Dunkery & Horner Woods National Nature Reserve



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One of the largest NNRs in England, Dunkery and Horner Wood has a variety of habitats: high moorland with internationally important wet and dry heathland; steeply sloping combe sides with grassland and bracken, and ancient woodland. Over 300 red deer live on the National Trust’s Holnicote Estate, and you can often see them on Ley Hill above Porlock, and around the edges of Horner Wood. Exmoor ponies help to maintain the moorland habitat by acting like lawn mowers, keeping the grass short and eating scrub. The ancient trees and fallen timber of Horner Wood provide a home to a total of 330 species of lichen. Holnicote is the national stronghold of the heath fritillary butterfly, one of the rarest butterflies in Britain, and another notable rarity found here is the high brown fritillary. A total of 15 out of the UK total of 17 different species of bat live at Holnicote, including the lesser horseshoe and Barbastelle bats.

Dunkery & Horner Woods National Nature Reserve
Phone : 01823 451587


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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