Prescombe Down National Nature Reserve
WEST END, WILTSHIRE
Prescombe Down NNR is a botanically rich downland site consisting of a deep valley (or coombe) system eroded into the chalk. The reserve is best known for its species-rich chalk grassland and resident population of the iconic Wiltshire chalk downland butterfly, the Adonis blue. Other rare butterflies include the marsh fritillary, the grizzled skipper and downland birds such as the skylark. Early in spring, Prescombe Down is one of the few places where the rare purple early gentian can be seen in large numbers. Later in the summer the yellows of horseshoe vetch, rock rose, bird’s foot trefoil and kidney vetch cover whole areas of the hillside, interrupted by the occasional orchid. The dark purples of devil’s bit scabious emerge later in summer. In most years, the Adonis blue butterfly is seen twice, first in June and again in August. This butterfly can only survive in areas where horseshoe vetch grows in short grassland.
Also in the Area
About The area
A land shrouded in mystery, myth and legend, Wiltshire evokes images of ancient stone circles, white chalk horses carved into hillsides, crop circles and the forbidden, empty landscape of Salisbury Plain. To many M4 and A303 drivers heading out of London through the clutter of the Thames Valley, Wiltshire is where the landscape opens out and rural England begins.
Wiltshire’s charm lies in the beauty of its countryside. The expansive chalk landscapes of the Marlborough and Pewsey downs and Cranborne Chase inspire a sense of space and freedom, offering miles of uninterrupted views deep into Dorset, Somerset and the Cotswolds. Wiltshire’s thriving market towns and picturesque villages provide worthwhile visits and welcome diversions. Stroll through quaint timbered and thatched villages in the southern Woodford and Avon valleys and explore the historic streets of the stone villages of Lacock, Castle Combe and Sherston. Walk around Salisbury and discover architectural styles from the 13th century to the present and take time to visit the city’s elegant cathedral and fascinating museums. And if all of that isn’t enough, the county is also richly endowed with manor houses, mansions and beautiful gardens.
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