Stonehill Down Nature Reserve
High on the chalk ridge running west/east across the Isle of Purbeck, this downland reserve has far-reaching views across the Wareham Forest, with Poole Harbour to the east.
The short, chalk rich grassland here is home to a profusion of downland flowers including horseshoe vetch, chalk milkwort, common rock-rose, carline thistle and hairy violet. Common spotted, early purple & bee orchids speckle the down in early summer while autumn ladies tresses and autumn gentian can be found from late August. Not to be outdone, the woodland also offers a show of primroses & ramsons early in the year below a mixed canopy of ash, field maple, birch and hazel with some large oak.
Lulworth skipper & Adonis blue butterflies are occasionally seen, with more regular sightings of brown argus, dingy skipper and small heath. The open, dry grassland also supports a number of rare and notable insects including the two coloured mason bee and the limestone snipefly. The woodland and scrubby areas of the open down provide habitat for birds such as bullfinch, song thrush, common whitethroat, stonechat, meadow pipit and wheatear.
Heading south from Wareham, turn off the A351 for Springfield Country Hotel & continue straight along this road. Take the second left signposted to East Creech and follow to the top of the hill. Access is at the top of the hill opposite Creech Barrow.
Access and safety
UNDER THE COUNTRYSIDE AND RIGHTS OF WAY ACT 2000 (CROW), DOGS SHOULD BE KEPT ON SHORT LEADS ON THIS SITE (OPEN ACCESS LAND) FROM 1ST MARCH TO 31ST JULY TO PROTECT GROUND NESTING BIRDS.
Head through the entrance gate and bear left to follow along the top of the down or follow straight on and down into the valley. There are no formal paths but several desire lines through the woodland and across the down with further access points at the bottom of the valley and along Ridgeway Hill. Generally fairly even under foot but steep slopes into and out of the valley.
Cattle graze the site at times and there may be ticks on site. Be mindful of the risk of falling branches in the woodland in or after strong winds. The quarry area to the east of the site is a no access area with dangerous loose rocks and very steep slopes. For more information on these general countyside hazards and other aspects of visiting our nature reserves please see our visitor information page.
Species and habitats
Chalk grassland, broadleaved woodland.
Cowslip, dwarf thistle, eyebright, fairy flax, horseshoe vetch, birds-foot-trefoil, toothwort, bluebell, common whitethroat, meadow pipit, willow warber, woodcock, dingy skipper, adonis blue, small copper, wood tiger.
Nearby nature reserves
Nature reserve map
Contains derived data © Crown copyright and database right 2012.Ordnance Survey LA100019790.
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