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Our work in the Mendip Hills

A view over a wall across lush green countryside
A view across the green countryside of the Mendip Hills, Somerset | © National Trust Images/John Miller

A lot of work goes into the management of the Mendip Hills. Our rangers help to make sure that they remain a special place for all visitors. If you see the rangers during your visit they are happy to answer any questions you might have. Find out more about the environmental work they carry out here.

Dry stone walling

All over the Mendips are dry-stone walls; we make sure they stay in good repair. A good example of one such project can be seen on Crook Peak, a wall that was completely rebuilt by some of our wonderful volunteers.

Fenceless grazing

Here on the Mendip Hills we’re leading the way in conservation grazing technology using virtual fencing for a herd of 60 cattle on Crook Peak. Using this technology means there’s no need for obtrusive fences in the commons, yet the cattle are still protected from busy areas. It also allows grazing to be targeted to areas where it’ll have the most benefit, meaning we can protect sensitive ecological features.

Each member of the herd wears a solar-powered GPS collar. If they approach the virtual boundary, they’re alerted by a musical tone and, if they persist, they’re deterred by a weak electrical pulse. The cattle are monitored by an independent vet and our grazier checks them every day they are out on the heath – their search is made easier thanks to the cattle’s GPS collars.

The Mendip Landscape Project is working to restore National Trust grassland on the Mendip Hills so that it is the best quality thriving grassland it can be - conservation grazing like this is one of the tools being used.

Cows grazing on Crook Peak
Volunteers working to remove scrub at the Mendip Hills, Somerset | © National Trust Images/Lauren Holt

Woodland management in the Mendip Hills

We also clear large areas of vegetation by ‘scrub bashing’. This involves chopping down gorse brambles and hawthorn so that the species-rich carboniferous limestone habitat can thrive once again.

Sometimes we don't do anything at all. To maintain the ancient woodland and encourage regeneration we leave any trees that have been blown over by storms. Dead wood provides fantastic homes for small creatures.

Protecting wildlife and birdlife in the Mendips

Swaling and woodland management are all part of our ongoing efforts to conserve and protect the Mendips’ rare limestone grassland habitat.

The wildlife here is diverse, particularly the birdlife. Look out for skylarks, meadow pipits and stonechats on Wavering Down, or nuthatches, willow warblers and green woodpeckers in Kingswood.

A brown and black Pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly perched on purple flowers
A pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly at the Mendip Hills, Somerset | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

Bats and butterflies

The spectacular caves in the Mendips are a perfect natural home for bats. If you wait around at dusk, you may be able to see them.

There is also a large array of butterflies to be found here, including the dark green and small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies.

We take part in weekly butterfly surveys over the summer months using a line transect. Butterflies are recorded if they are seen within five metres of the path. The data collected is sent to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) which is used to assess how species are doing on a national scale.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

Children running in the woodland in summer at Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire

Discover the Mendip Hills

Find out how to get to the Mendip Hills, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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