Stonehill Down Nature Reserve
A Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve high on the Purbeck Ridge with superb views, chalk grassland and lovely wooded escarpment
|Site Name||Stonehill Down Nature Reserve|
|Stonehill Down Nature Reserve|
Stonehill Down: a different point of view -
This is another Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve that offers you tremendous views as well as great wildlife! Set high on the Purbeck Ridge, when standing on top of the knowle you can see for miles across Poole Harbour and away to the far hills of north Dorset, in fact views through 360 degrees.
In some ways you could consider this two reserves in one. There is broadleaf coppiced woodland on the northern slopes of the Purbeck Ridge which are a must in spring with masses of flowers across the woodland floor. This is also the place to look for toothwort in spring around the base of hazel trees. Just a word of warning, this is pretty steep in places and can be heavy going!
The Purbeck Ridge is, of course, primarily chalk downland and so the area of the reserve on the top of the ridge is rough pasture with some scrub. This is best in late summer and early autumn when the autumn lady's tresses, autumn gentian (or felwort) and nettle-leaved bellflower are in bloom. Unfortunately, a local farmer has long term grazing rights on the open downland and so the area is very heavily grazed which prevents it from reaching its full potential.
There is little parking and there are some steep slopes so access can bit a little tricky and there are no visitor facilities but then, apart from us keen wildlife enthusiasts, there are few visitors so that does not matter in the slightest. Stonehill is always worth a visit but chose a nice day for the best views.
|NVC Community||Description||No of Species|
Fraxinus excelsior - Acer campestre - Mercurialis perennis [Ash/Field Maple/Dog's Mercury] woodland
Fraxinus excelsior - Sorbus aucuparia - Mercurialis perennis [Ash/Rowan/Dog's Mercury] woodland
Quercus robur - Pteridium aquilinum - Rubus fruticosus [Pedunculate Oak/Bracken/Bramble] woodland
Festuca ovina - Helictotrichon pratense [Sheep's Fescue/Meadow Oat-grass] grassland
Bromopsis erecta [Upright Brome] grassland
Cynosurus cristatus - Centaurea nigra [Crested Dogs-tail/Black knapweed] grassland
Festuca ovina - Pilosella officinarum - Thymus polytrichum [Sheeps Fescue/Mouse-ear hawkweed/Wild Thyme] grassland
Helictotrichon pubescens [Downy Oat-grass] grassland
Arrhenatherum elatius [False Oat-grass] grassland
Festuca ovina - Calluna vulgaris [Sheeps Fescue/Ling] grassland
|Diary Date Sort descending||Notes||Project||Click for records and photos|
Gloriously sunny up on the Purbeck Ridge but a bit breezy!