Moorend Spout (ST466715) is well known for its natural beauty, provided by the Alder carr, and with the additional attraction of a constantly flowing waterfall. This is a particularly valuable wildlife habitat: low lying and water logged, which is traversed by a well-used public foot path. The ‘Spout’ now appears to be ducted in a large field drain at about 3m below soil level that runs from the east with access at intervals, flowing into the western rhyne and providing the waterfall. The land is in the flood plain, well below the level of the river Land Yeo that forms the north boundary, while the rhyne to the south joins the river Middle Yeo, both flowing westwards towards Clevedon. To the north, the Tickenham Ridge forms a very attractive setting for this idyllic area. The designated Regional Wildlife Site (formerly known as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance, SNCI) of particular interest occupies about 1.5 ha (c.3 acres) and is bordered to the east by the (unmarked) north/south boundary about half way across the field, and to the west by a small rhyne.
Eastern end of the meadow. Photo © Christopher Smith
The rhynes to the west of the site are part of the Tickenham & Nailsea Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) (see attached file below). Part of this is incorporated into the banks of the rhyne just to the south of the waterfall (Natural England, SSSI areas 3 and 9). Access to the site from Nailsea is adjacent to one of the ditches having the SSSI designation and part of this is within the area of importance. The citation gives the following description ‘Low lying agricultural land with associated rhynes and ditches that support rich plant and invertebrate communities’. The present owners have respected the status of the site and it has been well preserved for its wildlife.
A botanical survey was made by the late Eric Smith and described
in his account ‘The Botany of Nailsea’ in 1983. He said -
“A mass of Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) grows near the pool; a grass, Water Whorl Grass (Catabrosa aquatica) and Great Pond Sedge, also Distant Flowered Sedge (Carex remota). In the water here, two pondweeds (Potamogeton natans and P. compressus) and Canadian Pondweed (Elodea canadensis) grow. A plant of Hemlock (Conium maculatum) grew several years ago near the footbridge leading to Stone-edge Batch and Brookweed (Samolus valerana) was seen in the stream between the track from Pound Lane and Moorend Spout.”
Sadly some of the plants that he recorded seemed to have been lost.
We were unable to find Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) but we have now reintroduced this. Moreover, the Southern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) has not been seen recently. However, about two years ago an orchid (not fully identified, but possibly the Early Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata), since the flowers were very pale, was found in the centre of the site. Lesser Water Parsnip (Berula erecta) and Water Figwort (Scrophularia auriculata) are still present. The marshy area has Lesser Pond Sedge (Carex acutiformis) and the Greater Pond Sedge (Carex riparia), Brooklime (Veronica becca-bunga) and Hemlock Water Dropwort (Oenanthe crocata). The rare Slender Spike Rush (Eleocharis uniglumis, ID subject to confirmation) grows in the centre of the field and the rare grass Catabrosa aquatica was found in the rhyne adjacent to the footpath that accesses the site from Pound Lane. This was lost when the rhyne was keeched in 2011. Many wet-woodland plants grow amongst the Alder trees in the area between the two rivers and the site is particularly favorable for Willows.
Two years ago the unusual Amber Snail (Succinea putris) with an almost spherical shell was found in large numbers climbing up the vegetation in the damp areas, and the Mullein Moth (Shargacucullia verbasci) caterpillar was feeding on the Water Figwort, a close relation of the Mullein that is its more usual food plant. The Banded Demoiselle (Agrion splendens) damselflies in the rhynes are especially attractive and many butterflies can be seen here in the summer. This area could be expected to support Otters and we have found spraint on the stone bridge.
It seems likely that there are American Mink and these aggressive predators
could prevent the establishment of Water Voles. The river has Signal Crayfish, and Three-spined Sticklebacks.
There is now a biodiversity action plan for the management of wet woodland and this is being promoted by North Somerset Council. Alder carr is now rare and supports a variety of invertebrate species not found elsewhere, and it is now on the UK List of Priority Habitats. Much of this habitat type has been lost due to the drainage of land, but where it still exists it is very important that it should be conserved. The site is clearly of great value for its biodiversity and for its aesthetic qualities.
Aims of Nailsea Environment & Wildlife Trust (NEWT)
NEWT (registered charity 1132465) has seven trustees with wide experience of managing nature reserves, and now owns six acres of land at Moorend Spout, purchased in December 2009 with financial assistance from YANSEC. Additional funding was provided by Nailsea Town Council, North Somerset Council and the Bristol Naturalists’ Society. In restoring the biodiversity of this site we receive advice from statutory bodies, including Nailsea Town Council, North Somerset Council, Natural England, The Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Board and Avon Wildlife Trust, and we have over 25 volunteers to help us with this work.
NEWT aims to restore the wildlife potential and biodiversity of the land at Moorend Spout that it owns. The site is close to both Tickenham and Nailsea, and it is traversed by a well-used public footpath linking the two communities. We have upgraded this footpath by the installation of a boardwalk, enabling access to the site when the ground is very wet. We hope to manage Moorend Spout also for the education and enjoyment of the local community, and we are developing links with adjacent schools in Pound Lane in Nailsea.
We aim to modify the management of this land in order to restore the plants that have been lost, and to encourage other wildlife to return to this area. The site is ideal for colonization by Water Voles and we already have several records of Otter spraint. We have planning permission to install several large ponds to encourage water birds and amphibians, with the first having been dug in summer 2013, and we hope to provide these with dipping platforms to enable children to investigate the aquatic life.
We have had much help from local volunteers in clearing the areas of bramble that were covering the location where the orchids were last seen. We have also removed some of the sedges to encourage the growth of other aquatic plants. Volunteers have been using scythes and a recently-purchased brush cutter to accomplish this work. We have been helped to clear the river of rubbish and removed a large derelict cattle feeder. Volunteers have felled Ash and Hawthorn trees from the Alder / Willow carr, where they were incongruous. We have already had assistance from the neighboring Fire Brigade who have watered the 360 trees planted by corporate volunteers who came from the accountancy firm KPMG in Plymouth and Reading.
The site will become an amenity for the community, providing access to the countryside within easy walking distance of Tickenham and Nailsea. It will be used for educational and recreational purposes, and interpretation boards and conducted tours will be used to demonstrate the local wildlife.
Our Management Plan for 2011-2021 sets out our proposals for managing the site over the next ten years.
Above - Map dated 1886.
Click on the links below to see -
1) Extent of the Regional Wildlife Site (in blue spots) The SSSI is marked in yellow. From the Adopted Local Plan 2007
2) View of Moorend Spout in Google Earth
3) Footpaths at Moorend Spout
4) The need to eradicate Himalayan Balsam
5) The history and geology of the wells, springs, rivers and water supply for Nailsea
Hydrology of Nailsea
6) Information on the wildlife around Nailsea