The Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve at Bracketts Coppice is certainly a must for the nature enthusiast. Although called a copse the reserve covers quite a large area and along with the old coppiced woodland there are some wonderful hay meadows. It is like two reserves in one with such differing habitat types so close together and yet giving totally different species. It is certainly a special place in a remote area of north western Dorset where there is no sound of traffic and few other distractions, it is just you and nature.
The copse itself is actually a wooded river valley. Steep sides lead down through the woods to a fast flowing stream at the bottom. There are records of dipper and kingfisher from here but I am not sure whether that is current or somewhat historical. I certainly saw no trace of either but then I was not there very long! The woodland has a diverse spring flora (including birdsnest orchid) together with many singing birds and later in the year ferns become well established. One word of warning though, the steep paths can also be very muddy and so do not venture there without Wellington boots and take extreme care, especially if alone.
The hay meadows are something else! Recalling Kingcombe in many ways these fields seem to have been left unimproved and are a mass of flowers and grasses including the best display of common spotted orchids I have seen for some time. Where there are damp meadows like this the marsh fritillary can be found and there is a reasonable colony here in late May/early June. There are, of course, lots of other insects too.
There is actually a third area of differing habitat which once had conifers on it but these have been removed to give a wild, damp, scrubby area that is quickly regenerating with natural flora.
I really cannot recommend a visit to Bracketts Coppice enough, it is a top site but do watch out for the very damp, muddy conditions underfoot.