Know before you go
Parking informationParking for 1 car in pull in by wooden gate.
Grazing animalsSheep and cattle at all times of year.
Public footpath, part of the Anthill Trail, runs along bottom of valley. Public bridleway runs above the north west part of the reserve, along an old lane. Otherwise open access.
Access to upper parts through field gates, gates and stiles between fields & leading to West Milton. No surfaced paths. Moderate to steep slopes.
Enter the reserve through any one of the gates from the roadside, or over over the stile if coming from West Milton reserve. The reserve is mostly steep with uneven ground, so sturdy footwear is recommended. The Anthill Trail, which runs through the reserve, crosses some muddy gateways and spring lines, so please exercise caution at these points, you will also have to cross some styles to follow the trail. Around the stream the ground can be extremely wet.
Please leave all gates as they are found. They are sometimes tied open to allow animals access to different fields to access water. The site is grazed by livestock at various times of the year and please also be aware of the potential for picking up ticks. For more information on these general countryside hazards and other aspects of visiting our nature reserves please see our Visitor Information page.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitSpring and summer
About the reserve
South Poorton is a steeply cut river valley, with far reaching views of the surrounding countryside. Hedgerows host the enigmatic songs of yellowhammer and wistful calls of bullfinch. While the flatter parts of the site have undergone some agricultural improvement in the past, the steeper slopes and areas around the stream hint at what would once have covered much of the countryside in this area. Bird’s-foot-trefoil, mouse-ear hawkweed, field scabious and cowslip are amongst the species clinging to the drier slopes, while lousewort and Devil's-bit scabious are dotted in the damper areas.
Man's long influence on the land can be seen in the strip lynchets, relics of past farming techniques, that cross the upper fields. At the bottom of the valley you are immersed by the sound of trickling water, as a stream flows through alder woodland, supporting song thrush, nuthatch, chiffchaff and otter. The fields are fringed by thick, species rich, hedgerows, which burst with the songs of yellowhammer, goldfinch, and linnet, and supporting dormice.
This delightful nature reserve also includes the ant hill trail, a wildlife-rich circular walk which takes in two other nature reserves: West Milton and Loscombe.
Leave Bridport on the A3066 towards Beaminster, turn right just after leaving the town towards West Milton. Just before the village of West Milton take the left-hand turn onto ridgeback lane, follow along the lane for approximately 2.5km and the reserve is on your right hand side. Look for a slight pull in by a gate about half way along (space for one or two cars), or go through the easternmost gate (park just into the field, clear of the gate).