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What to See
At Velvet Bottom keep your eyes peeled for the archaeological footprints left behind by lead mining and the plants that grow in the lead spoil such as sandwort and alpine pennycress. Adder, common lizard, slow worm and grass snakes may be seen basking in the summer sun.
Long Wood is the most stunning ancient bluebell wood in the Cheddar complex. An easy walking trail will take you through spectacular displays of bluebells and the trail is dotted with other woodland flowers including orchids, wood anemone and yellow archangel, with the pervasive scent of wild garlic in the air in the spring.
Members of the tit family are the birds you’re most likely to see here, but both green and greater spotted woodpeckers and buzzards are often heard. Look out for the ‘badger gates’ in the walls which allow the badgers to move around and follow their tracks around the reserve. A stream runs through the north of the reserve before disappearing underground into the main cave, Long Wood swallet. Alongside the Mendip Way, as it begins to climb towards Tynings Farm, the flowers on the ‘orchid slope’ are visited by many insects, including marbled white and meadow brown butterflies.
At the top of Black Rock enjoy views across Mendip’s spectacular Cheddar Gorge and look out for redstarts on their summer migration. Peregrine falcons breed locally and can be spotted hunting over the reserve. Greater and lesser horseshoe bats may be glanced hunting at dusk and there are important butterflies including dark green fritillary, dingy skipper and green hairstreak. Dormice can be found in the coppice woodland using the nest boxes we attach to trees, along with yellow-necked mice and pygmy shrew.
For many centuries Velvet Bottom was mined for lead and is now rough grassland, with areas of woodland and shrubs. Here you can see the scars of Mendip’s lead-mining heritage: Look out for the circular depressions that are the remains of buddle pits where the lead ore was washed. Dam walls at the west end enclose the flat settling beds which are high in lead content. Re-smelting resulted in heaps of black, shiny slag which can still be seen. Shrubs grow where the soils are relatively free of lead. In the valley floor rabbits create short turf, ideal for typical limestone flowers.
Between November and January tree felling and processing work will be taking place in Black Rock nature reserve. Please take extra care during this period and obey any safety signs on site as large machinery will be operating close to the paths. Please keep dogs under close control.
Black Rock is made up of woodland, limestone grassland and conifers which we are replacing with broadleaf trees. Over 30 species per square metre have been recorded on the limestone grassland, including the nationally scarce spring cinquefoil. The bare limestone rock outcrops, cliffs and screes support important plants including the nationally scarce angular Solomon’s-seal, limestone fern, rock stonecrop and Cheddar bedstraw. The nationally scarce large chrysalis snail and ash-black slug can be found here, along with slug pill woodlouse and distinctive long legged harvestman. It is a valuable Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI.)
Please take care when visiting Black Rock - here are some things to look out for:
181 acres (73.3 ha.)
Join Les Cloutman & Lepidoptera expert Peter Smith for a gentle walk and look for Butterflies & Moths at Priddy Mineries, one of the best places on Mendip to see rare butterflies & day flying moths
On the 2nd and 3rd August there will be a pop up visitors centre at Black Rock nature reserve. You will be able to meet Somerset Wildlife Trust staff and find out about the reserve and others in the county. Members of the Save Our Magnificent Meadows team will also be there to help you explore the meadows on the reserve.
A walk along the Strawberry line to look for Glow-worms
Chris Billinghurst, the reserve warden, will lead a walk through Long Wood looking at the Cheddar Flood Relief Scheme & the wildlife of the area. Chris will explain how the caves saved Cheddar.
Kate Lawrence will lead a walk around the Trust's own organic farm showing us the diversity of habitat, plants invertebrates, birds and wildlife as well as explaining some of the geological features of this area
A morning stroll with local bird recorder Nigel Milbourne, a good time to see migrant waders & large numbers of ducks at Blagdon village & walk.
Fungus Foray led by Michael Jordan one of the country's leading experts on fungi, who will help you find & identify the fungi in the woods. Numbers limited, booking & payment must be made in advance for this event. For information or to make a booking please telephone 01749 673563
Click the following link for a full list of Somerset wildlife events
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