7 The Bottoms and Summerhouse Wood

7

The woodland is situated on the left of the A369 between the junction of Rectory Road and St Georges Hill.

A wooden gate leads to a deeply rutted path with a steep bank on the left hand side.

In early summer this bank is abundant with wild flowers, including three species of Orchid. Butterflies such as marbled White and Argus Brown can be seen here on warm sunny days.

A steep sided stream divides the two woods. Summerhouse is on the left-hand side of the path.

Both woods have been quarried in the past yielding a crystallized stone with iron that has provided building materials for walls and some of the older local buildings.

Ruins of old mill buildings (one source suggests that it was a snuff mill) are in evidence across the stream in Hails Wood.

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A footpath follows the stream, which in dry summers is reduced to nothing more than a trickle.

The vermicular pathway is now all that remains of a clearing wide enough, in past times, for a van to supply goods to the occupants of a cottage, now derelict, at the end of the wood. The boxwood hedge planted by the tenants bears evidence to their dwelling.
The deep foliage in summer provides cooling shade and shafts of sunlight highlight the leaves and flora of the woodland (obscuring much of the light and imparting a rather gloomy feeling.)

The woods are at their best in Spring when primroses, sweet violets, wood sorrel, wood anemones, wild garlic and ground ivy abound.

In summer dogs mercury covers the ground and several varieties of fern. One can also find cuckoo pint, herb robert, and cranesbill. Herb Paris, a rare indicator of ancient woodland, also grows in one specific area on the Hails Wood side of the stream.

The woods are also home to fallow and seika deer, squirrel, fox, badger and numerous field voles who inhabit the banks of the stream.

On leaving the wood steep fields rise on both sides dominated by a magnificent oak tree. Crossing over the stile the fenced woods on the left show coppiced hazel.

A stile and gate leads into a large pasture field which is bisected by a spring fed stream. There is generally a small herd of Devonshire cows in this meadow.

Head up to the left to the corner of this field, over the stile and follow the bridle path which marks the boundary of Summerhouse Wood.

The bank on the right provides a good variety of spring and summer flowers, oxlips and marsh orchid amongst them.

The stile on the right at the end of the path takes you towards Failand.

The field beyond this stile is in effect a wildflower meadow which is cut twice a year for good quality hay.

Among the several variety of grasses are cut leaved cranesbill, trefoil, margaritte daisies and selfheal. The view from here towards Failand Church is particularly memorable.

Turn left at the top of this bridle path and a cleared swathe follows the edge of the wood round to your left.

A variety of cereal crops have been grown here in a somewhat desultory fashion intermixed with wild flowers. Poppies strike a key note here as in the field below. Hartsease, speedwell, scarlet pimpernel, and black meddic can be seen at the edge of the path.

An expansive view from here takes in the Avonmouth dock area, Shirehampton, Kings Weston and across to the Welsh hills and the Severn Crossing bridges.

Ravens are often seen here flying towards the coast.

Follow the path to the next stile.

The large field beyond this stile is unremarkable in terms of fauna although fallow deer can sometimes be seen close to the edge of the wood. In the early part of the year dandelions dominate the field. It is cut annually for straw.

Instead of crossing the stile into the next field turn right here and follow the path between the crops and the hedgerow which has recently been severely reduced. In the past linnets, goldfinches, and substantial flocks of reed bunting benefited from the protection that this hedgerow once offered.

Follow the path to a kissing gate which leads you into the next field.

These fields are used for crop rotation of cereal, clover and broad beans, planted for animal fodder and interspersed with a large variety of flowering plants. These include bindweed, chamomile, filed madder, poppy, knapweed and birdsfoot trefoil.

  

Perhaps the most interesting feature of this field are the deep margins top and bottom left untouched by the plough. These margins are a haven for wildflowers. Marguerites, cornflowers and sainfoin stand out amongst the Alexanders.

In certain years lucerne makes and appearance. Lucerne and sainfoin were planted for cattle fodder in the past. The recent return of these plants is indicative of the fact that seeds can lie dormant in the soil for many years and reappear when the right conditions enable them to flourish.

These margins are also haven for butterflies with marbled whites, common and holly blues, ringlet and comma taking advantage of the food source. In this field one is almost guaranteed to hear, if not see, skylarks in early summer.

  

A gate at the bottom of the field takes you out onto a lane which is almost impenetrable in mid summer.

Turn right and it eventually takes you to a narrow country road that leads to either Abbots Leigh or Failand.

A left turn takes you back to the A369. This lane has a lot to offer in early summer with song thrushes, warblers, robins and dunnocks using the close cover of the hedgerows while swallows and martins appear to use the lane as a race track in their pursuit of insects. Among the many plants filling the banks are ladies mantle, dyers rocket, greater and lesser knapweed, welted thistle, creeping cinquefoil and hogweed. Tormentil, selfheal, silver weed, germander, speedwell, herb robert. Not surprisingly this is also a good place to see butterflies, often in profusion.

avonmouth view

4 Comments

4 thoughts on “7 The Bottoms and Summerhouse Wood

  1. Keith Lewis has lived here over 16 years.and uses the area every day, believing that it is imperative to keep it as a green field site to ensure that we have access to the countryside.
    He has seen Bats, Badgers, Duck, Frogs, Foxes, and many wild flowers in the copse next to his house.
    He is concerned at the abuse of rectory Road using it as a short cut. rat run.
    He wants a fourth’bump’ in the road to slow traffic down.

  2. Peter and Irene Dowling have lived here for 30 years, use the area now and again and believe that it is very important to retain a s a green field site.
    The most important feature for them is that they live in a small village with a rural environment.
    There is a very old (300-400 years) in there garden and a well next door.
    Walnut Cottage is thought to have been a shop for the last 250 years.
    Next door is called ‘the forge’

  3. hi there, i have a question in regards to 7 The Bottoms and Summerhouse Woods, i’ve lived in easton in gordano for many years and was talking in the pub last week about the woods and we wondered who owed them? I’ve looked online at maps and knew there once was a working mill, but can not find out if the woods are private or public because the footpath is public, so does that included the woods. Any information would be great thanks

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