Dodnor Dicksons

Dodnor Creek & Dickson’s Copse Local Nature Reserve

Adjoining the Medina Estuary this reserve contains an interesting array of habitats and is particularly important for migratory birds who feed on the rich estuary mud. The site is easily accessible by bike and on foot and is linked via an attractive circular walk with our nearby Medina Riverside site.

Dodnor Creek Local Nature Reserve (LNR) consists of two distinct habitats — Dodnor Creek and Dicksons Copse. It is highly designated with Ramsar, SSSI and SINC designations, as well as being adjacent to an SPA and SAC. It is particularly important as a high roost for wading birds in the winter. Dickson’s Copse is listed in the Island’s Ancient Woodland Inventory.

What to look and listen for…

Dodnor Creek

The old millpond, fringed by willow scrub and reed beds, is home to many species of bird. Mallard, coot and swans are regularly seen nesting there. Swallows and swifts swoop and soar over the water catching insects in midsummer. Listen for chiff chaffs and willow warblers in the reeds. In the autumn and winter, the squeaky call of the water rail can be heard in the reedbeds, and if you are lucky you will see the flash of azure wings as kingfishers dart over the creek. On the causeway listen to the squabbling seagulls and ducks.

Dicksons Copse

The copse is located on the eastern side of the nature reserve and is typically made up of ash, oak, field maple with a rich understorey of more shrubby trees including of hazel, spindle and crab apple. In spring, flowers such as primroses, bugle and narrow leaved lungwort are found on the woodland floor. In summer, white water lilies make a fine show on the pond and there are speckled wood butterflies in the glades. Part of Dicksons Copse is ancient woodland and contains 28 species of plants which help us identify it as such. These include the nationally rare narrow-leaved lungwort and the soft-shield and polypody ferns. The woodland supports a wide variety of mammals including red squirrels dormice and bats. At the heart of the copse is the pond which has a spectacular colony of white water lilies, best seen in flower during June. Many dragonfly and damselfly species have been recorded here – they make a noise like a football rattle. Also listen for the woodpeckers.

The Isle of Wight Natural History and Archaeological Society have surveyed the Dickson’s Copse for us for fungi and gall leafminers in 2017 and again in autumn 2018. They found a number of species new to the site this year.

Our Dodnor ReDiscovered Project has enabled us to upgrade the paths around the Local Nature Reserve. Thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund and Tesco’s Bags of Help for this.

More details on the Nature Reserve .

Dodnor Historic Cement Kilns

Our Dodnor ReDiscovered project has enabled us to conserve and enhance the historic cement kilns at Dodnor locally known as “the Mummies’ Caves” or “Found Out”. There is so much to tell you about these that you need to read the accompanying web-pages

West Medina Mills | Cement Kilns | Railway | Cement Mill Stories 

and unfortunately, due to the condition that they are now in, they cannot be open to the public. However we do occasional walks, and James Heald who is employed in the neighbouring factory, has made this wonderful drone footage.

We have to given many, many thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund for enabling this project to happen. But thanks also to Tesco’s Bags of Help, Vestas Blade and Isle of Wight Council.

… and smell and touch

This is quite a whiffy site – the neighbouring anaerobic digester competes with the seaweed in the estuary! The stinky iris throughout Dickson’s Copse smells of roast beef.

There’s lots to and touch feel. The blade sculpture at the entrance, In the woodland damp lichen, the sharp leaves of butcher’s broom. Our manmade acorns, but also nuts nibbled by squirrels and dormice. The industrial remains.

Nature at home and activities on site

We have produced a super Colouring Sheet for you to download and complete at home. We have also produced an I Spy Sheet and Map for you to print at home, or download to your phone and take to the site. And become a Bug Bunch Ranger. All these activities and resources can be found here.

Managing the Site

This Nature Reserve is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Dodnor Creek is a wetland of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention. Dickson’s Copse is an Ancient Woodland. The Cement Kilns are locally listed.  Therefore the whole site requires very sensitive management.

We coppice the willow in the wet woodland around Dodnor along the boundary of the woodland and the creek on a rotational basis. This is partly dependent upon a dry autumn to gain access. We also coppice within the Ancient Woodland to maintain a mix of height and types of vegetation.

We try to maintain a vegetation free buffer around the kilns, and prevent additional scrub and tree growth on the structures.

How to get there

On foot and by bike The Red Squirrel Trail (NCN 23) goes right over the site on a former railway viaduct Access into the site is from the footpath leading from the north side of the viaduct down to the riverside path. The blade sculpture is cycle parking or you can secure your bike to the fencing.

By bus – Stag Inn Stop (Route 1) + 20 min walk. (Bus Timetables)

By Car – There is no road access to the site or car park. Limited on street parking is available at Stag Lane near the junction with the cycle track where the approximate code for your sat nav is PO30 5TR or what3words ///hindering.imprints.fevered.  Alternatively, park at Medina Riverside and walk from there.

what3words for site entrance ///


There is a circular path round the site, accessed through a  kissing gate. There is an Information Pillar and interpretation board at this point. The site Information Pillar has a QR code that links to an audible description creating a mind’s eye view of the area to allow a visually impaired person to enter with confidence. The information pillar also has a QR code that links to a map and activities. There is also a site map on the Information Pillar.

In places it is narrow and it can be wet and muddy so strong boots or shoes are recommended for walking round it. It is unlikely to be suitable for wheelchairs, but some buggies possibly can navigate. There are also a few steps. The cycle-track provides a good vantage point for bird watching and is level and well surfaced. There is an informal log seat by the pond within Dickson’s Copse.

We have written an Access Statement for this site. This includes mobility and sensory issues and opportunities. We welcome feedback from users.

We have produced an audible description creating a mind’s eye view of the area to allow a visually impaired person to enter with confidence. It will describe the entrance, the size of the area, where to find further information or help and any major obstacles or features. Information has been produced by visually impaired people ensuring it is useful and accurate. Access the description by scanning the QR code to the left of this text on your phone or tablet, or by clicking here.

Get Involved

There are various ways you can help improve and maintain our sites. We rely on volunteers to help with many tasks on our sites and also need people who are happy to regular visit the site be our “eyes and ears”, this means we can respond much quicker to issues. Our shop raises money to support our work and needs a team of volunteers. Or maybe you would like to help us with events. Find out more here.

You can also help by becoming one of our regular supporters. Even giving a few pounds each month can make a real difference, with your donation being invested into site management and improvement work to benefit site visitors and look after our precious wildlife. Sign up here.