Tor Hole Fields Nature Reserve, Somerset


The view northeast

Small, little-visited nature reserve of sloping grassland and a few trees, in the Mendip Hills
Along a minor road 6 miles north of Wells; BA3 4LS
Tor Hole Fields is one of the smallest and least visited of over a dozen nature reserves in the Mendip Hills of northeast Somerset, comprising six fields on sloping ground on the north side of a ridge, mostly containing grassland, plus patches of scrub and gorse bushes, and one group of trees, adjoining a boggy area at the lowest point of the reserve. This moist section, formed by several tiny springs, contains the two rarest plants of the reserve, bog pimpernel and broad-leaved helleborine; across the rest of the site the wildflowers are all generally common, such as lousewort, yellow rattle, betony, yarrow, greater knapweed and common spotted orchid.

The views are not especially remarkable since higher ground rises on most sites; the only long-distance vista is to the northeast. The lower fields are grazed by cattle during spring and summer, while the upper two are used to produce hay, and so are grazed only after the late summer cut.

The meadows have an inconspicuous entrance, along a minor road west of Bathway on the A39 - 1.2 miles from the junction, just west of Tor Hole Cottage. There is parking space for one or two vehicles by the gate, just beyond which is a Somerset Wildlife Trust information board, including a map of the site. From here, a faint path climbs the slope, across three of the fields, and intersecting another route to two others, though it is easy enough to walk anywhere. The latter path continues to higher ground south of the reserve, and more extensive woodland to the north, on the far side of the road. The best of the (neutral) grassland plants are in the two hay meadows to the south, while the other interesting location is the boggy area beside the patch of woodland, along the northern edge.