Orchids, butterflies, birds and stunning views what more could you ask for on a summer walk?
Dorset Wildlife Trust has launched a new circular self guided walk over some of the most beautiful and rare habitat in Britain. The 3 kilometre trail at Fontmell Down Nature Reserve is perfect for a walk this summer holiday, exploring woods, ancient chalk downland and stunning views.
The nature reserve features rare chalk grassland as well as scrub and woodland, which in turn provide homes to many butterflies, flowers, birds and mammals.
Fontmell Down, partly owned by the National Trust and entirely managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust, lies in the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The nature reserve features rare chalk grassland as well as scrub and woodland, which in turn provide homes to many butterflies, flowers, birds and mammals. Ancient chalk grassland is a supreme habitat for wild flowers in Britain, but it is now very rare, with around 80% lost in the last 70 years. Flowers you might see on a stroll across Fontmell Down include early gentian, pyramidal orchid, chalk milkwort, bird’s foot trefoil, scabious and horseshoe vetch, the latter an important food plant for the larvae of chalkhill blue and Adonis blue butterflies. Other butterflies you might spot include the silver-spotted skipper, only found on chalk downland in southern England. Skylarks, buzzards and ravens are among the birds to look out for as you enjoy the far reaching view of the Blackmore Vale.
The new way-marked trail has been created to give visitors a more intimate appreciation of the rich variety of flowers, butterflies, birds and animals that make Fontmell Down their home
Neil Gibson, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Mid-Dorset Team Warden said: “Fontmell Down is one of our true ‘jewels’. The new way-marked trail has been created to give visitors a more intimate appreciation of the rich variety of flowers, butterflies, birds and animals that make Fontmell Down their home. The circular walk will guide you through this mix of chalk grassland, scrub and woodland. Many thanks are due to Neal’s Yard Remedies for providing funding towards implementation of the trail, and the leaflet/map to accompany the walk.”
Start the Fontmell Down Circular Walk at the National Trust car park at Spread Eagle Hill at map ref. ST 887176 and follow the black arrows. Fontmell Down has rough and steep terrain, so stout footwear is recommended. The nature reserve is open access, but please follow the Countryside Code and beware of ticks during the summer. For a trail leaflet or more information, ring 01305 264620 or visit dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/fontmell to download your free copy.
For more information please contact Neil Gibson at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 07970 847346.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust is part of the Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership; connecting people with nature
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
Early gentian orchid - Dorset Wildlife Trust
Fontmell cattle grazing - Steve Oliver
Adonis blue butterfly -Ken Dolbear