Wildlife in Leigh Woods

Close up of Bristol Whitebeam

The city of Bristol can still be seen from the edge of Leigh Woods, but despite its proximity to this urban hub, wildlife thrives here.


The caves and veteran trees provide valuable winter roosts for bats, including the rare greater and lesser horseshoe bats and Daubenton’s bat. Look out for them at dusk.


Leigh Woods is a very rich site for invertebrates, including pauper pug and silky wave moths, white letter hairstreak butterfly, many beetles, spiders and flies.


The woods are home to a good variety of birds including the Red List (threatened) bullfinch, marsh tit and song thrush. Peregrine falcon and ravens breed in the Avon Gorge, listen out for their calls.
Let us know what you see during your visit


Leigh Woods is known for its exceptionally rich limestone rock flora which includes nationally rare plants such as Bristol rock-cress and western spiked speedwell. Honewort, fingered sedge, dwarf sedge, dwarf mouse-ear, and rock stone crop are also rarities that can be found in the area.

Little–robin and lesser meadow-rue, both of restricted national distribution, have been recorded at the gorge, fly orchid and bee orchid have also been recorded here. Angular Solomon’s seal occurs in the woodland.

The Whitebeams of Leigh Woods

The Avon Gorge is probably the richest site for Whitebeams in the world, there are several species which only grow here. The National Nature Reserve is a very important site for these whitebeams, for example it has a large percentage of the population of three endemic species: Bristol whitebeam, Leigh Woods whitebeam and Wilmott’s whitebeam.

The Whitebeams of Cheddar Gorge & Leigh Woods

Brian Muelaner explores Cheddar Gorge & Leigh Woods and learns of the discovery of new Whitebeam species.