Walking

Ham Hill Country Park

Posted on Sep 27, 2013

Ham Hill Country Park

Offering superb views of the South Somerset Moors, Exmoor and the Mendip Hills, Ham Hill has something for everyone. Large wildflower meadows, steeply sloping Iron Age ramparts, a deserted medieval village and historically managed woodlands all offer fantastic opportunities to explore this unique piece of Somerset countryside. This website is designed to give you a good insight to the many different areas of interest in Ham Hill and help you plan for your visit to this fascinating Country Park and hopefully make it a memorable one. You can download a comprehensive brochure called the Ham Hill Herald which gives maps, ideas of walks and lots of informtion or a Quick Guide to Ham Hill for a map of the park and a little bit of information. Ham Hill has a long and fascinating past. It was prehistoric man who first recognised the advantages of settling on top of this raised Hamstone outcrop. Little has survived the intervening 4000 years, but just enough has remained to let us know they were here Artefacts such as flint tools, slingstones, quern stones and pottery that they left behind are on show at the Ham Hill Centre (phone ahead on 01935 823617 to see if a member of staff will be there to help you plan your visit). However most of the important artefacts are held at the  County Museum in Taunton  Intensive occupation on the hill starts in the Iron Age. Roundhouses were built, fields created and the settlement flourished. Trading links were wide and the 200 acre size of Hamdon Hillfort testifies to the powers it held in the South West. Huge treeless ramparts (large slopes and ditches), with wooden palaside fences on the top and Hamstone slopes were built over hundreds of years during the Iron Age to deter possible invaders from enemy tribes. All went well until the first century A.D. when a fighting force to conquer all others invaded England. Under Vespasian’s command, Hamdon Hillfort succumbed to Roman occupation! http://www.southsomersetcountryside.com/ham-hill-country-park/history.aspx...

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River Parrett Trail

Posted on Sep 27, 2013

River Parrett Trail

The River Parrett is one of the main rivers draining the Somerset Levels, or Plain of Sedgemoor. Its source is the green hills on the Dorset and South Somerset border at Chedington, from where it flows northwards to enter the Bristol Channel near Burnham on Sea. The River Parrett Trail is one of England’s beautiful ‘source to mouth’ river routes all of which offer fabulous walking enhanced by the fascinating  presence of water. The River Parrett Trail can be enjoyed as a 50 mile hike over 3 or 4 days or as a series of shorter walks exploring some of England’s most beautiful, intriguing but also fragile countryside. This is comfortable walking through the gentle hills of the Dorset and Somerset borders and across the wetlands of the Somerset Levels and Moors. It is also a fascinating journey through orchards, woods, withy beds and the watery haunts of birds and fishermen; passing limestone cottages, Georgian terraces, elegant mediaeval churches and the elaborate pattern of rhynes and water courses of the low land.  On the way you can visit Ham Hill – the site of one of Europe’s largest Iron Age hill forts, Stoke St. Gregory – the heart of the Somerset willow growing and basket making industry, Burrow Mump and Athelney – where the Saxon King Alfred found a refuge from the Vikings (and burnt the cakes).  At Ham Hill the route links with the Liberty Trail and the Leland Trail. http://annierak.hoofbags.me.uk/parretttrail.html Follow the River Parrett from the source in Chedington in Dorset to the mouth in Bridgwater Bay, Somerset. The route first heads to Langport passing Haselbury and the 16th century English Heritage owned Muchelney Abbey. You continue north through Langport and onto Burrowbridge where you will pass the interesting geological and historical site at Burrow Mump. The river then takes you towards Bridgwater passing the Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum. This Industrial Heritage museum is dedicated to steam powered machinery and makes for a fascinating few hours. The final section takes you through Bridgwater and Combwich before finishing at the beautiful Steart Nature Reserve on Bridgwater Bay. http://www.gps-routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/routeslinkswalks/river-parret-trail-walking-route...

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Ham Wall Nature Reserve

Posted on Sep 27, 2013

Ham Wall Nature Reserve

Here you can enjoy a newly created wetland, which provides a safe home for many rare species including water voles and otters. In spring the reedbeds are alive with birdsong and in autumn you can see kingfishers flashing up and down the ditches. Bitterns are seen regularly all year round. There is disabled access to this reserve by RADAR key, and special tactile signs explaining what is there. Events are held throughout the year for families and for those who want to learn more about wildlife. http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/h/hamwall/about.aspx...

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Greylake Nature Reserve

Posted on Sep 27, 2013

Greylake Nature Reserve

The fields here used to be arable farmland, but now they are being looked after so that they are ideal for wetland birds and other wildlife. We have put in structures to keep the water levels high and have created miles of new ditches and shallow water-filled gutters, and dug out numerous shallow pools or ‘scrapes’. Now you can see lapwings, snipe, curlews and redshanks nesting here in summer, as well as yellow wagtails, skylarks and meadow pipits. In winter, the land floods and flocks of lapwings, golden plovers and other wading birds arrive. You can also see wigeons, teals, shovelers and Bewick’s swans at this time of year. There is lots of other wildlife to see here too including dragonflies, water voles, otters and roe deer. There is a boardwalk which meanders from the car park to the hide and provides excellent disabled access....

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Swell Wood

Posted on Sep 27, 2013

Swell Wood

The ancient oaks of Swell Wood are part of a continuous strip of woodland extending some 10 miles (15 km) along the ridge from Langport to the Blackdown Hills. It has the largest colony of breeding grey herons in south-west England – more than 100 pairs and a small number of little egrets nest here. Between March and June is the best time to come and see the spectacle. If you’re lucky, you might see a dormouse among the hazel trees, while wildflowers such as bluebells cover the woodland in spring. Look out for primroses and orchids, too. We manage the woodland to benefit the dormice, woodland birds, butterflies and plants. You can explore our two nature trails and hide, which are open at all times....

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West Sedgemoor Nature Reserve

Posted on Sep 27, 2013

West Sedgemoor Nature Reserve

West Sedgemoor is part of England’s largest remaining wet meadow system. Set among the Somerset Levels and Moors, it has the largest lowland population of breeding wading birds such as lapwings, snipe, curlew and redshanks in southern England.   In winter, the controlled flooding on the wet meadows attracts birds in their thousands – ducks such as wigeons, teals, shovelers, pintails and mallards, and wading birds such as golden plovers, snipe and lapwings. The reserve has restricted access to protect ground-nesting birds and over-wintering flocks. Come on one of our guided walks to get special access to our winter viewing station.   West Sedgemoor is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. To keep the hay meadows and pastures special for wildlife, we control water levels and the grazing cattle create ideal habitats for ground-nesting birds. Our hedgerows are managed using traditional methods benefiting birds, small mammals and butterflies, and water voles and otters breed here too....

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