Know before you go
Parking informationVery limited road side parking on the unclassified road north of the reserve at ST 263 135. Or park in Bishopswood and then on foot north along the footpath starting at ST 259 127 which will then take you to the southern boundary of the reserve.
Grazing animalsCattle graze the reserve between April and November.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitApril to July
About the reserve
This site comprises two fields and a block of woodland with a complex mixture of habitats and unimproved, semi-improved and improved grassland.
This is a very wet reserve with a series of springs that emerge in various locations, but especially along a spring line near the western margin of the site. The springs have formed a series of runnels with some larger patches of flowing and still water including a pool at the southern boundary of the central field. The river that runs along the eastern border of the reserve is the Blackwater Stream which is a tributary of the River Yarty. Much of the grassland here is very rich botanically. Species occurring include Dyers’s Greenweed, Heath Spotted Orchid, Common Cow-wheat, Bitter Vetch, Meadow Thistle and Burnet Saxifrage. Wild Daffodils can be found early in the year. The wetter areas have some huge and ancient Greater Tussock Sedges, Marsh Horsetail, Water Horsetail, the pink Ragged Robin, Bog Pimpernel, the diminutive Marsh Pennywort, Marsh Violet and Marsh Stitchwort.
There are patches of scrub across the reserve with Gorse, Bracken and lots of brambles, and also clumps of the large, and damp loving, Molinia grass and also Bell Heather.
At the south end of the reserve is a small area of Ancient Woodland known as Milkham Copse. This mainly composed of Hazel coppice with a few occasional Oaks standards and smaller Ash and Alder, which grows well in damp ground. There are also Rowan and the shrub Guelder Rose. The woodland ground flora is rich and dominated in spring by Bluebells and Dog’s Mercury and lots of Ramsons in the lower wetter areas along the stream. These wetter areas also have lots of Pendulous Sedge and Meadowsweet. Other plants found in this woodland include Wood Meadow-grass, Yellow Pimpernell, Wood Speedwell, Wood Anemone and Early Purple Orchids.
Two woodland plants which are very scarce in Somerset also occur here, the small evergreen shrub Spurge Laurel and the parasitic Toothwort which lives on Hazel and can be found at the base of Hazel bushes. Another scarce plant which grows here is a tiny willow called the Creeping Willow, which rarely grows more than six inches tall, and is found only at a couple of other Somerset localities.
Dormice, which often feed on Hazel nuts, seem to have good population in the reserve. Kingfishers has been recorded along the stream, while Snipe and Woodcock occasionally come to feed in the wetter areas of the reserve during the winter period.
Both Adder and Grass Snake occur, probably feeding largely on the strong amphibian population.
The reserve is rich in insect life particularly butterflies including Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Ringlet, Speckled Wood, Small Copper, Common Blue and Silver Washed Fritillary.
Reserve conservation management – Livestock grazing, coppicing of the woodland is carried out on rotation and scrub is controlled to stop it encroaching on the grassland.
History and Archaeology - It appears that the central part of the site may have been used at some time in the past for mineral extraction with a series of banks and depressions, including a constructed gradient up to the opening in the hedgerow between the two fields. Early Ordnance Survey maps show what may be the remains of a circular earthworks in the central portion of the reserve.
This is a wonderful reserve to explore and look out for wet meadow plants that thrive in marshy ground such as Common Valerian, Agrimony, and Greater Bird’s-Foot Trefoil. Some of the lower and even wetter parts of the reserve are dominated by rushes in these areas you will also find Meadowsweet, Devil’s-Bit Scabious, Black Knapweed and Fen Bedstraw. Where the water stands in pools or flows in tiny streams you can find Water Crowfoot, Lesser Spearwort, Fool’s Watercress and the beautiful blue flowered Brooklime.
Jan Hobbs is also close to Mount Fancy Farm Butterfly Conservation Reserve.