West Sedgemoor

West Sedgemoor or West Sedge Moor (grid reference ST361258) is an area of the Somerset Levels, in Somerset, England, around 8 miles (13 km) east of Taunton, which approximately coincides with the West Sedgemoor biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, a 1,016 hectare (3.9 sq miles) site notified as an SSSI in 1983. It is a flat, low-lying area (approx. 5 metres above sea level) of fields and meadows separated by water-filled rhynes and ditches. It is subject to controlled flooding in winter. It is drained by the River Parrett.

Part of the moor is a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve. A rich invertebrate fauna is present including scarce water beetles, dragonflies and bugs. The site also supports good populations of waterfowl, especially waders. Breeding birds include snipe, lapwing, redshank, curlew, water rail, yellow wagtail and whinchat.[1]

Swell Wood, an ancient deciduous wood on the southern edge of the reserve, has one of the UK's largest heronries, which is best visited between March and June.[2]

West Sedgemoor
Site of Special Scientific Interest
RSPB West Sedgemoor nature reserve - lake
A lake at the RSPB West Sedgemoor nature reserve
West Sedgemoor is located in Somerset
West Sedgemoor
Location within Somerset
Area of SearchSomerset
Grid referenceST361258
Coordinates51°01′41″N 2°54′45″W / 51.02800°N 2.91256°WCoordinates: 51°01′41″N 2°54′45″W / 51.02800°N 2.91256°W
Area1,016 hectares (10.16 km2; 3.92 sq mi)
Natural England website


  1. ^ "West Sedgemoor" (PDF). English Nature. Retrieved 2006-08-22.
  2. ^ "West Sedgemoor". RSPB Reserves. Retrieved 2006-08-22.
Fivehead Woods and Meadow

Fivehead Woods and Meadow (grid reference ST331231) is a 62.4 hectare (154.2 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest near the village of Fivehead in Somerset, notified in 1989.

This woodland complex is situated on a ridge of land overlooking West Sedgemoor. The site includes a large breeding colony of grey herons (Ardea cinerea) in one of the woods and breeding pairs of nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos) as well. Buzzards (Buteo buteo), and sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) also breed. The common dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius), a rare species, is found in at least one of the woods. Swell Wood, which is part of the site, is a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Reserve.

List of RSPB reserves

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is Europe's largest wildlife conservation charity.

This is a list of RSPB reserves.

List of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in Somerset

This is a list of the Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in Somerset, England, United Kingdom. In England the body responsible for designating SSSIs is Natural England, which chooses a site because of its fauna, flora, geological or physiographical features. There are 127 sites designated in this Area of Search, of which 83 have been designated due to their biological interest, 35 due to their geological interest, and 9 for both.Natural England took over the role of designating and managing SSSIs from English Nature in October 2006 when it was formed from the amalgamation of English Nature, parts of the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service. Natural England, like its predecessor, uses the 1974–1996 county system, and as such the same approach is followed here, therefore some sites you may expect to find in this list could be in the Avon list. The data in the table is taken from English Nature in the form of citation sheets for each SSSI.For other counties, see List of SSSIs by Area of Search.

List of locations in the Somerset Levels

The following is a list of locations in the Somerset Levels, England.

List of the largest Sites of Special Scientific Interest in England

This is a list of the largest Sites of Special Scientific Interest in England in decreasing order of size. A lower threshold of 100 hectares or one square kilometre has been used.

River Parrett

The River Parrett flows through the counties of Dorset and Somerset in South West England, from its source in the Thorney Mills springs in the hills around Chedington in Dorset. Flowing northwest through Somerset and the Somerset Levels to its mouth at Burnham-on-Sea, into the Bridgwater Bay nature reserve on the Bristol Channel, the Parrett and its tributaries drain an area of 660 square miles (1,700 km2) – about 50 per cent of Somerset's land area, with a population of 300,000.The Parrett's main tributaries include the Rivers Tone, Isle, and Yeo, and the River Cary via the King's Sedgemoor Drain. The 37-mile (60 km) long river is tidal for 19 miles (31 km) up to Oath. The fall of the river between Langport and Bridgwater is only 1 foot per mile (0.2 m/km), so it is prone to frequent flooding in winter and during high tides. Many approaches have been tried since at least the medieval period to reduce the incidence and effect of floods and to drain the surrounding fields.

In Anglo-Saxon times the river formed a boundary between Wessex and Dumnonia. It later served the Port of Bridgwater, and enabled cargoes to be transported inland. The arrival of the railways led to a decline in commercial shipping, and the only working docks are at Dunball. Man's influence on the river has left a legacy of bridges and industrial artefacts. The Parrett along with its connected waterways and network of drains supports an ecosystem that includes several rare species of flora and fauna. The River Parrett Trail has been established along the banks of the river.

River Parrett Trail

The River Parrett Trail is a long-distance footpath that can be used for walking, jogging, or running, following the route of the River Parrett in Somerset, England. The trail, which is 50 miles (80 km) long, runs from Chedington in Dorset to the mouth of the river in Bridgwater Bay where it joins the West Somerset Coast Path.

It passes many landmarks and places of interest including; Burrow Hill Cider Farm, Muchelney Abbey, West Sedgemoor (a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the Blake Museum, Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum, the site of the Battle of Sedgemoor and finally discharging into Bridgwater Bay (another SSSI).

The trail is managed by The Parrett Trail Partnership, a consortium of agencies including:Arts Council England, South West, British Waterways, Cannington Agricultural College, Country Land and Business Association, Natural England, Environment Agency, National Farmers Union, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, Somerset Wildlife Trust, South Somerset District Council, South West Tourism, Take Art!, Somerset West and Taunton District Council and Dorset Council.


Sedgemoor is a low-lying area of land in Somerset, England. It lies close to sea level south of the Polden Hills, historically largely marsh (or "moor" in its older sense). The eastern part is known as King's Sedgemoor, and the western part West Sedgemoor. Sedgemoor is part of the area now known as the Somerset Levels and Moors. Historically the area was known as the site of the Battle of Sedgemoor.

Sedgemoor has given its name to a local government district formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, by a merger of the municipal borough of Bridgwater, the Burnham-on-Sea urban district, Bridgwater Rural District and part of Axbridge Rural District. The district covers a larger area than the historical Sedgemoor, extending north of the Polden Hills across the Somerset Levels and Moors to the Mendip Hills.

Somerset Levels

The Somerset Levels are a coastal plain and wetland area of Somerset, England, running south from the Mendips to the Blackdown Hills.

The Somerset Levels have an area of about 160,000 acres (650 km2) and are bisected by the Polden Hills; the areas to the south are drained by the River Parrett, and the areas to the north by the rivers Axe and Brue. The Mendip Hills separate the Somerset Levels from the North Somerset Levels. The Somerset Levels consist of marine clay "levels" along the coast and inland peat-based "moors"; agriculturally, about 70 per cent is used as grassland and the rest is arable. Willow and teazel are grown commercially and peat is extracted.

A Palaeolithic flint tool found in West Sedgemoor is the earliest indication of human presence in the area. The Neolithic people exploited the reed swamps for their natural resources and started to construct wooden trackways, including the world's oldest known timber trackway, the Post Track, dating from about 3800 BC. The Levels were the location of the Glastonbury Lake Village as well as two Lake villages at Meare Lake. Several settlements and hill forts were built on the natural "islands" of slightly raised land, including Brent Knoll and Glastonbury. In the Roman period sea salt was extracted and a string of settlements were set up along the Polden Hills. The discovery at Shapwick of 9,238 silver Roman coins, known as the Shapwick Hoard, was the second largest ever found from the time of the Roman Empire. A number of Saxon charters document the incorporation of areas of moor in estates. In 1685, the Battle of Sedgemoor was fought in the Bussex area of Westonzoyland at the conclusion of the Monmouth Rebellion.

As a result of the wetland nature of the Levels, the area contains a rich biodiversity of national and international importance. It supports a vast variety of plant and bird species and is an important feeding ground for birds and includes 32 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, of which 12 are also Special Protection Areas. The area has been extensively studied for its biodiversity and heritage, and has a growing tourism industry.

People have been draining the area since before the Domesday Book. In the Middle Ages, the monasteries of Glastonbury, Athelney and Muchelney were responsible for much of the drainage. The artificial Huntspill River was constructed during the Second World War as a reservoir, although it also serves as a drainage channel. The Sowy River between the River Parrett and King's Sedgemoor Drain was completed in 1972; water levels are managed by the Levels internal drainage boards. During 2009 and 2010 proposals to build a series of electricity pylons by one of two routes between Hinkley Point and Avonmouth, to transmit electricity from the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, attracted local opposition. Discussions have taken place concerning the possibility of obtaining World Heritage Site status for the Somerset Levels as a "cultural landscape". It was suggested that if this bid were successful it could improve flood control, but only if wetland fens were created again; the plans were abandoned in 2010.

South West England

South West England is one of nine official regions of England. It is the largest in area, covering 9,200 square miles (23,800 km2), and consists of the counties of Bristol, Cornwall, Dorset, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Wiltshire, as well as the Isles of Scilly. Five million people live in South West England.

The region includes the West Country and much of the ancient kingdom of Wessex. The largest city is Bristol. Other major urban centres include Plymouth, Swindon, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Exeter, Bath, Torbay, and the South East Dorset conurbation which includes Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch. There are eight cities: Salisbury, Bath, Wells, Bristol, Gloucester, Exeter, Plymouth and Truro. It includes two entire national parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor (a small part of the New Forest is also within the region); and four World Heritage Sites, including Stonehenge and the Jurassic Coast. The northern part of Gloucestershire, near Chipping Campden, is as close to the Scottish border as it is to the tip of Cornwall. The region has by far the longest coastline of any English region.

The region is at the first level of NUTS for Eurostat purposes. Key data and facts about the region are produced by the South West Observatory. Following the abolition of the South West Regional Assembly and Government Office, local government coordination across the region is now undertaken by South West Councils.

The region is known for its rich folklore, including the legend of King Arthur and Glastonbury Tor, as well as its traditions and customs. Cornwall has its own language, Cornish, and some regard it as a Celtic nation. The South West is known for Cheddar cheese, which originated in the Somerset village of Cheddar; Devon cream teas, crabs, Cornish pasties, and cider. It is home to the Eden Project, Aardman Animations, the Glastonbury Festival, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, trip hop music and Cornwall's surfing beaches. The region has also been home to some of Britain's most renowned writers, including Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie, both of whom set many of their works here, and the South West is also the location of Thomas Hardy's Wessex, the setting for many of his best-known novels.

Stoke St Gregory

Stoke St Gregory is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England, about 7 miles (11 km) east of Taunton in the Somerset West and Taunton district. The village is on a low ridge of land between the River Tone to the north and West Sedgemoor to the south. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 942.

Windsor Hill Marsh

Windsor Hill Marsh (grid reference ST619454) is a 0.84 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, north of the town of Shepton Mallet in Somerset, and adjacent to the Windsor Hill Quarry geological Site of Special Scientific Interest. It was notified in January 1972.

Windsor Hill Marsh is a marshy silted pond, with adjacent damp, slightly acidic grassland. Adjoining the marsh are a limestone bank, and a short stream which flows into a swallet

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