Updated: Nov 14, 2020
One word comes to mind every time I think about my visit here. Stunning.
If any site can capture the essence of Wiltshire this is it. 40% of all the worlds chalk grassland is in Wiltshire, and this site showcases why it is important to preserve and extend what is left of this natural habitat.
It is classic downland, set on rolling hills and as you walk through it the views sweep across the whole area. The steep slopes are terraced with strip lynchets, which tell us that this land has been farmed for hundreds of years. Wiltshire Wildlife Trust asked me to capture the site from the air to photograph the reserve and its adjacent land, as an opportunity has come up to extend the site and double its size, returning more farmed land back to chalk grassland.
My visit here was in Autumn, but I plan to return for a summer walk when the grasslands will be full of colour and wildlife, including butterflies and orchids.
In the far south west corner is a farm owned and managed by the trust, and much of the lower land is used for grazing cattle.
OS Map Grid Reference SU111256
Coombe Bissett is about 10 minutes drive from Salisbury on the A354. There is a good sized car park off Pennings Drove at the north end of
the reserve. With its hilly aspect and length, the reserve is a good place to walk.
Parts of it can get muddy underfoot during Autumn and Winter so appropriate footwear is recommended.
More information and a reserve leaflet with a map of the site can be found here: Coombe Bissett Down