Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve (NNR) lies on the north side of the Avalon Marshes (part of Somerset’s Levels & Moors). It gives the visitor an insight into the landscape as it was; vast reed-beds, lakes and pools, wet woodlands and raised bogs. However, above all, it is a nature reserve teeming with wonderful wildlife.
In the 1970s Somerset Trust for Nature Conservation (now Somerset Wildlife Trust) purchased its first area of land at Westhay Moor and started to piece together what is now a very special reserve. Former peat worked areas were transformed into large reed-beds with open water, just as it looked thousands of years ago. There are areas of wet woodland and damp meadow but the habitat of greatest significance is the “mire”.
Vast areas of raised bog (or mire) were a distinctive feature of the Avalon Marshes until the early 19th century. Almost all has been lost, along with its special habitat. However Westhay Moor contains the largest surviving fragment of lowland acid mire in South-West England. Here you will find sundews, cotton grasses, sphagnum mosses, marsh pennywort, bog myrtle and much more.
In the summer metallic dragon and damsel flies glisten in the sun and the exotic sundew spreads across the lush wetlands. In winter birds from all over northern and eastern Europe flock to the reserve for its lakes and reed-beds. If you are lucky you may see an otter on the move or a water vole as it “plops” into the water. Overhead the majestic marsh harrier flies and in the reeds the bittern lurks.
Not only have Somerset Wildlife Trust looked after wildlife at Westhay but year by year public access and information has been improved. There are numerous hides and screens, a disabled access path, car parking and quiet paths and trails. See the map below.