Stonehill Down Nature Reserve

A Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve high on the Purbeck Ridge with superb views, chalk grassland and lovely wooded escarpment


Stonehill Down: a different point of view - This is another Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve that offers you tremendous views as well as great wildlife! Set high on the Purbeck Ridge, when standing on top of the knowle you can see for miles across Poole Harbour and away to the far hills of north Dorset, in fact views through 360  degrees. In some ways you could consider this two reserves in one. There is broadleaf coppiced woodland on the nothern slopes of the Purbeck Ridge which are a must in spring with masses of flowers across the woodland floor. This is also the place to look for toothwort in spring around the base of hazel trees. Just a word of warning, this is pretty steep in places and can be heavy going! The Purbeck Ridge is, of course, primarily chalk downland and so the area of the reserve on the top of the ridge is rough pasture with some scrub. This is best in late summer and early autumn when the autumn ladys tresses, autumn gentian (or felwort) and nettle-leaved bellflower are in bloom. Unfortunately, a local farmer has long term grazing rights on the open downland and so the area is very heavily grazed which prevents it from reaching its full potential. There is little parking and there are some steep slopes so access can bit a little tricky and there are no visitor facilties but then, apart from us keen wildlife enthusiasts, there are few visitors so that does not matter in the slightest. Stonehill is always worth a visit but chose a nice day for the best views.  

Site Name Stonehill Down Nature Reserve
Protection Dorset Wildlife Trust
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Diversity High (150-200 species)
Map Reference SY925825
Site Habitats
Habitat Relationship
G1: Calcareous Grassland


W1: Broad-leaf Woodland


Site Diary
Diary Date Notes

Gloriously sunny up on the Purbeck Ridge but a bit breezy!

  • At last, I found one of my targets; the scarce Pale St John's-wort
  • Most of the usuals chalk downland flora present but not many butterflies
  • Stonehill is worth the visit just for the views