Partnership Working with Stile

Thursday 14th February 2019

The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Unit and Somerset Wildlife Trust have been working together to enhance Bubwith Acres Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest overlooking Cheddar in the heart of the Mendip Hills AONB.

Volunteers from both organisations joined forces in January to improve access and restore habitat.

Two old rotten stiles were replaced with new kissing gates along a public footpath on the edge of the reserve after a request from local group, Cheddar Walking. The footpath is also part of the West Mendip Way, enabling walkers to better explore this recreational trail that spans from Weston-super-Mare through to Wells and beyond to Frome as part of the wider Mendip Way.

Volunteers also cleared a block of scrub, made up of hawthorn and bramble, restoring a limestone grassland slope. Species-rich calcareous grasslands are an important habitat in the Mendip Hills, supporting a wide range of wildflowers, orchids and butterflies.

Chris Eyles, West Mendip Senior Reserves Manager at Somerset Wildlife Trust said:

“This fragile habitat is particularly vulnerable to encroaching scrub, which if left unchecked will swallow up the grassland. This vital work means this area will now be capable of hosting a much richer variety of ground flora and invertebrates”.

Over 220 hours of time were generously given by volunteers as part of the joint practical task.

Tim Haselden, Development Officer for the Mendip Hills AONB, said:

“We’re really grateful to all of the volunteers who gave their time to help carry out these important access and habitat improvements on site. Working together in partnership and encouraging sustainable access to the landscape is key if we’re to successfully conserve, restore and protect the Mendip Hills for future generations”.

Practical conservation days with volunteers take place every other Wednesday at various sites across the Mendip Hills. For information please visit our volunteer page or the Somerset Wildlife Trust website.

Bubwith Acres Nature Reserve, overlooking Cheddar