Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve
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.
The reserve today
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.
Click on the buttons on the map below to view a virtual tour of a hide’s interior.
- To get a better view full screen – click on the top right icon – the “square”
- Now use the menu, click on name see where the feature is and find out more
- Or, click on the flags to find out what the feature is
- Want Map View? Go to the bottom of the menu, click the box
- Use the + and – to zoom in and out
Most of the reserve is now accessible with wellies; one of the paths to Tower Hide is closed due to deep water. (updated 27 Nov 23)
Nearest postcode BA6 9TX (takes you to a house 1 mile to the west of the car park); Grid ref ST 456 437; what3words: loft.insect.difficult
Open to the public all the year round. No charges.
The reserve has a car park – see map There is a 2.1m height barrier.
Hides and trails
Several hides, screens and platforms – link to map with further information. A variety of paths and trails – downloadable map.
Disabled access trail from main car park to two hides and Blue Badge parking by Viridor Hide.
At the Avalon Marshes Centre and at local cafes and pubs
Please note dogs are not allowed on the paths through the reserve, or in any of the hides. Dogs under close control are permitted on the two graveled tracks leading from the road (London Drove and Dagg’s Lane Drove – see map opposite), but please do not allow them to go into the water or undergrowth. Registered assistance dogs are allowed in all areas.
You can book a private guided tour of the reserve here: Westhay Wildlife Walks
Somerset Wildlife Trust
Email – email@example.com
Phone – 01823 652400
Website – https://www.somersetwildlife.org/