Gordano Valley National Nature Reserve
The Gordano Valley NNR, 10 miles to the west of Bristol, offers seclusion, relative remoteness and a wealth of wildlife. The unimproved wet-meadow plant communities include variants of the nationally rare blunt-flowered rush, marsh thistle, soft and sharp flowered rush, marsh bedstraw, purple moor grass, meadow thistle, crested dog’s-tail and common knapweed community types. In total over 130 species of flowering plant have been recorded including three species of orchids, 21 grasses and 14 sedges. The extensive system of rhynes (drainage channels) and field ditches contain three nationally rare species: water parsnip, whorled water milfoil and fen pondweed. Long-eared owls can be spotted during the winter, along with woodcocks. Brown hare, water shrew, harvest mouse and otter are just some of the rare mammals recorded on the NNR. The reserve is also nationally important for its incredibly rich and diverse invertebrate fauna. There are 16 species of dragonflies and damselflies, including the harry dragonfly, variable damselfly and ruddy darter dragonfly, along with 23 recorded species of butterfly, most notably the grizzled skipper and grayling.
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About The area
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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