Plymbridge Woods is owned by the National Trust and is managed as part of the Plym Valley estate which covers an area of over 4000 acres. The Plym Valley comprises of rugged tors and open moorland before turning into a wooded valley carved out by the river Plym.
Plymbridge Woods covers approximately 200 acres (80 ha) of woodland and meadows along the River Plym and is situated on the north eastern fringe of the city of Plymouth. It is an important green-lung for the city of Plymouth and a frequent visiting place for over 250,000 people each year who come to enjoy the tranquil surroundings in a busy urban area. Whether to cycle, walk, run, walk the dog or swim in the river, Plymbridge Woods has something for everyone.
The woods are mainly sessile oak with other broad-leaved trees such as beech, sycamore, ash and chestnut. There is a small stand of Douglas Fir, which has produced several majestic specimens. Lots of the oak trees in the past have been coppiced, but generally the management of the woodlands today is left to natural regeneration. Very little planting has been carried out in recent years, in the belief that the natural woodland will provide a more sustainable habitat for the wildlife. In some areas, the trees are “thinned out” in order to allow more light to reach the ground, thereby encouraging a diverse ground flora and permitting the remaining trees to grow larger and stronger with the reduced competition.
Depending on the season the woodland floor can be carpeted with wood anemones, bluebells, primroses, wild garlic or foxgloves. The quarries and cliff faces have an abundant display of interesting ferns, mosses and lichens.
A large herd of fallow deer roam freely in the woods occasionally being spotted disappearing into the undergrowth or maybe grazing in the grassland at the edges of the wood. Other mammals include stoats, weasels, foxes, badgers, water voles, wood mice and common shrews whilst there has been recorded the rare signs of otters on a few occasions. If you visit at dusk you may catch a glimpse of the resident bats.
Frogs and toads, spectacular dragonflies and damselflies can be found dancing around the river, ponds and canal, whilst adders and lizards sometimes bask on the south facing scree slopes. A variety of butterflies can be seen in the grassy meadows and the woodland glades.
Among the birdlife you can spot heron, kingfisher, cormorant and dipper regularly nesting and feeding along the water. Mandarin and mallard ducks raise their young on the waters edge. Woodpeckers, wood warblers, tree pipits and jays frequent the woods whilst buzzards can be seen soaring above the tree tops.
The river Plym flows down from Plym Head beyond Trowlesworthy Warren on Dartmoor and can grow in size from a gentle trickle to a raging torrent after heavy rain, making it a spectacular sight at any time. It is home to salmon, sea trout and eels which can sometimes be spotted when the water is clear.