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
Protection
  • Dorset Wildlife Trust
  • Site of Scientific Interest
Interest
4
County Dorset
More Information https://www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserves/stonehill-down
SSSI https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/SiteDetail.aspx?SiteCode=S2000303…
Site Projects
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.  

Stonehill Down Nature Reserve

50.637643903801, -2.1083103933291
Dorset Wildlife Trust, Site of Scientific Interest
4
These are the habitat types that MAY be present on the site based on the species recorded there (top 10 only shown):
Phase 1 Habitat Types Description No of Species
D1

Dwarf Shrub Heath

19
H6

Sand Dunes

16
A1.1

Broad-leaf Woodland

15
B3

Calcareous Grassland

14
J1

Cultivated/disturbed land

13
A1.3

Mixed Woodland

11
A2

Scrub

11
H8

Maritime cliff and slope

10
B2

Neutral Grassland

9
B5

Marsh/marshy Grassland

8
These are the number of species for NVC codes on the site - it DOES NOT mean that the NVC community is actually present on the site: it might be! (Top 10 only shown):
NVC Community Description No of Species
W08

Fraxinus excelsior - Acer campestre - Mercurialis perennis [Ash/Field Maple/Dog's Mercury] woodland

31
W09

Fraxinus excelsior - Sorbus aucuparia - Mercurialis perennis [Ash/Rowan/Dog's Mercury] woodland

28
W10

Quercus robur - Pteridium aquilinum - Rubus fruticosus [Pedunculate Oak/Bracken/Bramble] woodland

27
CG02

Festuca ovina - Helictotrichon pratense [Sheep's Fescue/Meadow Oat-grass] grassland

23
CG03

Bromopsis erecta [Upright Brome] grassland

23
MG05

Cynosurus cristatus - Centaurea nigra [Crested Dogs-tail/Black knapweed] grassland

21
CG07

Festuca ovina - Pilosella officinarum - Thymus polytrichum [Sheeps Fescue/Mouse-ear hawkweed/Wild Thyme] grassland

21
CG06

Helictotrichon pubescens [Downy Oat-grass] grassland

20
MG01

Arrhenatherum elatius [False Oat-grass] grassland

19
CG01

Festuca ovina - Calluna vulgaris [Sheeps Fescue/Ling] grassland

19
Site Diary
Project:
Diary Date Sort descending Notes Project Click for records and photos
17-07-20

Gloriously sunny up on the Purbeck Ridge but a bit breezy!

  • At last, I found one of my targets; the scarce Pale St John's-wort
  • Most of the usuals chalk downland flora present but not many butterflies
  • Stonehill is worth the visit just for the views
view
The number of species recorded per species group: