Coombe Bissett Project

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Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Coombe Bissett Down nature reserve is a 70.6 hectares chalk downland valley south west of Salisbury. 

The Coombe Bissett Down Project (CBDP) was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The three year project involved an initial land purchase that doubled the size of the original reserve, and started 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 was an enhanced visitor experience, with new opportunities for people to enjoy and learn about this spectacular site. Visitors are now able to follow the new signs and waymarked routes around the reserve, and enjoy the views from a series of new benches. A programme of events also took place from lambing sessions to art classes, wellbeing walks to searching for shieldbugs.

Download our project leaflet

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. Take a look at our seasonal spotters sheets to see which species you can find; Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter.

People have 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. Our flock of hardy Herdwick sheep and light footed Dexter cattle crop the grass, maintaining the chalk downland habitat as a part of the reversion process

Photograph of sheep at coombe bissett down

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:

Image of walking trails on a map of coombe bissett down nature reserve

With the NLHF supported project visitors had the opportunity to get more involved with the nature they came here to enjoy, this was through surveying, our training and event days or volunteering in a number of roles. This 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] 

Our Local Supporters receive regular updates about the nature reserve through the Coombe Bissett Down newsletter, and are the first to receive information about events and training opportunities as well as invitations to social events. 

To join our Local Supporters please contact [email protected]

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has a number of Local Supporters that support our nature reserves across the county. The groups are usually established with a mixture of Volunteer Reserve Wardens, regular volunteers, and those with other particular skills and interests, working closely with WWT staff. The groups vary in their offer but may assist the Trust with practical tasks, running events and guided walks, leading education sessions, and species survey and monitoring. Several groups also raise funds by hosting talks or applying for small grants to support specific projects that the Trust has identified.

The Trust is now in the legacy planning phase of the National Lottery Heritage Fund project at Coombe Bissett Down, which will draw to a close later this spring. We are starting succession planning and are particularly looking for Supporters with the skills and experience or interests outlined above, who could play a key role in supporting our Group into the future. Please find a link to the Terms of Reference below, and let us know if you would like to help. 

Terms of Reference: localsupporterstermsofreference.pdf 


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