Page content (index.php)

Wednesday 28th January was a fierce day with strong cold winds and squally showers; this did not deter the South West Heritage Trust’s Hands on Heritage volunteers and they headed down to Natural England’s Shapwick Heath National Nature reserve to construct a replica section of the Meare Heath trackway.

The original trackway dates from the Bronze Age and linked the Polden Hills and the island of Meare. The line of its route just to the east of the path leading to Noah’s hide on Shapwick Heath. It was first seen by Arthur Bullied in 1890. It was investigated and recorded in the 1940s and 1970s and these records were used to “design” the replica.

The volunteers prepared the timbers during their regular Wednesday sessions. This is the second section of replica trackway they have built, the first being a section of the Sweet Track which was completed late last year.

Both sections of trackway can be seen at Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve. Just walk along the Sweet Track Trail and you will be following the line of the Sweet Track. This will take you along the replica section of the  Meare Heath track. Crossing a meadow you will the come to the replica section of the Sweet Track disappearing into the reeds as it would have dome all those years ago –  sorry you cannot walk on the Sweet Track as you may disappear also!

Diagram of mere heath trackmeare heath track construction

Page content (index.php)

From early times people built trackways across the soft ground of the Avalon Marshes. These linked the dry “islands” such as Meare with the Polden Hills.  The design of these trackways varied and some were constructed of timber hurdles (a crisscross of woven branches). These were laid end to end on the soft ground.

Move forward to thousands of years and the nature reserves of the Avalon Marshes are a haven for those wanting to enjoy the wildlife and wonderful landscape of the area.  Lots of feet can turn the soft peat paths into a muddy quagmire.

Natural England, working with local company Coates English Willow, have overcome this problem by copying an old technology. The path to the popular Noahs Hide is well used and in the winter can be a bit muddy! Coates Willow have supplied and laid a continuous hurdle trackway to the hide. This has then been covered by wood chippings left over from management work on the reserve. The result, a firm sustainable trackway to the hide.

You can see more photos on the BBC News website

To plan your visit go to the Exlpore section of this website

Neolithic track detail