This reserve is an interesting mixture of woodland, grassland and other open habitats on the Blackdowns ridge. It has magnificent views over South Somerset.
These old meadows and rough pasture, full of wildflowers and insects, and surrounded by veteran oaks, are set in the extensive woodland habitats of the Neroche Forest. Coppice, wood-pasture and marshy grassland are the broad range of habitats present, maintained by the grazing of Exmoor Ponies.
The reserve is part of a large Site of Special Scientific Interest, and is leased from the Forestry Commission. The Commission has been leading a major landscape project covering their forest on the Blackdowns Ridge and has created extensive new areas of open wildlife habitats linked with our reserve and other important butterfly sites. For more details see the Neroche Scheme website.
Area: 13 hectares
The reserve comprises two sections - the eastern Mount Fancy Farm half and the western Shutes Farm half. Entrances to each area are from the lanes that lead to these farms from Staple Fitzpaine and end as gated tracks. There is only very limited lane verge parking near these entrances and it is best to park in the Forestry Commission Staple Hill Car Park at map reference ST 246 159 from where there are pleasant 5–10 minute walks with fine views down paths through the forest to the reserve entrances.
Map Reference: ST 250 164 Ordnance Survey Map: 193
Notable nearby sites
Buckland Wood (‘Quants’) BC managed Forestry Commission site; Yarty Moor Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve.
Site access and safety
The reserve is open at all times and crossed by footpaths. Currently access is only via stiles and a step-over gateway but is being improved. Soft ground (and locally very muddy after rain), and fallen wood or other tripping hazards will be encountered in most parts of the reserve.
Please do not attempt to approach or feed the Exmoor ponies - they are working animals and can be upset by dogs so please keep those on leads and under control. Ticks and adders are present on site. In strong winds please keep clear of the veteran trees.
John Davis - tel 01929 400209