I had mixed feelings when I looked into visiting this site, as it looked like a tiny slither of land with no footpath access which had been turned over to grazing. I had an awful feeling that this might be a location I would find nothing of interest to write about or photograph.
Thankfully, I was wrong. Very wrong.
Firstly, I was surprised to find that the parking area at the entrance was right next to an army base, where there were multiple soldiers milling around carrying assault rifles.
Secondly, I noticed that there was a path of sorts which was leading well into the distance, and the far side of the reserve was at the top of a steep hill from which there were bound to be excellent views of the surrounding countryside.
There were cows grazing on the slopes of the down which demonstrated that there must be human activity on site, but this place felt really wild and
untouched. We walked along the bottom of the slopes and then climbed the steep hill at the end, and on our return followed the boundary fence at the top of the hill. On a bright summers day, the view across Knook Camp and the Wylye Valley was simply stunning.
On the drive home I contemplated how there cannot be many military sites in the world where the public can simply park up and go wandering in the adjacent hills with a camera. This location gives a flavour of the military presence in this part of Wiltshire and takes you right up to the edge of the live firing ranges of Salisbury Plain.
Dunscombe Bottom is a few miles outside of Warminster, just off the A36 on the way to Salisbury. Turn left at Knook Camp and the small parking area is immediately after the camp on the left hand side. There is a Wiltshire Wildlife Trust sign at the entrance so you will know you are at the right place.
More information and a reserve leaflet can be found here: Dunscombe Bottom
In the summer of 2018 a new heard of young Dexter cows was introduced to the reserve, and I have volunteered to check up on them throughout the summer along with 4 other lookers. This means I will be spending a lot of time at the reserve and exploring what it has to offer in great detail.