Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Somerset Nature Reserves

Somerset Wildlife Trust protects some of  the county's most threatened habitats and precious species within its nature reserves. They are great places to enjoy and explore the amazing wildlife and landscapes we have on our doorstep. There are many opportunities to get close to nature and see some very special wildlife.

We manage 72 nature reserves across Somerset, which cover an area of 1,720 hectares (roughly equivalent in size to 2,000 football pitches). Some of our nature reserves are very large and link to adjacent sites to create a complex, while others are a cluster of fields or woodlands. Our largest nature reserve that we manage is Yoxter (228 hectares) and the smallest is Wadbury Bat House in East Mendip.

Autumn colours and special wildlife encounters

Autumn can be a brilliant time to watch wildlife and enjoy the autumn colours. There are 72 Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserves to explore, here are some suggestions ­

  • The Bishopswood WildWalk in the Blackdown Hills takes in SWT Bishops Wood Meadows and SWT Jan Hobbs
  • Woodland nature reserves in the Poldens are fantastic at this time of year with views of changing autumn colours along the Polden ridge. Sites such as Great Breach Wood are great for fungi forays and there are superb views from the top of the hill near SWT New Hill and Tannager and SWT Gilling Down.
  • Long Wood in the Mendip Hills (top of Cheddar gorge) is definitely worth a visit and you can enjoy a walk all the way through Black Rock, Velvet Bottom and Ubley Warren too if you are feeling energetic!
  • Wellington Castlefields up above Wellington and near the monument offers spectacular views across Somerset and the rushy pasture still has devil’s bit scaboius and other plants in flower.
  • Kings Castle Wood can be easily accessed from Wells and is worth a visit.
  • Down in the Brue valley (Levels and Moors), Westhay Moor has lots of dragonflies on the wing and the odd hobby still in hot pursuit, feeding up before migration. Catcott tower hide offers excellent ‘bird’s eye’ view down into the Catcott Great Fen and reedbed and lucky visitors might spot an otter or marsh harrier.

Please contact us on 01823 652400 for more information and to get the most from your visit. We welcome your feedback and your wildlife sightings.

Where to visit?

Our nature reserves are maked on the map below or an A-Z list can be found to the left. You can also download our Nature Reserves Guide.


Did you know?

  • In the Mendip area alone, volunteers contributed over 2104 hours of their time to help manage our nature reserves from April 2014-March 2015. 
  • 8755 hours of ‘organised volunteering’ activities took place on our nature reserves across Somerset last year.  This equates to 1167 days!
  • Corporate volunteering has clocked up 937 hours, or 125 days of conservation action.
  • We have around forty grazing contractors and provide employment for many other local contractors.
  • That 55,000 visitors per year visit our Black Rock reserve (Mendips).
  • We provide 1,110 hectares of open access for people to enjoy our oustanding nature reserves.
  • 682 school children got their hands dirty on our nature reserves in the 2012/13 academic year.