Right in the west of Somerset and on the edge of the Exmoor National Park, Haddon Moor holds 5 ha of damp acid grassland sloping gently to a small stream.
Dominated by Purple Moor-grass and with patches of willow scrub, it holds a population of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, which are on the wing in late May and into June. Sixteen species were recorded in 2018, including Green Hairstreaks, Orange-tips, Green-veined Whites, Large and Small Skippers, Marbled White, Meadow Brown and Ringlet.
It also has a splendid flora. As well as the Marsh Violets that are the larval foodplant of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries there are Heath Spotted-orchids, Southern Marsh-orchids, big patches of Bog Asphodel and the very uncommon Pale Butterwort, an insectivorous plant.
Management of the reserve
During the summer months and into autumn Exmoor ponies graze the site. Even so, the Moor-grass develops big tussocks largely composed of unpalatable dead leaves and these need to be burned off at times to allow the violets to thrive; this work is kindly carried out for us under the supervision of the Exmoor National Park team and only small areas are burned at any one time. As well as maintaining the conditions required by the flora and the dependent butterflies it produces a springtime flush of palatable grass for the ponies.
Haddon Moor has much other interest as well as flowers and butterflies. Moths, dragonflies such as the golden-ringed dragonfly, bees and breeding birds all add to the interest and wildlife value of the site.
How to get there
The reserve is located close to Wimbleball Lake at OS reference SS996290.
Access is by a gate on the north side of the B3190 where it passes through the village of Upton. The gateway is set back in the roadside hedge and easy to miss unless you drive slowly. The gate can be opened to enable you to pull your car off the road but first ensure that the inner gate is closed so that the ponies cannot get out past you. Please keep dogs under close control.
Charlotte Wray, Honorary Reserve Warden