A superb National Nature Reserve created from old peat excavations
The Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve is an historic landscape. Part of the Avalon Marshes in the Somerset Levels, the region has changed hugely over time as sea levels have varied. Westhay Moor has, over the course of aeons, been covered by shallow sea and seen life as, variously, salt marsh, swamp, fen, woodland and the raised bog of accumulated peat. Neolithic farmers eked out a living in the Levels and, latterly, with better drainage, more of the area was successfully farmed and peat extracted. But what was once an industrial site of peat digging has now been transformed by the Somerset Wildlife Trust into a superbly rich wildlife habitat: a mosaic of lakes, reedbeds, island and stands of native trees. The walk explores some of the old droves and farmland before rounding off in the reserve – in which the entire day could be spent if you prefer not to walk too far. The reserve is well-catered for, with viewing platforms and hides, including a large family-friendly one funded by Viridor. Hobbies are here in quantity in spring. In 2017, a pair of Night Heron successfully bred here – a UK first. In winter the area is spectacular with Starling murmurations.