What to See
Plants and flowers
Hollow Marsh Meadow nature reserve is bursting with the colours of the rainbow in early summer. Dyers green weed, with small, pretty yellow flowers, mingles with black knap weed with its black stems and bright pink thistle-like heads and pignut, a largish flower-head made up of lots of small white florets.
In the summer look out for the rich variety of herbs like the low scrambling yellow flowers of Lady’s Bedstraw, pink Betony and the pretty mauve flowers of Devil’s-Bit Scabious. See the unsusual flowers of Lady’s Mantle, which have no petals, appearing in cabbage like clusters above the foliage in late spring and summer.
Common and Heath spotted orchids and Broad-leaved Helleborine may also be seen here.
Birds and butterflies
Snipe are winter visitors to the damp fields, and in summer the hedges and woodland are home to small birds including Yellowhammer, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Song thrush.
Listen for the Skylarks which can be heard singing overhead and see the Swallows feeding over the hay meadows in summer.
Raptors, including Kestrel and Buzzard, are regular visitors throughout the year.
The flowers of spring and summer attract a lovely variety of butterflies including Silver Washed Fritillary, Dingy and Small Skipper, Small Copper, Marbled White and Meadow Brown.
Roe deer are often spotted on the reserve which is also home to short-tailed field vole and Dormice. In summer bats may also be glimpsed hunting over the reserve at dusk.
Hollow Marsh Meadow nature reserve is situated on the flood plain of a valley formed by a tributary of the Cam Brook, which runs through part of the reserve. It is made up of grassland and woodland.
The Hollow Marsh meadow has traditionally been summer grazed by a small number of cattle or ponies. The Long Dole meadow is cut for hay in late summer followed by aftermath grazing. The hay cut takes places at the end of July so be sure to visit before then. Please stick to the paths to avoid damaging the hay.
The stream that flows through the meadow is edged with lush flora, including abundant Hemlock, Water Dropwort, Fool’s Water-cress and Brooklime. Cuckoo flower, Meadowsweet and Marsh Valerian also enjoy the river-bank where dragon and damsel-flies duck and dive to catch their food.
The ancient woodland of Long Dole Wood is dominated by Oak and Ash, with Hazel, Holly, Field Maple, Wych Elm, Spindle, Crab apple and large Hornbeam coppice stools. In spring Bluebells, Wood Anemone and Violets carpet the woodland floor. Later in the summer look for the prettily named Enchanter’s nightshade.
Long Dole Wood nature reserve is semi-natural woodland that appears to have been regularly coppiced in the past. Because of the lack of veteran trees, the area may have been clear-felled at some time in the 19th Century.
The reserve forms the main part of Long Dole Wood and Meadow SSSI in Somerset.
19.64 acres (7.931 ha) [10.13 acres (4.081 ha) pasture, 9.51 acres (3.85 ha) wood
Health & Safety: Ponies present May to October; areas of unmanaged woodland; streams can flood in bad weather; low-hanging tree branches; watch out for site management activities.
Location & Access
There is a small area at the end of Pitway Lane where the parking of two or three vehicles is possible although the lane is very pot-holed and probably suitable only for four wheel drive vehicles. From the parking area a public footpath leads to the reserve.
Hollow Marsh Meadow nature reserve is open access. Two footpaths cross the reserve leading to Hinton Blewett and Chewton Wood. Pitway Lane leads 2Km East to Farrrington Gurney and Hollow Marsh Lane leads 1.5Km South-West to Litton. Please stick to the paths to avoid damaging the hay.
How to get there:
The reserve is 2km to the west of Farrington Gurney at the eastern end of the Mendip Hills, within the parishes of Hinton Blewett and Litton.
Grid Reference: ST 615 559.
Click the following link for a full list of Somerset wildlife events