Visiting the Doward

Visiting the Doward

The Doward: a rare and precious landscape

The Doward Hills is around a thousand acres in size and is made up of two areas - The Great Doward and the Little Doward. The Doward lies at the heart of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is home to some amazing wildlife. Much of this area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and managed as Nature Reserves. The Woodland Trust, Forestry England and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust work together to manage the area.

The Doward is a patchwork of woodland, hedgerows and small fields. Here you will find ancient features and native woodlands, caves, remnants of old quarries, pasture, wildflower meadow, relicts of heathland and a hillfort. There are also small areas of limestone pavement, a small wetland with tufa springs and riverbank vegetation.

View of path beside hedgerow through grasses

White Rocks Nature Reserve (Katie Harris)

The Wildlife of the Doward

This wonderful mix of habitats supports an astonishing diversity of wildlife with over 5,468 different species recorded in the area. Rare species such as the wood white, grizzled skipper and white admiral butterflies, wood warblers, hawfinches and lesser spotted woodpeckers all breed here. Over 600 species of plant and 1,500 species of fungi grow on the Doward including three species that haven’t been found at any other site in the world.  Many rare insects can also be found in open areas. These species are vulnerable to disturbance and habitat damage. 

Autumn woodland scene with remnants of stone wall covered with moss

White Rocks Nature Reserve (c) Paul Cooper

Enjoy your visit

The Doward has an excellent network of public footpaths and bridleways and there is permissive access on many of the Nature Reserves and publicly owned land to allow you to explore this wonderful place. 


Your Responsibilities

Please follow these guidelines when you visit:

  • No fires or barbeques.
  • Please take all litter home with you
  • No wild camping or overnight stays – please use official campsites only.
  • Cycling and horse riding is only authorised on stone-surfaced forest roads and bridleways.
  • No public access to the river for swimming and water sports.
  • Climbing is only permissible by licence in specific areas.
  • Be a responsible do owner: take all dog mess home with you and keep dogs on leads around livestock and during the breeding bird season

Follow the Countryside Code: Respect, Protect , Enjoy

"It's surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth." David Attenborough.