Photo AONB Unit

Black Down Access and Conservation Work

The AONB Unit coordinated the second phase of erosion repair and path construction work on Black Down. The result is a durable surface for walkers, cyclists and horse riders while safeguarding the rich archaeology and wildlife of the site.

bdfinished-section-barrow-diversionThe route to the Beacon Batch trig point was one of the most heavily eroded parts of Black Down. A combination of peaty soil, heavy rain and increased pressure from recreational use (walkers, cyclists and horse riders) had formed an eroded gully 1 metre deep in places. The gully had become so deep the path sides were collapsing and damaging the World War II tumps and a Bronze Age barrow that are key features of the site’s designated Scheduled Monument status. Valuable heathland habitat alongside the gully was also being eroded.

Thanks to £56,394 funding from Historic England and Natural England work has been completed to improve 590 metres of this route. Imported limestone filled the gully to bring it to the surrounding ground level and provide a solid base for the path. The path was top-dressed with imported sandstone to match the geology and character of the site.

Following completion the contractors re-instated the delivery route by levelling the path surface, re-profiling the path sides and creating drains to take water off the path line. This route is now the same width as before the works started. Where the route had been 2 or 3 parallel lines through the grassland a single line of around 1.5 metres wide has been created and the sides of the route re-profiled for vegetation to re-establish. This was supported by Natural England and Historic England as the best approach to take.

Mendip Rocks! Project

mrlets-rock-rock-quiz-4The AONB Unit developed a Mendip Rocks! Project proposal following significant consultation and discussion with a wide variety of partners including conservation and heritage organisations, landowners/ site managers, museums, walking groups and Parish Councils. The project aims to build on the success of the Mendip Rocks! Festival with a programme of interpretation, education, community research projects and management of geological sites.

The outline costed project plan formed the basis of a grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in November 2015 to deliver a 3-year project managed by a dedicated project officer. This application was not successful and, following discussions with the Heritage Lottery Fund, alternative approaches for delivering the Mendip Rocks! project are being developed.

Full Annual Review 2015-2016 (PDF download 2.5MB)