangers with management of the site.
- Quedgeley Local Nature Reserve- this former garden arboretum boasts an impressive list of birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates.
- Robinswood Hill Country Park, SSSI & Local Nature Reserve- 100 Hectares (250 acres) of Cotswold countryside within 2 miles of the city centre. Explore the footpaths and nature trails giving extensive views of the city and surrounding countryside. A wonderful place to get away from it all for a walk, a picnic, to watch wildlife, or simply to chill out and get some fresh air. With views stretching from the Cotswold edge to the Black Mountains, and the Shropshire hills to the Severn bridges, a climb to the top of Robinswood Hill is invigorating.
As a country park and a local nature reserve Robinswood Hill is managed for people and wildlife.
The old quarry, visible from the Stroud Road, is also designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its geological interest.
To find out more about the history, geology, and wildlife of Robinswood Hill, there is an information leaflet, available. Please click here to view.Who looks after Robinswood Hill?
Gloucester City Council's Countryside Unit is responsible for the management and maintenance of Robinswood Hill.
The Countryside Rangers also run a programme of guided walks and events throughout the year, and are happy to lead walks for community groups.The Friends of Robinswood Hill
The Friends of Robinswood Hill is an independent society set up in 1975 to promote interest in the Hill. We work closely with the Countryside Unit to help ensure that the Hill is cared for.
In addition, the countryside rangers assist with the management of Barnwood Arboretum and other nature conservation areas in and around the City.
(Winter Warmer - firewood for sale As a byproduct of sustainable woodland conservation, the Countryside Unit has c.25Kg bags of cut and split seasoned hardwood logs for sale. £6 each or 2 for £10).
For more information, please contact:
Countryside UnitRobinswood Hill Country Park Reservoir Road Gloucester, GL4 6SX Tel: 01452 303206 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Severnside Project focuses on land between the River Severn and the Sharpness Ship Canal, from Gloucester all the way to Arlingham. A Project Officer works on issues of conservation, environmental management and community participation.
Free guide to Waterside Walks in Gloucester is now available. A free guide highlighting four waterside walks between the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal and the River Severn is now available from the Tourist Information Centre in the city centre. The four walks range from 1.5-5.5 miles and take in little known and glorious countryside on the doorstep of Gloucester. However, please note that one walk (the yellow route) passes through urban, industrial suburbs and circumnavigates Hempsted Landfill Site. Some walkers may not find this as attractive as the three other walks, but this is still a major part of the Severnside Project area and hopefully will also be appreciated for its unique character.
We are fortunate in Gloucester to have one of England's greatest rivers flowing through its rural/urban fringe. The River Severn is not only a wonderful visual and wildlife amenity, it also carries centuries of local folklore, culture and on going tradition. It is difficult to separate Gloucester's history from the River. Its very location is a result of being the lowest crossing point, a crossroads between England and Wales. Of similar importance to the City is the Sharpness Ship Canal, completed in 1827, for years it provided Gloucester with its wealth and status. It is somewhat quieter now, however it is still appreciated for its recreational, wildlife and visual value. The Severnside Project focuses on the area between these 2 great waterways, from Gloucester to Elmore and through the employment of a project officer it helps manage the land to:
- Conserve enhance and manage important habitats in order to enhance biodiversity in the area.
- Conserve, enhance and manage the traditional landscape character of the flood plain.
- Increase opportunities for quiet informal countryside recreation.
- Provide opportunities for local community participation in the project and environmental education.
- Enable some of the land to be profitably farmed and managed in an environmentally sensitive manner with wildlife in mind.
To achieve these aims the project works with local landowners, community groups, businesses, volunteers and schools. Projects vary and include working with local volunteers to improve the public rights of way network. The project also works very closely with local landowners to access government sponsored agri environment schemes that will enable long lasting habitat, landscape and access improvements.
AWARD FOR THE SEVERNSIDE PROJECT!
The Severnside Project received a top award in recognition of its work conserving the county's most endangered mammal, the water vole. The project officer and volunteers continue to monitor the water vole population and to carry out management to allow it to spread out from its original release site. The project area is a unique tract of land that offers great opportunities for the quiet enjoyment of the countryside within easy reach of the city centre.
Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan
Habitats and species in Gloucestershire have, as with much of the UK, suffered dramatic declines in recent decades, with many once common species becoming increasingly rare. The aim of the Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) is to achieve a county that is richer in wildlife.
What is Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the whole variety of life on Earth, all species of plants and animals, their genetic variation and the habitats they are part of. It includes not just rare or the threatened but also the wildlife that is familiar to us in the places where we live and work.
Why does Biodiversity Matter?
Without biodiversity we could not survive. The loss of too much habitat and too many species would threaten the functioning of our natural environment. Biodiversity supports our lives by regulating the chemical composition of the atmosphere, soil, lakes, oceans and it can also moderate the climate. Biodiversity provides the food we eat and can improve the quality and quantity of the water we drink. It supplies us with medicines, clothes, fuel and building materials.
Biodiversity as vegetation can assist us in defending our land, homes and businesses from floods and erosion. Biodiversity can also help to protect us from nutrient, dust and noise pollution by natural processes. Animals, fungi and bacteria help to break down some of our waste and create productive soils. Biodiversity provides a better living environment with health, recreational and inspirational benefits. It is an important part of the tourism industry and contributes to a sense of place. It forms the natural landscapes of mountains, woodlands, wetlands and coastlines that we value so much. Biodiversity is appreciated by many people as is shown by the large numbers that belong to or work for nature conservation organisations, record species, follow nature trails or just enjoy wildlife.
For more information on the Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan