Lime trees on the River Witham – East Midlands

Go in search of flora and fauna in an ancient Lincolnshire woodland

Christ Goldberg Flickr


Southrey Woods is one of several lovely woodlands in the East Midlands that provides a location for summer time walks for nature lovers. You’ll find the woodland east of Lincoln between Bardney and Southrey, a short distance from the River Witham, a peaceful and remote river that rolls through the flat Lincolnshire countryside between Boston and Lincoln. The river was canalised between 1763 and 1771.

“Southrey Wood forms part of the Lincolnshire Limewoods,” says Canal & River Trust ecologist Imogen Wilde. The wood is owned by the Forestry Commission and forms part of the Bardney Limewoods, a group of nine separate woodlands dominated by the small-leaved lime. These sites have been managed as high forest and coppice since at least the 11th century and overlie a variety of soil types, giving rise to varied ground flora and different tree and shrub communities.

Most of the wood is an SSSI because of the ancient woodland fauna. The 22-acre site includes a well-managed coppice of small-leaved lime, hazel, ash and oak, while the ground flora includes early purple orchid, devil’s-bit scabious and yellow archangel. The wood also has a selection of interesting fauna that includes grass snake, nightingale and woodcock. There are also numerous species of butterfly, including purple hairstreak, brown hairstreak, white admiral and white-letter hairstreak. Nearby attractions include Bardney Abbey and the dramatic ruins of Tupholme Abbey.

As well as Southrey Woods, Wilde recommends other woodlands in the region including Stoke Lock And Woods on the River Trent, planted just after the lock was constructed in 1927. “The River Trent also passes alongside the Attenborough Nature Reserve, which is primarily wet grassland but there is some woodland there too,” says Imogen. “The woodland around Harthill reservoir is lovely and has some very old crab apple trees.”