Natural England - Rodney Stoke NNR

Rodney Stoke NNR

Rodney Stoke NNR is an ash/lime woodland on the southern scarp of the Mendip Hills.

Rodney Stoke NNR

County: Somerset

Main habitats: Woodland, grassland

Why visit: With stunning views and a rich flora and fauna, Rodney Stoke NNR is a fine example of the woodlands that can be found on the southern slopes of the Mendip Hills.

The reserve has two main habitat types; broadleaved woodland and calcareous grassland. 

Star species: Many plants found on the site are characteristic of ancient woodlands, such as wood anemone, nettled-leaved bellflower, meadow saffron and wood spurge. The nationally rare purple gromwell can also be spotted in the woodlands. Continued small scale coppicing and maintenance encourages these rare plants to flourish.

Pipistrelle and noctule bats roost in the woods whilst 46 species of breeding birds have been recorded including buzzards and spotted flycatchers. 

Conservation grazing of the calcareous grassland encourages a sward which includes species such as early-purple orchid, birds foot trefoil, marjoram, rock rose and salad burnet. This flower rich community in turn benefits many insects. Butterflies seen here and on the woodland edge include marbled white, purple hairstreak, brown argus and grayling.

Please note, a public footpath crosses the reserve at Jessie Weeks field, but access beyond this point is by permit only.

History

The landscape of the Mendip hills has seen extensive human use over the past 5000 years. Neolithic flint piles and the remains of beaker-type pottery provide evidence of man’s historic use of the reserve. The reserve also shows many signs of medieval occupation and is surrounded by medieval field systems and villages. Much of the woodland is ancient and has historically been coppiced. The remains of ancient charcoal burners’ hearths can still be found within the woodland today. 

During the First World War, almost all the woodland was clear felled with another later clearance taking place in 1939. Large sections of the woodlands have also been historically worked for limestone.

How to get there

We encourage the use of sustainable transport whenever possible.

By cycle

Rodney Stoke is on the proposed Route 26external link of the Sustrans National Cycle Network.

By train

The nearest train station is in Weston-super-Mareexternal link.

By bus

Bus services run between Weston-super-Mare and Wells, stopping at Rodney Stoke. See the Traveline SWexternal link website for details.

By car

The reserve is adjacent to Rodney Stoke village on the A371, five miles north west of Wells. Please note, there is no public car park for the reserve and parking is not possible on the small roads leading to the reserve.

On foot

Two major trails pass near the reserve, the Mendip Wayexternal link and the Samaritans Wayexternal link (South West) a trail from Bristol to Lynton.

Visiting the reserve

The nearest toilet and refreshment facilities are in local villages, Cheddar and Wells.

School and community groups

There is currently limited use of the site for educational purposes. For further information or to arrange a guided walk please contact site staff on 01458 860120. 

Volunteering

There are also many opportunities for people interested in volunteering and learning new skills like habitat management, species protection, construction or survey.

Call the Natural England site office on 01458 860120 for more details.

Visit our section on volunteering with Natural England

Further information

To find out more about the reserve, contact site staff on 01458 860120.