Hawkcombe Woods National Nature Reserve

LOCATION

WEST PORLOCK, SOMERSET

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Our View

The clean, moist air and steep, sheltered valley of Hawkcombe Woods NNR south of Porlock make these woodlands particularly rich in wildlife and a good habitat for a wide range of mosses and lichens. Hawkcombe Woods comprises nine woodlands: Colescombe Wood, Homebush Wood, East Lucott, Bury Castle and West Lucott, Bromham Wood, Shillet Wood, Hawkcombe valley bottom and James’ Barrow. Hawkcombe Woods is made up of mostly sessile oak trees with smaller amounts of ash, beech, birch and hazel. The main reason for its designation as an NNR was the rare lichens and ferns, such as the Wilson’s filmy fern, that thrive in the moist, clean air of the valley, in addition to the large populations of bird and butterfly species. Among the rare or uncommon bird life found at Hawkcombe Woods are summer visiting migrants such as pied flycatchers and redstarts. The reserve is owned and managed by the Exmoor National Park Authority.

Hawkcombe Woods National Nature Reserve
West Porlock

Features

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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