We are working to preserve and protect limestone grasslands at Charmy Down near Bath.
About Charmy Down
Close to the site of our former reservoir and Chilcombe Bottom Nature Reserve, Charmy Down supports a range of specialised plants and insects not found in other grasslands.
However dense scrub had grown across the site in the last 50 years, threatening this rare habitat and impacting the ability of species, such as the clustered bellflower, wild thyme and bee orchids to flourish.
What we're doing at Charmy Down
Our programme, which got underway in September 2022, is seeing the scrub cleared back to the levels found in the late 1970s.
This will allow these plants and insects to re-establish over the hillside, with certain areas also re-seeded with a local grass wildflower seed mix.
While mature woodland areas will not be cleared, woodland management is taking place to help achieve the desired mix of open and densely vegetated habitats.
Hedge laying and wood chipping will also take place over the autumn and winter seasons through to 2024.
Fencing and water troughs have been installed at the site, with grazing cattle helping to manage the open habitat.
We have also refurbished the flight of steps on the public right of way that bisects the site.
What we have achieved at Charmy Down in 2023
Cleared 5.3 hectares of bramble and thorn scrub from the valley slopes, reseeding the areas with a seed mix harvested from less than two miles away.
Installed 3.8km of long-lasting fencing, along historic field boundaries, allowing greater control of grazing across the site, to benefit wildflower establishment and improve the ability of the cattle to control scrub regrowth.
Installed four new water troughs to enable the movement of livestock through the site.
Brought back over 700 metres of hedgerows into active management through coppicing, hedge laying, and gapping up.
Carried out repair work to a dangerous flight of steps on the public footpath that leads from Chilcombe Bottom to Charmy Down airfield, enabling visitors to enjoy the site safely.
Next steps at Charmy Down
In 2024, we will monitor the site and deal with expected flushes of weeds such as hemlock and thistle and patches of scrub regrowth, as well as monitoring the uptake and success of the seed mix.
We will also establish the appropriate grazing regime across the site to manage the transition back to priority grassland habitat sustainably.