Burlish Top Nature Reserve

Burlish Top is located at grid reference SO 80655 73484. Access can be gained via The Kingsway (DY13 8NA), where there is a small car parking area, or Gould Avenue (DY11 7HD). The nature reserve is approximately 35 hectares (86 acres) in size.

The dominant habitat is heath and acid grassland, surrounded by oak and birch scrub. The acid grassland has been surveyed by many professional bodies, and Natural England rated it as the best quality acid grassland in the county.

Wildlife on the site is typical for what you would expect on a heathland site, while reptiles are scarce due to the levels of disturbance from the public; however common lizard, grass snake and slow worm have been seen. There are many notable species of solitary bee and wasp which make use of the bare sandy soil, as do unusual heathland specialists, the green tiger beetle. The open areas are also utilised by a variety of ground-feeding birds such as green woodpecker and as nesting sites for rarities like woodlark.

There are a few small pools on-site; one, in particular, supports a good breeding population of smooth newt, common frog, various dragonflies, damselflies and great diving beetle.

Although traditionally a heath, this has given way in the main to gorse and broom scrub. There has been an increase in the density of rare grey hair grass after scrub clearance carried out in previous years.

The area has an interesting history, with the site being used as a World War II American Army training and hospital camp. All that remains from those days are concrete paths and some foundations from the original buildings. Much of this has been highlighted along a waymarked ‘History’ trail. The website ‘Burlish Camp’ has more on the history of the site.

In addition to the history trail, there are 3 other trails around the site, including 2 easy-going routes, which take advantage of the sites historical concrete tracks, and a heathland circular, which also incorporates much of the Rifle Range SSSI. There is also a specially designed fitness trail (for walkers or runners) with stations along the way to take you through warm-ups, techniques for the route and cool downs, this project is part of a Lottery Grant from Sport England.

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Bulrush Top Nature Reserve, Poto Credit Larry Brangwyn
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