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16 July 2010
Walton Hill

Management of scrub at Walton Hill

 

One of the most enjoyable places from which to enjoy the beauty of the Somerset levels and surrounding hills is Walton Hill. With easy access thanks to the car park, the hill is much visited by people living in and around the area as well as those pausing on the journey along the busy through route. Walton Hill is also a site of exceptional wildlife value: the limestone underlying the grassland is an increasingly rare habitat and teams with flowers and butterflies enjoying the warmth of the south facing slopes.

In the decades before and after WWII Walton was known as one of the best jewels of Somerset, alive with more species than almost anywhere else in this rich county. Unfortunately over the years more and more of the bramble and thorn trees making up the woodland at the bottom of the slope have encroached onto the rare grassland. Although the woodland itself and some scrub is very valuable for wildlife their spread up the slope has begun to threaten the exceptional limestone grass flora and fauna as well as the open views.

We are planning to safeguard the grassland by returning the scrub boundary to where it used to be in the 1960s. This would leave all the woodland untouched at the bottom of the hill while opening up the grass on the upper slopes. The work planned for this winter will target the removal of a thin band of bramble and thorn bushes. The older trees with beautiful full crowns that had originally grown in open grassland but have since become surrounded by scrub will once again be returned to their rightful place as prominent features in the landscape.

          There will be an opportunity to learn about our management plans with a site visit with a National Trust Ranger in late August – see the Walton Hill car park for more details nearer the time. In the meantime if you have any questions please call the Somerset Countryside office on 01934 844 518