In 2012 the County Council decided to sell 400acres of land on Quantock Common, which they had owned for many years. Friends of Quantock led a campaign to ensure that the land remained in public ownership, rather than being sold to the highest bidder, and the council agreed to transfer the land to Friends of Quantock for a nominal £1 to hold on behalf of the people of Somerset.
The land is in two blocks, both on the main hilltop and forming part of the designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Over Stowey Custom Common lies beside the road from Crowcombe to Over Stowey and extends from the cattle grid at the top of Crowcombe Hill to the one at Friarn above Over Stowey. It is a long narrow strip of open common between the road and Great Wood. The western half is largely open and includes the track leading down into the top of Ramscombe. In the centre is Dead Womans Ditch, an important prehistoric monument of a bank and ditch which crosses our land from north to south. Adjacent to it is a car park. The eastern end is increasingly wooded with another small car park at Sandybeds.
Halsway Hill lies above Halsway Manor on the western side of the main ridge. Along the ridge track Halsway Post marks the eastern corner and the boundary then follows the track to a little short of Bicknoller Post where there is a standing stone beside the track. To the west the land drops down Paradise Combe to meet the enclosure boundary that climbs round behind Halsway Manor and drops down again into Halsway Combe, which forms the southern boundary. It is all open heathland with a mixture of bracken, whortleberry and heather, grazed by sheep and ponies belonging to the commoners. There are several bronze-age barrows on the top of the hill from where there are wonderful views to the south and west.
The society derives no income from the land as the grazing rights belong to the commoners, an ancient practice going back hundreds of years, whereby farms around the base of the hill have rights to pasture their stock on the hill. The commoners are responsible for maintaining the grazing but the society has to find money to manage the woodland, heritage monuments and rights of way. We have a team of observers who walk the land to ensure that it is in good order. It is a responsibility that we are proud to shoulder on behalf of the many people who enjoy the hills.
The study is will form a reference point against which any changes to the plant cover and habitat can be measured for many years to come. Louis looked at all the available historical data before carrying out detailed and mapped on site surveys on the 15th June and 2nd September 2018.
We feel that this is an important achievement. The Quantocks SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) is cited as one of the most extensive areas of semi- natural habitat in South West England. It is a fragile and unique piece of natural history.
It is hoped that, in the future, we may be able to work with some of the specialist groups coordinated by SERC to carry out, for example: botanical survey of the Flush communities; an invertebrate survey focusing on species recorded historically; a bird survey focusing on species recorded historically; and a reptile survey to determine population density and species distribution.
View the full Survey Report
To promote for the benefit of the public the conservation, protection and improvement of the landscape and natural environment of the Quantock Hills