Discover Longleat Forest

Longleat Forest, Wiltshire

Our most southern village is home to some of the most magnificent examples of giant redwoods in the world – in fact, we’re proud to say that one of our trees is the second tallest specimen in Europe. Soaring upwards as far as the eye can say, the giant redwoods (native to California) were introduced in the 1850s as a way of impressing Lord Bath’s guests when riding or walking in the forest.

Our 400 acre site was part of a larger area of woodland which had been managed under the ‘continuous cover’ system of forest management – it has even been regarded as one of the finest examples of this system in the country.

Yellow wildflower

Historic roots 

The forest is home a to a diverse mix of trees which come together to form a mature continuous canopy. In age, they range from veteran trees through to young saplings and include species typical of lowland wood, pasture and parkland. These veteran trees, along with the forest rides and glades which once formed carriage and walking routes for the aristocracy, give a nod to the history of this patch of forest.

We have introduced a series of man-made water bodies, which are fed from Shearwater Lake on the Longleat Estate – these have become important habitats in their own right. Much like Sherwood Forest, Mother Nature stepped in to alter the landscape before construction had even begun, with a storm in 1990 destroying a number of trees and allowing a seed bank of heather to flourish. Once we saw this, we were inspired to continue restoring the heathland and hazel coppice, and we created a further nature reserve at Nockatt Coppice for this very reason.