RSPB Ham Wall
Ham Wall is a nature reserve that runs from Ashcott Corner just south of Meare under Stileway along the South Drain canal towards Glastonbury. Most of Ham Wall reserve is in the Meare and Westhay parish but much are in the parishes of Ashcott, Walton and Glastonbury too.
The entrance to the RSPB car park is at Ashcott Corner on the road between Meare and Ashcott. The old railway track is now a cycle track alongside the canal. This cycle track is also a public bridleway and so the entrance to the reserve is free. There is a car parking fee however.
The reserve has boasted a number of successes especially with birds such as the Bittern, Little Bittern, Marsh Harrier and Great White Egret. It is often in the news for unique breeding species, murmurations of Starlings in winter and the occasional visiting celebrity.
The Somerset Wildlife Trust has a number of areas all over Somerset but its largest reserves are at Westhay within the parish and Catcott which is only a few miles away in the parish of Burtle. Westhay Moor can be found by taking the lane off to the right at the corner just a quarter mile North of Westhay and then heading East for about a mile.
Another reserve formed from old peat extraction pits, it has many ponds with reedbed stretching across. A raised bog has been nurtured to grow specific endangered plants like Sundew which are unusual in the UK.
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Shapwick Heath is a large reserve run by Natural England which is the government body for nature. The reserve is cut in half with the old railway line which is now a cycle track and bridleway. The northern half of the reserve above the cycle track lies in the parish of Meare and Westhay, the southern half is either in the parish of Ashcott or Shapwick.
The entrance to their car park is at Ashcott Corner opposite that of Ham Wall and on the road between Meare and Ashcott. Since the cycle track is a public bridleway, the entrance to the reserve is free. There is a car parking fee however. Also, dogs are not permitted anywhere on the Shapwick Heath reserve.
Between this reserve and Ham Wall the Somerset Levels now has about a quarter of the UK population of the Bittern. It is another site which attracts a lot of visitors looking for the murmurations of Starlings in winter.