Know before you go
Parking informationLimited parking on roadside at ST 104 213 which is next to the entrance into the reserve. Please be sure not to block any gateways.
Grazing animalsCattle grazing from May to October.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitApril to July
About the reserve
Rewe Mead sits on the banks of the River Tone and also has remnants of the Grand Western Canal running through its heart. The primary interest on the reserve is the wonderfully species-rich wet-grassland. An almost bewildering display of wetland plants is found here include Amphibious Bistort, Bog Stitchwort, Brooklime, Reedmace, Fen Bedstraw, Floating Sweet-grass, Fool's-Water-Cress, Great Willowherb, Greater Bird's-Foot-Trefoil, Greater Pond-Sedge, Hemlock Water-Dropwort, Lesser Water-Parsnip, Marsh Horsetail, Marsh Thistle, Marsh Willowherb, Marsh-Bedstraw, Marsh-Marigold, Meadowsweet and Purple-Loosestrife.
These very damp meadows are also home to Ragged Robin, Reed Canary-Grass, Southern Marsh-Orchid, Square-Stalked St John's-Wort, Water Figwort, Water Forget-Me-Not, Water Horsetail, Water Mint, Wild Angelica, Yellow Iris and Yellow Loosestrife.
The old canal provides ideal conditions for large numbers of breeding Common Frogs and Common Toads, as well as all three species of British newt, Palmate, Smooth and Great Crested and Brook Lampreys gather to spawn in the River Tone. There is also a really remarkable number of dragonflies that call this reserve home with Beautiful Demoiselles particularly plentiful beside the River Tone and Downy Emerald, Large Red Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Southern Hawker, Black Tailed Skimmer, Emperor Dragonfly, Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Ruddy Darter and the Common Darter occurring across the reserve.
The wet meadow attracts Grey Wagtails, and Kingfishers, Dippers, and Herons can often be seen along the river itself. Otters also regularly use the river. There is wet woodland along part of the old canal and riverside woodland lines the River Tone. The majority of trees are Alder and Sallow which is also known as Pussy Willow.
Reserve conservation management – Some mechanical cutting to control ranker vegetation. Rotational cutting of scrub to maintain it but not allow it to spread and reduce grassland.
History and Archaeology - A section of the Grand Western Canal was constructed through Rewe Mead in the 19th century.
The Grand Western Canal ran between Taunton in Somerset and Tiverton in Devon. The canal had its origins in various plans, going back to 1796, to link the Bristol Channel and the English Channel by a canal, bypassing Lands End.
Construction was in two phases. A level section from Tiverton to Lowdwells on the Devon/Somerset border, opened in 1814, and was capable of carrying broad-beam barges, carrying up to 40 tons. The Somerset section, suitable for tub-boats, which were about 20 feet (6.1 m) long and capable of carrying eight tons, opened in 1839. It included an inclined plane and seven boat lifts, the earliest lifts to see commercial service in the UK. Unfortunately, for the canal, only a few years after it was completed and in use, railways started to offer a much quicker way to transport goods and the canal companies lost much of their business and income. Eventually the Somerset section of the canal was closed in 1867. The lifts were dismantled, and most of the route sold back to the original landowners.