What to See
Plants and flowers
You can see more than 90 different flowering plants at Edford Meadow nature reserve, renowned for the sheer variety of orchids including common spotted, green winged, heath spotted, and southern marsh orchid, which are at their best in June.
The sympathetic management of these hay meadows, over many years, has allowed a vast array of beautiful plants and flowers to survive and flourish here. Yarrow, black knapweed, pignut, corky-fruited water dropwort, ox-eye daisy, cowslip, common milkwort and saw-wort are just a few to look out for here so don’t forget your ID books.
The hay cut takes place at the end of July so be sure to visit before then and please do stick to paths to avoid damaging the hay.
Because these meadows are relatively untouched they are also home to rare fungi like wax caps. These brightly coloured fungi like fields that have not had much fertiliser added and may be seen from October to December.
Birds and butterflies
In summer you’ll see many butterflies, attracted by the flowers for nectaring and breeding, including common blue, marbled white, small and large skippers.
Skylarks can be heard singing overhead and swallows seen feeding over the hay meadows.
The damp grasslands of the nature reserve attract well camouflaged snipe, and woodcock have been spotted in the damp woodland and ditches during the winter months.
The hedges and scrub provide an important habitat for nesting and foraging farmland birds such as goldfinches, bullfinches and linnets.
Edford Meadows is made up of a number of fields of species-rich, dry, neutral, unimproved grassland, which are alive with wildflowers in the summer. Remains of the abandoned and unfinished Dorset & Somerset Canal can be seen from the south-facing slopes.
The underlying strata are the Coal Measures of the Upper Carboniferous Period, and the clay-rich soils have developed from the shales on which the reserve is located.
The reserve is managed traditionally, allowing the plant species to flourish before the hay cut in late summer. Cattle graze the meadow that is covered in ant hills, then graze the hay meadows that make up the rest of the reserve.
Some of the fields are part of the Edford Woods and Meadows SSSI, and the whole site forms a key part of the Trust’s Mendip Hills Living Landscape.
Health & Safety: Steep areas may be slippery in bad weather; some areas prone to flooding; watch out for site management activities.
Location & Access
How to get there
The nature reserve is in the parish of Coleford, 1km south east of Holcombe, Somerset.
Grid reference: ST 674 488
Parking: Roadside parking at 677487 on Ham Hill. Follow public footpath sign west from roadside to reserve.
Footpaths: Please use the two public footpaths that cross the reserve leading from Edford to Ham to protect the hay crop.
Click the following link for a full list of Somerset wildlife events