Walborough and Uphill Hill Nature Reserves, Somerset


Above the quarry
Salt marsh

Two adjacent nature reserves overlooking the west Somerset coast: coastal meadows and marshes, and a wildflower-covered peak
Photo Tour (23 images)
Walborough and Uphill Hill are two small, adjacent nature reserves a few miles south of Weston-super-Mare, bordering the peaceful village of Uphill. The former, managed by Avon Wildlife Trust, contains floral grassland and salt marsh, while the latter, owned by the local council and somewhat more interesting and scenic, includes a grassy hill, a disused quarry, a Norman church and a patch of woodland.

Apart from a few species found only in the salt marsh, the two reserves have similar plants, the most notable species being honewort, goldilocks aster, wild clary, autumn lady's-tresses, and the bee, green-winged and early purple orchids. The hill and surrounding fields have calcareous soil, being underlain by the same limestone ridge that forms the Mendip Hills to the east and Brean Down to the west.

A paved track (closed to vehicles) runs between the two reserves, and a short path loops through the grassy, slightly higher elevation section of the Walborough reserve - a field grazed by cattle in spring and summer, while lesser trails cross the flat salt marsh beyond, where plant life is generally more limited. Visitors are free to walk anywhere around the Uphill Hill reserve, in which three main points of interest are the cliffs of the old quarry, the picturesque church of St Nicholas just above the quarry rim, and an abandoned stone windmill on the summit of the hill, now used as a lookout observatory.

Uphill Hill Local Nature Reserve

A few parking spaces are available along Uphill Way, at the entrance to the local marina, in front of sluice gates that are occasionally closed at times of exceptionally high tides in order to prevent flooding of the village. Vehicles can also be parked a little way east along the road. The track leads past a boat yard and the marina, towards the reserves, first running beneath the quarry to the left. The cliffs are home to a few colourful plants including the horseshoe vetch and kidney vetch, seen best right along the rim, which is reachable from above after climbing the gentle slopes of the hill beyond, or via a steep scrambling route directly up a sloping rather than sheer section of the quarry sides. The track also passes an old limekiln, then reaches the main entrance to the Uphill Hill reserve, a 17 acre site. Most is grassland, with just a small patch of trees on the far (east) side. Wildflowers are most abundant across the steeper sections of the south and west slopes, while the best view of the whole area is from the top of the old windmill, accessed via a spiral staircase up the inside. Notices on the walls describe some of the plants found in the vicinity. The tower is also still occasionally used as a signal beacon.

Walborough Nature Reserve

The path into Walborough Nature Reserve, which, like Uphill Hill, is also a site of special scientific interest, leaves the marina track to the west, opposite the far side of Uphill Hill, following a hedge and a small steep zone alongside a field, where some of the wildflowers grow. Others, like cowslip and green-winged orchid, are abundant across the whole field. The path later curves back round and meets track once more. Visitors may also walk further west into the saltmarsh, bordering the estuarine River Axe. Here, salt-tolerant plants include sea barley, sea clover, sea lavender and scurvygrass, while the reserve as a whole is also a good place to see a variety of birds and butterflies.