Townsend Nature Reserve

Once a quarry but now a Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve on the southern hills overlooking Swanage Bay.

 

Site Name Townsend Nature Reserve
Protection
  • Dorset Wildlife Trust
  • Site of Scientific Interest
Interest
5
County Dorset
More Information https://www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserves/townsend
SSSI https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/SiteDetail.aspx?SiteCode=S1000959…
Site Projects
Townsend Nature Reserve

Townsend Nature Reserve - Where Swanage ends and the nature begins 

It seems to me Townsend is something of a forgotten place. Tucked away on the high downs of the southern edge of Swanage, Townsend was once a quarry but that was abandoned some eighty years ago and there is little sign of that now. The only people I seem to see when I visit are local people walking their dogs (and, sadly, lots of dog mess can be seen too!). You get superb views over Swanage Bay towards Ballard Point and beyond as well as a stunning array of flowers.

This is limestone grassland at its best and as it was once a quarry the resulting thinned soil as a result of the stone extraction means that the grass is less vigorous than it might otherwise be and so there is an abundance of flowers. In spring and early summer there are orchids and cowslips everywhere; indeed I understand that seven species of orchid have been found on the site which is designated a site of special scientific interest. Amongst the orchids look for the early spider orchid, a national rarity and a speciality of this part of Dorset. The yellow meadow ant hills are a sign that the ground has not been disturbed for a long time and that is where to look for dwarf mouse-ear, rue-leaved saxifrage and hairy-fruited cornsalad, all three species are also national rarities.

Parking can be a problem though but as there are not that many visitors to the reserve you can usually get away with parking in the road alongside! I really recommend a visit to Townsend, especially in early summer; it is a Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve.  

Townsend Nature Reserve

50.601686782251, -1.9677312299036
Dorset Wildlife Trust, Site of Scientific Interest
5
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

20
H6

Sand Dunes

17
B3

Calcareous Grassland

15
A1.1

Broad-leaf Woodland

12
J1

Cultivated/disturbed land

12
A2

Scrub

10
H8

Maritime cliff and slope

10
A1.3

Mixed Woodland

9
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

22
MG05

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

20
CG03

Bromopsis erecta [Upright Brome] grassland

19
CG02

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

18
CG06

Helictotrichon pubescens [Downy Oat-grass] grassland

18
W09

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

18
CG07

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

17
CG01

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

16
MG01

Arrhenatherum elatius [False Oat-grass] grassland

16
W10

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

16
The number of species recorded per species group: