Rodney Stoke National Nature Reserve



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Rodney Stoke NNR is an ash/lime woodland on the southern scarp of the Mendip Hills, five miles northwest of Wells. The woodlands are mostly broadleaved trees and the grassland is rooted in shallow soil above limestone bedrock. Many plants on the reserve are characteristic of ancient woodlands, such as wood anemone, nettled-leaved bellflower, meadow saffron and wood spurge, but the nationally rare purple gromwell can also be spotted in the woodlands. Continued small-scale coppicing and maintenance encourages these rare plants to flourish. Pipistrelle and noctule bats roost in the woods and 46 species of breeding birds have been recorded,including buzzard and summer visitors such as the spotted flycatcher. Conservation grazing of the grassland encourages species such as early-purple orchid, bird’s foot trefoil, marjoram, rockrose and salad burnet. In their turn, the many flowers support a range of insects, including many butterfly species such as marbled white, purple hairstreak, brown argus and grayling.

Rodney Stoke National Nature Reserve
Rodney Stoke


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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