Calcareous (lime rich) species such as cowslip, quaking grass and dwarf thistle thrive in the reserve’s former quarry and spoil heaps. The early purple orchid is also common in some areas. One field consists of unimproved rush pasture with species such as common spotted orchid, marsh marigold and ragged robin.
All of the fields in the reserve have thick hedgerows including hazel, hawthorn, field maple, ash, and holly. Dormice can be spotted amongst these hedgerows, as well a variety of butterflies. The River Yarty is also an important habitat, used by otter, kingfisher, dipper and golden-ringed dragonfly.
The lime kiln, keyhole-shaped quarry and spoil heaps can still be seen at Bishopswood Meadows to this day – evidence of the extensive lime-burning industry that grew up in the Bishopswood area in the mid 19th century. There was a huge demand for lime at the time. Farmers used lime to reduce the acidity of the Blackdown Hills’ soil. Lime was also an essential resource for the local building industry, used to make mortar, putty, and whitewash. The spoil from the lime kilns has certainly left its mark on today’s landscape.
Type of habitat:
Unimproved lime-rich grassland on clay
Look out for:
Butterflies: marbled-white, small and large skipper, gatekeeper, silver-washed fritillary. Good site for green woodpeckers.
Plants: common-spotted and early-purple orchid, wild carrot, black knapweed, yellow rattle, common milkwort, common centaury, agrimony, cowslip, quaking grass.
Dwarf thistle (locally uncommon), bee orchid
Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserve.
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Somerset Wildlife Trust
Best time to visit:
May to September
Grid reference: ST252131
Nearest postcode: TA20 3HA
Park in Bishopswood village and walk down past village hall. Lane off road at ST 252 129, 400 metres from Bishopswood village.