Cotton grasses take at ground level with wonderful blue sky background

Cotton Grasses - Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Ringdown is a species-rich flush mire, wet grassland and wet woodland reserve on the Blackdown Hills. The water seeping up here flows into the River Culm which is the longest tributary of the River Exe.


Off Wiltown Lane,

OS Map Reference

ST 180 153
A static map of Ringdown

Know before you go

24 hectares

Parking information

No parking provision. There is limited amount of roadside parking adjacent to the reserve entrance at ST 181 154 but please do not block any gateways.

Grazing animals



Contact the Trust for access information.


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 August

About the reserve

There are a number of habitats on this site; species rich flush mire, wet grassland, wet and dry woodland, wood pasture and improved grassland.

The meadows here are very wet all due to the springs which flow with water for most of the year. Consequently plants which thrive in such conditions do well with sedges forming a significant element of the sward including the only known population of Dioecious sedge in Somerset.

In the very wettest areas you can find Sphagnum mosses, known as bog mosses. Cotton Grass, Marsh Pennywort and Bog Asphodel occur frequently while Round-leaved Sundew and Pale Butterwort are also present.

Less wet areas are dominated by Purple Moor Grass and this is where you can find Marsh Violet, Lousewort and Devil's-bit. There are other grassland in the reserve which are much drier. Also in wet areas Carr woodland occurs and these are dominated by Grey Willow and Alder while a large block of secondary woodland covers the south eastern section of the reserve.

In the drier woodlands Pedunculate Oak, Ash and Holly are common. There is also Rowan and Beech. Some of the meadows have a considerable number of trees dotted across them and this mixture of grassland and woodland is known as wood pasture.

Common Hawker and Keeled Skimmer dragonflies are regular in the reserve during summer as are Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and the Silver-washed Fritillary. There is at least one active Badger here sett and Hazel Dormice are thought to be present in the woodland and hedges. Common Lizard, and Grass Snake have all been recorded on the reserve. Snipe and Woodcock are regular winter visitors.

History and Archaeology - The Ringdown Barn is a barn of local historic importance recently repaired by the Trust. In the early 1900’s the Blackdown Hills landscape inspired the London based Camden Group of artists to come and paint the landscape. The steep valleys, flat-topped hills and pattern of hedges and woods providing a great subject, as they experimented with their bold style and blocks of colour. Amongst the bucolic landscape around Applehayes, stood the modest chert-built barn at Ringdown, then part of the Applehayes estate. The painter Robert Bevan in particular used the barn as a subject in several paintings and because so little has changed in the surrounding valley it is possible to see almost exactly where the canvases were painted.

Contact us

Somerset Wildlife Trust
Contact number: 01823 652400

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Ringdown documents