Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund
Download our project leaflet here
Coombe Bissett Down nature reserve is a 70.6 hectares chalk downland valley south west of Salisbury.
The Coombe Bissett Down Project (CBDP) is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The three year project has involved an initial land purchase that has doubled the size of the original reserve, and the start of a programme of work to revert one of the newly purchased arable fields back to species-rich chalk downland. A key objective of the project is an enhanced visitor experience, with new opportunities for people to enjoy and learn about this spectacular site. Visitors will be able to follow the new signs, and waymarked routes around the reserve and enjoy the views from a series of new benches.
In addition we have a programme of events that will take place throughout the year, from lambing sessions to art classes, Walking for Health to searches for shieldbugs.
From May to September there are wildflowers to be found, from cowslip and harebells to kidney vetch and Devils-bit scabious. These attract lots of butterflies including adonis blue and dingy skipper. Yellowhammer, skylarks and whitethroat can be heard singing from scrub or overhead and kestrels hover over small mammals below. Take a look at our seasonal spotters sheets to see which species you can find; Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter.
People have also had a close relationship with this site for many years. There have been artefacts from the Neolithic Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman period on Coombe and the surrounding downs. Steep slopes on the site are patterned by medieval terraces called strip lynchetts which were used for grazing. We have a flock of hardy Herdwick sheep and light footed Dexter cattle that crop the grass, maintaining the chalk downland habitat as a part of the reversion process. Why not try writing your own haiku poem to show us what the reserve means to you?
Visitors can come here to enjoy the sweeping views, bask in the beauty of nature and the sound of birdsong. To keep our birds happily singing we ask that dogs are kept on leads and any waste is cleared up. There are many lovely walks of varying difficulty around the site.
With the new NLHF supported project visitors have now got the opportunity to get more involved with the nature they come here to enjoy, this can be through surveying, our training and event days or volunteering in a number of roles. This large site couldn’t be maintained without a wonderful team of volunteers, please take a look at our volunteering page for more opportunities.
To keep updated with improvements to the reserve and to join our official Friends of Coombe Bissett Down group, email us at [email protected]
Picture: Cowslips (C) Barry Craske
Explore Coombe Bissett Down through a range of events including wildlife identification, guided walks, arts and crafts and much more.
Events are free to attend thanks to the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund. For more information and to book please contact [email protected]
As part of our Chalk Celebration Week, we will be offering the following events as online virtual events which you can tune into via our Facebook and YouTube channels for a live-stream.
The chalk - oceans and life in a Greenhouse World, 13th July 11am, now available on YouTube
Gardening with wildlife in mind, 14th July, 11am, now available on YouTube
Future of farming, 15th July, 11am, now available on YouTube
Folk tales from the chalk, 16th July, 11am, now available on YouTube
Nature photography workshop, 17th July, 11am, now available on YouTube
Botanical illustration, 18th July, 11am, now available on YouTube
Family yoga, 19th July, 11am, now available on YouTube
Wellness Walk Wednesday 2nd September, 11am - 12.30pm
Chalk Grassland Wildflower Identification Sunday 13th September, 9.30am - 12.30pm