Our Mount Fancy Farm Reserve is 27 ha of wet grassland, scrub and woodland plus ancient oaks on the lower slopes of the Blackdown Hills, facing north but open to the sun.
Green–veined White, Orange-tip, Brimstone and Peacock in spring are followed by Large and Small Skippers, Purple Hairstreak, Ringlet, Marbled White, Silver-washed Fritillary and Small Coppers amongst others. In a typical year, around 22 species will be seen.
The site used to hold Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and the presence of Marsh Violet, its foodplant, makes it suitable for recolonization.
Management of the reserve
Located on the lower slopes of the Blackdowns, the site has many small springs, creating rivulets and patches of wet rushy ground that are colonised by willow thickets. Drier ground develops bracken and bramble cover before also turning to scrub and there is some coppiced woodland.
The reserve is grazed by Exmoor ponies and at times by Longhorn cattle. Scrub clearance is undertaken by volunteers.
How to get there
The reserve is south of Taunton at OS reference ST251163. There is no parking at the farm so access is only from the Forestry Commission car park at Staple Hill. Take the B3170 from Taunton, turn left to Castle Neroche and the car park is on your left after about 2 km at OS reference ST 246159. Then walk down the track for 600 m until you reach a junction. Turn right to enter the part of the Reserve which we lease from Wessex Water. Turn left and then enter the gate on your left to access the main part of the reserve.
The Wessex Water land has a good firm path through it. The western part of the site is in two sections separated by a ride. This part of the site has no surfaced paths so as much of the ground is wet and boots are a good idea.
Despite their forbidding appearance and size the Longhorns are placid animals, though you should not get between cows and their calves, and it is wise not to walk too close behind Exmoors as they may kick. Please keep dogs under close control.
Tony & Anna Spiess, Honorary Reserve Wardens