West Coker Fen
Know before you go
Parking informationNo car park. There is limited roadside parking on the unclassified road between East Chinnock and Odcombe at ST 503 138 and then east along the public footpath into the reserve.
Grazing animalsCattle between April and October.
Stiles, unsurfaced paths, very wet in places.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitApril to August
About the reserve
If you visit West Coker Fen in early summer it can feel like you have stepped back in time. These flower rich damp pastures are a remnant of an older landscape, when farming was far less intensive. The reserve consists of three fields on gently sloping land that are bordered by two streams. Areas of very wet ground, known as mire, or fen occur along the margins of the watercourses and there is a small pond near the northern tip of the reserve. Deciduous hedgerows border the fields, and the streams are lined by Willow and Alder scrub. All across the reserve you will find a wonderful array of wetland plants like Greater Pond Sedge, Lesser Pond Sedge, Greater Tussock Sedge, Southern Marsh Orchid, Fen Bedstraw, Marsh Valerian, Greater Birds Foot Trefoil, Marsh Marigold, Ragged Robin and Meadowsweet.
Drier parts of the reserve have lots of Devils-Bit Scabious, Common Spotted Orchid, Pepper Saxifrage, Meadow Vetchling, Yarrow and Rough Hawkbit.
Water Voles occur along the streams and both species of Pipistrelle bats have been recorded. The patches of scrub and thick hedgerows have Dormice living in them.
Reed Bunting and Skylarks can be seen all year and also breed in the reserve and Grasshopper Warblers regularly turn up in summer. Snipe and Woodcock visit in winter to probe and feed in the boggy ground.
Amongst the butterflies you can see here are Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Small Copper, Common Blue, Marbled White, Meadow Brown and Ringlet.
Reserve conservation management – Livestock grazing and rotational cutting of the fen. The main management aims are to maintain and enhance the plant and invertebrate diversity of the fen, wet pasture, drier grassland watercourses and pond and maintain the wood and scrub habitats for nesting birds and invertebrates.