Know before you go
Parking informationParking by Grafton church near Church Farm. Approx 1.5 miles walk across field.
Grazing animalsCattle and sheep in fields on way to wood
Marked circular nature trail. The Wychavon Way passes through the woodland.
Grass and earth paths; slippery in wet conditions. Access via kissing gate.
When to visit
Opening timesDawn to dusk
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
Jointly owned with Butterfly Conservation, Grafton has been at the heart of one of Worcestershire’s great conservation successes. The wood is the centre of the only colony of brown hairstreak butterflies in the Midlands. These elusive butterflies, on the wing in August and September, have been the subject of a long-term project to ensure their survival. By working with local landowners and encouraging appropriate maintenance of hedgerows, volunteers from both conservation charities have helped the butterflies to increase in range and in numbers.
Grafton Wood is an ancient semi-natural broad-leaved woodland and, until the 1950s was traditionally managed as coppice-with-standards that provided materials for products such as broom handles, pea sticks, hedge-laying, clothes pegs, spars for thatching and firewood. Our management today aims to replicate this tradition and involves widening the rides through the woodland, coppicing and creating glades. We also ensure that there are scrubby areas containing the young blackthorn bushes that are vital for brown hairstreaks to survive. The majority of the canopy at Grafton is ash and oak although we also have a small-leaved lime coppice stool that we think must have originally started as one lime tree at least a thousand years ago. In many places there is a dense shrub layer of field maple, hawthorn and hazel.
It’s not just brown hairstreak butterflies that visitors to Grafton Wood should keep a look out for. The wood is also important for other woodland butterflies including silver-washed fritillaries and white admirals. Notable moths include drab looper, rosy footman, Devon carpet and waved black. Many fungi have been recorded in the wood and it also supports a distinctive flora including herb-paris, adder’s-tongue fern, violet helleborine, spurge laurel and bird’s-nest orchid. Birds including buzzard, goldcrest, treecreeper, lesser and great spotted woodpeckers are regularly seen in the wood and the adjacent meadows and orchards are important for green woodpeckers. Bechstein’s bats were recently discovered in the wood and the colony is thought to be the most northerly breeding roost in the UK.