Cheddar Wood Edge
Know before you go
Parking informationNo formal car park. Probably best to park in Axbridge and then on foot to footpaths starting at ST 442 546 and ST 444 546 off of the A371.
Bicycle parkingNational Cycle Network Route 26 'The Strawberry Line' is close-by linking this northwards to Yatton and Clevedon.
Grazing animalsThe grassland compartments are grazed with sheep from April to October.
Paths can be steep and rocky and very slippery when wet.
Contact the Trust for more information.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitApril to July
About the reserve
With the coming of the Cheddar Valley railway and prior to the Second World War, several areas of woodland next to Wood Lane and Parsonage Lane were grubbed out to form strawberry fields with the produce being shipped out via the railway. Since being abandoned for growing strawberries, several have reverted to woodland while others are now being managed as grassland.
Grass species in the fields are numerous including False Oat-grass Sheep’s Fescue, Red Fescue, Yellow Oat-grass and Sweet Vernal Grass Herbs include Common Knapweed, Marjoram, Common Centaury, Field Scabious, Yellow-Wort and Meadow Vetchling.
Two Red Data Book species, the nationally rare Purple Gromwell and Starved Wood-sedge occur along the trackway leading to these fields and also on the wood edge.
Wood Lane Fields contain a greater proportion of Perennial Ryegrass and Timothy Grass. The lower Wood Lane field is extensively scrubbed over and not included within the SSSI. Lovell’s Field 4 is also excluded from the SSSI as the sward is semi-improved and the wood edge is impoverished having been shaded by Holm Oak.
Lovell’s Field 5 is a series of small old fields some of which have been heavily invaded by scrub consisting of Hawthorn, Hazel, Ash, Blackthorn, Pendunculate Oak, Field Maple and brambles. These fields are an important component of the SSSI as they provide structurally diverse vegetation including scrub and wood edge that is rarely found inside the wood itself.
These fields provide useful nectaring areas for the woodland edge butterflies, hoverflies and other insects as well as providing habitat for numerous other invertebrate species that favour more open sites. Great Green Bush-cricket has been recorded here.
Reserve conservation management – Scrub control. Removal of non-native Holm Oak.
History and Archaeology - In the 19th century, demand for Cheddar strawberries from growing cities such as Birmingham and London became so great that a railway was built from the Yatton to Cheddar to link the village to Brunel’s mainline. It became known as ‘The Strawberry Line’. The line closed in 1964, but it has recently been transformed into a popular cycle path 'Route 26' which is part of the National Cycle Network.