The ancient oaks of Swell Wood are part of a continuous strip of woodland extending some 10 miles (15 km) along the ridge from Langport to the Blackdown Hills.
Between March and June nesting herons and little egrets provide our largest wildlife spectacle. Spring brings a carpet of bluebells to the woodland and in the autumn with the right conditions it is possible to see a fantastic fungi display. While throughout the year woodland birds such as nuthatches, woodpeckers and treecreepers can be seen feeding at the bird feeders in the car park.
There are no toilet or refreshment facilities available at the reserve.
Travel by public transport
If a flat walkway is essential, a request stop may be possible at the brown reserve sign. The reserve entrance is a short distance down the side road.
Car park is small and at the main entrance. Trails/ paths start directly from the car park.
There is one bike rack in the car park.
Path to main entrance
This is the path from the car park to the entrance of the Heronry Hide. It is a flat, hard standing path with raised wooden edges. In places there is small loose surface gravel. There can be vegetation overhanging this path.
Getting around inside
Visual Impairment - General Information
The Heronry Hide
The path from the car park to the entrance to the Heronry Hide is a flat hard standing path through the woodland with loose gravel surface. The light is dappled and there can be overhanging vegetation.
The Hide is covered and sheltered from the elements fully on three sides. The front is largely open to the elements for an excellent view of the woodland. There is no glass in the hide.
Inside the Hide the front is lowered on the right hand side to create a viewing area for wheelchair and mobility scooter users. The top of this shelf is 60 cm off of the ground. Other shelves in the hide are 80 cm off of the ground.
There are three wooden benches in the hide. All of the benches have backs but no arms. The long bench at the rear of the hide has an angled back to increase ease and comfort of viewing nesting herons in the tree tops.
Bird song and other woodland sounds such as rustling leaves can be heard from the hide. On occasion traffic can also be heard driving by on the nearby main road.
Getting around outside
Designated Walking Trail
Woodland Trail - circular route
The Woodland Trail is a circular route through the woodland from the car park. The path through the woodland is a compact dirt path with a loose surface - mostly small stones, leaves, twigs and other general woodland debris. Parts of the path is edged with low wooden board up to the picnic area, after the picnic area there is no wooden edging. The path from the car park to the picnic area is suitable for wheels. There are two covered metal drainage channels on this part of the path. There are no designated passing places. The trail at its narrowest is 110 cm wide to the picnic area, after the picnic area the trail is 100 cm wide at its narrowest.
There is overhanging vegetation in places and dappled light conditions throughout the trail. After wet weather conditions the path can be uneven, muddy and slippery and holes can appear in the path surface. There are both downward and upward sloping gradients to the path. Raised tree roots cross the path in places. There are piled fallen logs off to the sides of the path (not on the path).
After the picnic area there are two wooden benches along the woodland trail. These benches do not have backs or sides. The benches are not evenly spaced.
There is a bug hotel in on open area on the other side of the trail near the picnic area. There are loose materials inside of the bug hotel. There are raised tree stumps and uneven ground in the area where the bug hotel has been built.
The sounds heard in this area are mostly bird song and other woodland sounds.
Only assistance dogs are permitted on the Woodland Trail.
Designated Walking Trail
The Scarp Trail runs through the sloping woodland on the opposite side of the road from the RSPB Swell Wood car park. The Scarp Trail has almost 400 steps (at our count across the whole trail), up and down the side of the hill, and is unsuitable for wheels. The trail is an uneven, compact dirt path with loose surface litter and is very steep in places. There can be encroaching vegetation hanging over or growing at the sides of the path. At it's narrowest the path is 40 cm with sloping drops from the side of the path. After wet weather the path can be very muddy. There are piles of fallen logs off of the side of the path in places.
To access the Scarp Trail from the Swell Wood car park there is a wooden bridge with a railing one side. On the other side there is a drop of 80 cm's into a ditch. The bridge is 60 cm wide. This bridge brings you to the road you turned off of into the car park and this needs to be crossed and a steep wooden staircase climbed to access the Scarp Trail. The staircase has 24 steps and hand rails on both sides.
Many of the steps can be avoided by not walking the trail as a loop but as a there and back following the trail to where there is stile access from the bus stop on the main road. The majority (but not all) of the steps are on the loop part of the trail up and down the side of the hill in the woodland.
The ground slopes away steeply from parts of the trail. Some of these areas have post and rail barriers along the side and others do not have any kind of barrier.
There are two wooden benches on the Scarp Trail. They do not have backs or sides.
There are stinging nettles growing in some areas alongside the Scarp Trail path. Some fences and hedges have barbed wire used as one of their construction materials.
Sounds heard in this area are mostly bird song and other woodland noises. Traffic noises can be heard when walking on the path where it runs parallel with the Main Road. At the bottom of the trail noises from farming machinery can be heard when it is in use in the fields.
Dogs on short leads are allowed on the Scarp Trail.
Access to the far end of the trail can be obtained via a bus stop along the A379.
The picnic area is off of the side of the main path. There is one picnic bench in this area. It has a wheelchair or pushchair accessible space. There is low wooden railing around the back of the picnic area where the ground slopes away from the picnic area. There is a viewpoint looking out over the moors at the picnic area.
Customer care support
Customer care support
This is an unstaffed reserve.