Hollow Marsh Meadow Nature Reserve, Somerset


★★★★

Long Dole Meadow
Stream in Long Dole Wood

Remote nature reserve comprising a wood, a section of stream and two fields of neutral grassland, with many wildflowers
Location
Along Pitway Lane, one mile west of Farrington Gurney; BS39 6TU
Photo Tour (15 images)
The 20 acre Hollow Marsh Meadow Nature Reserve is a rather remote site in northeast Somerset, containing two damp, wildflower-filled fields, a patch of coppiced, deciduous woodland and a short section of stream - a minor tributary of Cam Brook to the north. The place is reached by a bumpy, unpaved track and then a short path, and is best visited between May and mid July, since the meadows are cut in late summer for hay, and the scenery is perhaps not so special to justify a visit at other times, when the flowers are not in bloom.

The rarest of the wildflowers found here, in either the woodland or the meadows, are broad-leaved helleborine, dyer's greenweed and heath spotted orchid, while more common and numerous species include pignut, common knapweed, sneezewort, saw-wort, betony, devil's-bit scabious, lesser burnet, pepper saxifrage, common fleabane, lady's bedstraw, cow vetch, hairy St-John's wort and common spotted orchid.

Like all wildflower-based nature reserves, Hollow Marsh Meadow is a good location for butterflies in summer, and a variety of birds, while bats, dormice, field voles and deer may also occasionally be seen. The nature reserve occupies the majority of Long Dole Wood and Meadows Site of Special Scientific Interest, which additionally includes another section of woodland, adjacent on the east side.



Access


The nature reserve lies beyond the end of Pitway Lane, which forks west off the A37 at Farrington Gurney. The lane is paved at first, through a residential area, then unpaved, continuing past several field entrances before bending 90 degrees south. Parking is at the bend, from where a path crosses a field and the neighbouring wood, reaching the reserve entrance after 800 feet.

The Reserve


The first field, Hollow Marsh Meadow, is lined by trees on all sides and crossed by a ditch, or rhyne. The grass here is grazed during summer and spring by small numbers of cattle and horses and so contains fewer wildflowers; it is also somewhat boggier and more overgrown than the second field (Long Dole Meadow), which is reached via a bridge over the stream, and a stile. This is a long, narrow enclosure of gently sloping land, relatively dry, and grazed only after the hay cut, so particularly colourful during the summer. Trees to the south are part of Long Dole Wood, which is crossed by a few faint paths. In spring, the forest floor is liberally covered with flowers of bluebells, violets and wood anemones, while in summer, once the canopy has closed in, flowers are far fewer in number, and are concentrated along the streambanks.

Dyer's greenweed, genista tinctoria
Dyer's greenweed, genista tinctoria