Ownership: ARC

Designation: SSSI, SAC, SPA, Ramsar

Restrictions: Open Access Land, please keep dogs on a lead

Access: Lions Hill Way

Grid ref: SU 10639 03947

The Reserve

Lions Hill is located in the east of Dorset and it’s 42 hectares of heath are separated into three distinct blocks each with their own varying habitats. The southern block is the largest of the three with equal amounts of dry and wet heath. Sand lizards were successfully introduced into this area in 1998 and have spread across the reserve. The southern block is also extremely good for silver studded blue butterflies. The central block is split from the southern by Lions Hill Way; the habitat of this area is mainly dry heath with coniferous woodland on the western edge of the reserve, the wood from which the site takes it’s name. The northern block is separated from the central by the Public Right of Way, the Castleman Trailway with the area formed mainly of wet heath and acid bog. The site as a whole holds all six native species of reptile. Other notable species of interest include a healthy population of Dartford warblers, and wood crickets (Nemobius sylvestris) are abundant across the reserve.

A Little History

Lions Hill was purchased in 1998 by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation with the aid of a National Lottery grant. Lions Hill enclosure is ring-work bank and ditch surmounting Lions Hill. Its origin is quite obscure with theories for its use ranging from an animal stockade to the banks being firebreaks to protect the lodge pole pines growing within, which would have been grown as sailing ship masts. Lions Hill wood itself was used as a decoy during World War II (further details to follow).

Species you might spot:


Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis)  

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara) 

Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis) 

Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) 

Smooth Snake (Coronella austriaca)

Adder (Vipera berus) 


Common Toad (Bufo bufo) 

Common Frog (Rana temporaria) 


Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata)

Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)

Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

Hobby (Falco subbutteo)


Silver Studded Blue (Plebejus argus)

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

Grayling (Hipparchia semele)


Southern Hawker (Aeshna cynea)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva)

This is by no means a comprehensive list of species on the reserve.