Sovell Down

Sovell Down © Andy Fale

Sovell Down © Andy Fale

Sovell Down © Jane Franklin
Marbled White at Sovell Down © Andy Fale

Marbled White at Sovell Down © Andy Fale

An oasis of chalk grassland, bordering on an ancient routeway


Gussage St Michael
BH21 5HQ

OS Map Reference

A static map of Sovell Down

Know before you go

3 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

Limited roadside parking.

Bicycle parking


Grazing animals

Pony grazing at some times of year.

Walking trails

Grassland is Permissive Open Access. Links to public rights of way along the Ackling Dyke and across the reserve towards Gussage St Michael.

Please click here for more information and guidance about dogs on DWT nature reserves.


Difficult access for those with limited mobility - rough, grassy track goes uphill to access reserve. Currently access to open areas only over stiles. Rough track from stile across bottom of larger field. Otherwise slopes and uneven ground.

A rough grassy track follows the course of the Ackling Dyke up to and along the edge of the reserve. The access point from this into the chalk grassland, is as the track branches off to the right by the reserve sign, with a rough track along the bottom of the first field. Elsewhere the ground can be a little rough and uneven under foot and is variously sloped so you will need to take care as you work your way between the fields.

Ponies graze the site at times and there may be ticks on site. For more information on these general countryside hazards and other aspects of visiting our nature reserves please see our visitor information page.


On a lead
Please remove all dog mess from site. See above for more information about dogs on nature reserves.

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

Spring & Summer

About the reserve

A small oasis of flower-rich grassland and scrub offering shelter for wildlife in an intensively managed agricultural landscape.  With its two fields of unimproved, chalk grassland, scrubby patches and thick hedgerows, this reserve is a key linking point for wildlife in an area of improved grassland and arable fields. As well as providing a permanent home to species such as grizzled skipper, marbled white, bullfinch and yellowhammer the site provides foraging and commuting for birds and bats passing through the area, with recent surveys showing that greater horseshoe bat flight routes pass through the site.

The downland is grazed to encourage an open sward with an annual programme of rotational scrub cutting to stop it from smothering the grassland. There are at least four species of rose in the scrub and a range of typical chalk grassland flowers throughout the slopes; including cowslip, bird's-foot-trefoil, greater knapweed, clustered bellflower, rock rose and wild basil.

A Roman road, the Ackling Dyke, connecting Exeter with London, runs along the length of the reserve, while there is evidence of ancient ditches and chalk extraction over the rest of the reserve, so there is plenty of history to explore, as well as the wildlife! 

Useful Information

Heading towards Salisbury on the A354 from Blandford, turn right at signpost to Gussages/Horton. After 1/2 mile turn left to Gussage St. Michael.  At junction in village turn right.  The reserve is approximately 1/2 mile along road.  Park on roadside by water pumping station & take footpath uphill to the reserve.

Contact us

Environmental designation

Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI)
Sovell Down Nature Reserve Map

Sovell Down Nature Reserve Map