Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Cheddar Complex

Black Rock

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 pill woodlouse and distinctive long legged harvestman. It is a valuable Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI.)

181 acres (73.3 ha.)

There are footpaths and nature trails from ST 482 545.


Long Wood

Long Wood is Somerset Wildlife Trust’s oldest nature reserve, managed by us since 1969. It is an ancient woodland some of which formed part of the holdings of the Carthusian monks of Witham priory in medieval times. Along the valley path, the humid conditions encourage the growth of moisture loving plants, including opposite-leaved golden saxifrage, and many ferns and mosses. The uncommon herb Paris is found in abundance on the western side of the wood. Most of the wood is semi-natural mainly ash and hazel, but in the early 1950’s much of the wood was clear-felled and replanted with beech and some conifers. In many parts of the wood the native trees have grown again from seed and the cut stumps. Our long term aim is to remove the planted beech and conifers to encourage ash, hazel, sallow and other trees and shrubs that grow naturally on Mendip. It is a valuable Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI.)

47 acres (19.2 ha.)

Access from ST 482 545 up Black Rock Drove, heading north up the West Mendip Way, keeping left at the fork to Velvet Bottom. A circular permissive path and Nature Trail will take you around the wood.


Velvet Bottom

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.