Holford Kelting Nature Reserve, Somerset


★★★★

Ferny banks
Wood anemone

Streamside vegetation and ancient deciduous woodland on the east side of the Quantock Hills, with limited access
Location
Half a mile northwest of Holford; TA5 1SD
Streamside vegetation and ancient deciduous woodland are the two components of Holford Kelting Nature Reserve, a little-visited, 13 acre site on the north side of the village of Holford, a few miles from the Somerset coast. The reserve covers part of a wooded valley up to 130 feet deep through which runs the unnamed stream from Hodder's Combe and Holford Combe, two of the main drainages of the east side of the Quantock Hills. Further north, the stream soon leaves the valley and meets the sea at Kilve. The reserve contains most of the typical indicator wildflower species of undisturbed woodland, most abundant being bluebells, wild garlic, would anemone and wood sorrel, plus violets, speedwells, and a few riparian species such as marsh marigold.

A path enters the trees towards the south end of the valley (Oyle's Wood) and a spur descends to the stream, however the nature reserve boundary is a little further north, in a less deep part of the valley, and near this point the path exits the trees and runs instead along the edge of a large field to the east, out-of-sight of the stream; the reserve itself seems to be pathless, explorable only by cross-country walking.




The Reserve


There is room for a couple of vehicles at the start of the Oyle's Wood path, along the northernmost of the three roads into Holford from the A39, from where the trail descends gradually through open woodland of tall, well-separated trees, with the stream flowing below. After a quarter of a mile the path enters the adjacent field, passes through another short patch of trees on the far side and continues to a farm track; access to the reserve is by walking down the slope to the west, towards the valley floor. Following the stream is the obvious way to explore the woods, and while there are no major obstacles, a combination of boggy patches, thick undergrowth, fallen branches and occasional steeper sections and low cliffs mean that the walk is more difficult than might be expected.