Barrington Hill National Nature Reserve



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Barrington Hill NNR is made up of four meadows of unimproved, species-rich neutral grassland, a habitat rarely found in England. In spring, green-winged orchid are particularly plentiful throughout the meadows, and other orchids regularly recorded include the early purple, common twayblade and common spotted varieties. The site is also particularly notable for its abundance of rare French oat-grass, a nationally rare plant and major constituent of the grassland. The hedgerows, which include some large oak trees, are also home to a wide range of birds, small mammals and insects. Butterflies found on the reserve include common blue, meadow brown, speckled wood, brimstone and orange tip. To maintain the grassland, a late hay cut is taken from each field in July or August. The aftermath growth is then grazed by herds of cattle and/or sheep. Hedgerows are left to grow uncut for a few years to provide habitat for small mammals and birds.

Barrington Hill National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Somerset

Somerset means ‘summer pastures’ – appropriate given that so much of this county remains rural and unspoiled. Ever popular areas to visit are the limestone and red sandstone Mendip Hills rising to over 1,000 feet, and by complete contrast, to the south and southwest, the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels. Descend to the Somerset Levels, an evocative lowland landscape that was the setting for the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685. In the depths of winter this is a desolate place and famously prone to extensive flooding. There is also a palpable sense of the distant past among these fields and scattered communities. It is claimed that Alfred the Great retreated here after his defeat by the Danes.

Away from the flat country are the Quantocks, once the haunt of poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The Quantocks are noted for their gentle slopes, heather-covered moorland expanses and red deer. From the summit, the Bristol Channel is visible where it meets the Severn Estuary. So much of this hilly landscape has a timeless quality about it and large areas have hardly changed since Coleridge and Wordsworth’s day.

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