Draycott Sleights trees pond and blue sky Jeff Bevan

Draycott Sleights - Jeff Bevan

Photographers and serious naturalists alike love Draycott Sleights for the rich variety of wildlife and spectacular panoramic views across the Somerset Levels as far as Dorset, Exmoor and South Wales.

Location

Draycott Sleights,
New Road off A371
Draycott
Somerset

OS Map Reference

ST 485 505
A static map of Draycott Sleights

Know before you go

Size
50 hectares

Parking information

No formal car parking. Please park considerately as farm machinery need to pass on the narrow road.

Bicycle parking

There is a cycle route in Rodney Stoke (avoiding the busy A371) but the nearest National Cycle Network route is on the Mendip plateau, two miles east of the nature reserve.

Grazing animals

No

Walking trails

Draycott’s 1.7km circular walk starts at the main entrance of the reserve and is navigated by following the green way-marking posts, and takes in some of the most wonderful panoramic views in the county.

It starts with a flat, stony track (that can get a little slippery in the Winter months), just over half way you will need to drive yourself up a steep climb, to get you to a path that runs along a rock outcrop – take care here as there is an unprotected drop. Once you have made it to the top you will be rewarded with a spectacular view that stretches across the Quantocks, Bristol Channel and Somerset levels.

(Unprotected drops from steep, rocky outcrops. Watch out for site management activities.)

Access

Please contact the Trust for more information.

Dogs

On a lead
Visit the 'Dog walking on reserves' page in the Contact section for more information.

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

April to July

About the reserve

High on the southern slopes of the Mendip Hills, this special place enjoys commanding views towards Exmoor in the west and, to the north, across the Bristol Channel to South Wales. And those are by no means the only breathtaking views on offer. At ground level, some 200 species of plants have been spotted and recorded, on this steep stretch of grassland. They include more than 40 rarities, such as horseshoe vetch, pale flax, spring cinquefoil, autumn gentian, pyramidal and bee orchids – all of which provide splashes of colour to brighten this windswept, rocky landscape.

Throughout June and July, Draycott Sleights comes alive with butterflies that thrive in this kind of limestone downland, such as the Chalkhill Blue, which is best seen in July and August, plus Common and Holly Blues, while the Small Blue is seen in smaller numbers most years. Other butterfly species at the site include the Brown Argus, Grayling and Marbled White.

In the summer, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits are the most commonly seen birds on the open grassland and 
flocks of Linnet and Goldfinches can be seen moving through the scrub during autumn and winter. Buzzards, Kestrels, Peregrine Falcons and Sparrowhawks are among the birds of prey who hunt in the skies above the reserve, which is also home to Little and Tawny owls.

Other residents include Badgers, Foxes, Rabbits, Roe Deer and the occasional Hare, whilst Adders and Slow Worms can sometimes be seen basking on the sundrenched south west facing slopes. It is thanks to the Trust’s stewardship that Draycott Sleights remains as an outstanding example of one of the most vulnerable landscapes in the UK. Species-rich limestone grassland is very fragile and the reserve has been carefully managed by the Trust since it bought the 100 acre site in 1986. ‘Sleight’ is an old Somerset word for sheep pasture and grazing here continues as it has for hundreds of years.

History and Archaeology - Some of the land was ploughed for agriculture, notably during the Second World War, and there is evidence of small-scale quarrying and ochre pits from the early 20th century but very little has changed here for centuries.

Contact us

Somerset Wildlife Trust
Contact number: 01823 652400

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)