On day 16, I got up bright and early (well, 10 o clock, it was a Saturday, and lie ins are hard to come by with two rescue pets!), to make the most of Cardiff’s great location for travelling around the South West of the UK – and we set off to Glastonbury!
After a quick research, I discovered the area was home to a wealth of nature reserves including Ham Wall and the Avalon marshes. But a gloomy, drizzly ‘rain mac’ day meant we decided to stay close to cover and explore the town and it’s natural spaces, which were plentiful enough to fill a day with.
First stop was climbing the mystery-shrouded National Trust owned Glastonbury Tor – a place of pilgrimage for some, and a place to live for our wilder neighbours. My mission was to spot the Large Blue butterfly, an endangered priority species only found in a very few select places in south west England, including a meadow by the Tor. Sadly the rain put a stop to us finding any flying that day, but there was plenty of other wildlife to keep us on our toes.
Thistle is currently in flower, giving a purple polkadot on green blanket over the hillside as we walked up to the monument at the top. The long grass alongside the path provided a safe place to hide for meadow brown butterflies who were sandwiched between the long blades. These are much more common butterflies, with a golden orangey brown appearance and a single dark spot on each wing.
Back in the town, we headed to the historical Glastonbury Abbey, set in 36 acres slap bang in the middle of the high street. A tranquil retreat for man and wildlife, the grounds were filled with fascinating ancient architecture and ruins, including the grave of King Arthur. The grounds contained a wildlife walk, cider orchard and ponds, plenty of habitat for any wild creature looking for a royal home!
The abbey website has it’s own wildlife blog where you can see what you might expect from a visit, but when I walked round, there were plenty of blue tit juveniles making a racket, a large mob of jackdaws, and house sparrows busily collecting food from the bird feeders. I most enjoyed watching one of our flashier summer visitors, the swallow, skimming the grass for insects – they’re so fast and agile! A real treat to watch (but really hard to photograph!).
The pond played host to a small family of Moorhens who were skittishly weaving through the reed beds, and plenty of pond related insects, of which I don’t know a huge amount about! One for the guide book list (that list is getting pretty big…).
Overall, Glastonbury is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a peaceful weekend amongst wildlife, ancient ruins and a quirky town. And there are some real gems to find too like the Large Blue! If you have more time, there are the other reserves in the surrounding area to check out too – this is something I plan on doing soon. There’s certainly plenty to explore in Somerset!
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