Skip navigation |

Marsland Valley Nature Reserve

Two large, steep-sided valleys with mixed oak woodland, bracken slopes, traditional hay meadows, wildflower meadows and coastline.

Location of Marsland nature reserve
Habitat type
: Mixed woodland, grassland, heath and scrub with streams
Size of reserve: 186 hectares / 460 acres
OS map number: 126
Grid reference: SS 232 172 (Gooseham Mill)
Best time to visit: All year
Managed jointly with Devon Wildlife Trust

European DesignationInformation BoardAmphibians on siteSnakes on siteLoose livestock likelymammals on sitebirdwatching availableInteresting InsectsButterflies in seasonFlower interestViewpoint on siteSite of Special Scientific Interest
roll over icon for information

On the A39 at Crimp, turn right (if travelling towards Bude) or left (if towards Bideford) sign-posted to CSOS Morwenstow/Riding Stables. After 2 miles (3.5 km) at the shop turn right for Gooseham and then left before the riding stables and go past the farm at West Gooseham. At the T-junction turn right and carry on for a further 1 km until the road bends sharply to the left. Here there is limited parking on the track to the right (SS 217 169).

Parking elsewhere is not possible without obstructing access. Car owners park at own risk and Devon Wildlife Trust takes no responsibility for people’s property. This site can also be accessed via the South West Coast Path.

There are rights of way over the reserve, but otherwise access is by permit only, obtainable from Devon Wildlife Trust. Parking is available (see above). The terrain is generally quite rough, rocky and muddy.

Characteristic wildlife of this reserve
The roe deer has a summer coat of reddish brown which turns grey in winter and has a distinctive black stripe on its lip and a white chin and white rump patch. This species is unusual among hoofed animals as the egg is fertilised at the time of mating, but does not develop for several months, called delayed implantation.

The female of the purple hairstreak gives the butterfly its name, for it is only she that is adorned with the flush of royal purple iridescence, the male being very dark. Whilst not particularly uncommon, they can be a very difficult insect to see because they fly high up over the oak trees. Moreover, they are often inactive, sometimes spending a long time basking in the sun. Look for them in late July and August.

Other information
The reserve was donated by Christopher Cadbury, one-time president of the Royal Society for Nature Conservation, and is now jointly managed by Cornwall and Devon Wildlife Trusts.

The South West Coast Path runs through the reserve.

A butterfly recording transect has been running here since the 1980s.