Westbury Beacon Reserve

Mendip Hills

Westbury Beacon Reserve

Our Westbury Beacon Reserve is in the Mendip Hills above the village of Westbury-sub-Mendip at OS reference ST502507

About

The Westbury Beacon Reserve is our newest reserve and was purchased in 2015.  

It is located on the face of the scarp slope of the Mendip Hills above the village of Westbury and holds limestone grassland.

It is also very close to our Stoke Camp Reserve - you can walk between the two.

Butterflies & Moths

Today, Westbury Beacon is one of the few places on the Mendips where Chalkhill Blue and Wall Brown still survive. It also holds Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper, Brown Argus, Small Copper and Small Heath. 

In 2019, twenty five different butterfly species were recorded on the transect walks.

Reserve History

The bell barrow, known locally as Westbury Beacon, dates from the Early to Middle Bronze Age. It is a scheduled monument. (Historic England website)

Near the corrugated hut (associated with radar testing) there are Royal Observer Corps (ROC) monitoring posts.  Further information on Historic England website

Ordnance Survey Trig Pillar (S3250) is also in the reserve. (History about Trig Pillars)

Management

Before we purchased the land in 2015 it had been ungrazed for many years. We have started sheep grazing in winter and cleared a lot of gorse. 

Because the site is high and exposed to westerly winds it can get very cold here even in mid-summer, so we have designed the clearance so as to provide sheltered glades in which plants can flower and butterflies remain active.

Volunteers

Peter Bright & John Ball are joint Honorary Wardens for both Westbury Beacon and the nearby Stoke Camp Reserve. 

They, along along with volunteers keep an eye of the reserve and coordinate the management of it.

Conservation

Horseshoe vetch is the key foodplant for the Chalkhill Blues.

The appearance of numerous violet plants in the open areas raised the hope of recovering Dark Green Fritillary and we are now seeing these in small numbers. 

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary appeared in 2018 and might also breed.

Gallery

A selection of photos taken at the Reserve and species you may see.

Directions

Take the minor road signposted to Priddy off the A371 between Rodney Stoke and Westbury-sub-Mendip; after just over a mile park on Broad Road where the road is slightly wider near a small covered reservoir. Walk down the road to enter through a pedestrian gate into access land. Walk west across there for about 300 yards and you come to the reserve entrance in the corner by the boundary wall.

From its western end you can leave the reserve near the OS Trig Point, cross another field of access land and enter our Stoke Camp Reserve.

Tony Spiess

Honary Reserve Wardens: Peter Bright & John Ball

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