Velvet Bottom nature reserve lies on the floor of a dry river valley and is long and narrow in shape. Most of the reserve can be seen from the main path. The 17 hectare (42 acre) reserve is mostly rough grassland with small areas of woodland & scrub. The reserve has a long history of lead mining and there is still much evidence to be found of the site’s industrial 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. The 'velvet bottoms' of these are animals are thought to the source of the reserve's unusual name.
Velvet Bottom has been managed by Somerset Wildlife Trust since 1975 and was purchased from the former owners, Bristol Water, in 1998.It is a valuable Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI.)
43 acres (17.4 ha)
Park at ST482 545 and follow directions on reserve sign or park at ST 502 555 and walk down the footpath to the south west.