I found a hidden Bristol nature reserve with medieval fish ponds, kestrels and water voles

It dates back to the Iron Age and is teeming with wildlife

Located in Winterbourne, close to J.K. Rowling’s home from ages 4 to 9, Monk’s Pool and Bradley Brook Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) date back to the Iron Age when the western slopes from High Street down past St Michael’s Church to Bradley Brook were believed to be used for farming.

The aim of Bradley Brook LNR is for multiple samples of native woodland trees to be grown in one site and to understand their relationship with wildlife.

This has allowed the local fauna and flora to flourish including the moorhen and water vole to breed along the banks, kestrels to nest nearby, cow parsley and teasels to grow rank and tall between May and July as well as spring flowers such as ragged robin and tormentil.

Next to Bradley Brook LNR, Monk’s Pool LNR has a complex of four interconnecting ponds which were believed to be used to stock fish in the Middle Ages by a rest house on the nearby Gloucester Road.

The ponds would have been connected by a series of channels and sluices to enable fish to be moved from pond to pond as they grew after probably being caught as young from the nearby River Frome or in Bradley Brook. Whilst the sluices are long gone, the channels remain to date.

Monk’s Pool received the name from the oral tradition that there was a monastery at Winterbourne which served travellers along the Old Gloucester Road travelling to or from Bristol. However, there is no written or archaeological evidence of such a building, and is, therefore, believed that the fishponds were instead built to benefit the Manor House or for travellers between Bristol and Gloucester.

The sites are managed by Winterbourne Countryside Group and Winterbourne Parish Council in partnership with Northavon District Council as part of the Community Forest.

Here are 18 photos from our visit to Winterbourne Local Nature Reserves:

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