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Dixton Embankment

Dixton Embankment is a flat, limestone grassland embankment notable for its orchids. It was created when the A40 dual carriageway was built, and it is managed by GWT on behalf of the Highways Agency. The reserve crosses the border into Herefordshire, making it the only Gwent Wildlife Trust reserve which is partly in England.

The main habitat at Dixton Embankment is limestone grassland, but there is also some scrub and a small patch of woodland. The management of the site involves a late summer cut of the grassland which promotes a diverse and interesting flora.


The unusual plants include pyramidal orchid, bee orchid, yellow-wort and ploughman's-spikenard. The young woodland, furthest from the entrance, supports a patch of wild daffodils, which make a delicate contrast to the mass planting of richly-coloured cultivated daffodils on the roadside above the reserve. 

The deep pink blooms of the aptly-named pyramidal orchid are a distinctive species of calcareous grasslands. It is pollinated by insects such as skipper butterflies, six-spot burnet moths and buff-tailed bumblebees.

Dixton Embankment supports a rich diversity of insect life. The unusual white-legged damselfly, which flies up to the reserve from the River Wye below, can be seen in abundance. The site is sheltered and attracts many butterflies in early summer, including common blue, marbled white and the dingy skipper. Adders can sometimes be seen basking in the sun.


The reserve is flat grassland which is easily accessible down a short path from the main entrance gate.


From Monmouth take the A40 north to Ross-on-Wye. After 3km leave the dual carriageway at the Ganerew Junction. Follow this road back over the dual carriageway bridge and rejoin the southbound A40. After just over 1km, turn left onto a small slip road (just before the A40 goes under a bridge) and park at the reserve entrance gate, taking care not to block the other gate (grid ref: SO 527 149). Take care, especially when leaving the reserve to rejoin the carriageway, because traffic on the dual carriageway can be very fast.

The reserve can also be reached on foot by taking the footpath marked 'Wye Valley Walk' along the west bank of the river Wye from the Wye Bridge in Monmouth. Walk north for 1.5km and the reserve lies on the bank above the Wye Valley Walk, up a steep flight of steps.

Nearby reserves

Wyeswood Common and Pentwyn Farm reserves are located south of Monmouth.

What to see around the reserve

The Wye Valley Walk runs past the reserve. This passes through a number of places of interest in the Wye Valley AONB including Severn Sisters Rocks and Symonds Yat. The historical town of Monmouth boasts The Castle and Regimental Museum, The Nelson Garden, Shire Hall and the fortified Medieval bridge over the river Monnow. 

Species and habitats

Bee Orchid, Yellow-wort, Wild Daffodil, Common Blue, Marbled White, Adder

Nearby nature reserves

King Arthur's Cave
1 miles - Herefordshire Wildlife Trust
Lord's Wood Quarry
1 miles - Herefordshire Wildlife Trust
Leeping Stocks
2 miles - Herefordshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Map reference
SO 527 149
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Opening Times
Open at all times
1.50 hectares
Living Landscape schemes
Usk to Wye Living Landscape

Walking information
The reserve is flat grassland which is easily accessible down a short path from the main entrance gate.
Limited parking off the A40.
Dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Gwent Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01600 740600