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Townsend Nature Reserve

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Once a quarry but now a Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve on the southern hills overlooking Swanage Bay.


Townsend Nature Reserve

Post date: Sunday, 28 September, 2014 - 00:00

It seems to me Townsend is something of a forgotten place. Tucked away on the high downs of the southern edge of Swanange, Townsend was once a quarry but that was abandoned some eighty years ago and there is little sign of that now. The only people I seem to see when I visit are local people walking their dogs (and, sadly, lots of dog mess can be seen too!). You get superb views over Swanage Bay towards Ballard Point and beyond as well as a stunning array of flowers.

This is limestone grassland at its best and as it was once a quarry the resulting thinned soil as a result of the stone extraction means that the grass is less vigorous than it might otherwwise be and so there is an abundance of flowers. In spring and early summer there are orchids and cowslips everywhere; indeed I understand that seven species of orchid have been found on the site which is designated a site of special scientific interest. Amongst the orchids look for the early spider orchid, a national rarity and a speciality of this part of Dorset. The yellow meadow ant hills are a sign that the ground has not been disturbed for a long time and that is where to look for dwarf mouse-ear, rue-leaved saxifrage and hairy-fruited cornsalad, all three species are also national rarities.

Parking can be a problem though but as there are not that many visitors to the reserve you can usually get away with parking in the road alongside!

I really recommend a visit to Townsend, especially in early summer; it is a Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve.


The information about this site has been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Fact File Directions Aerial View Some Charts Some Photographs Species List Species Records Original Tweets Guidance Notes