Chetsford Water

Chetsford Water

Habitat: Heather moorland valley with stream and scattered hawthorns and rowans


One of the best and most easily accessible moorland combes on Exmoor, with interest all year. Ring Ouzels are regular on passage in spring and autumn, though they no longer breed here.

In spring and summer a wide range of moorland species are present and often easier to see here than in other areas – a visit could easily produce Whinchat, Stonechat, Redstart, Grasshopper Warbler, Cuckoo, Grey Wagtail, Skylark, and Reed Bunting among other commoner species. Dippers occur on the stream that runs through the combe, but are easier elsewhere.

Winter is quieter on the high ground, but Hen Harriers are regular and a Great Grey Shrike has lingered here in some recent winters. Ravens, Buzzards and Peregrines are regular overhead all year, and Merlin occasional in winter.

From the bridge walk north up the road for a short distance – this improves your chances of seeing Redstart and Whinchat and avoids a marshy spot near the bridge. Follow the path down the combe, keeping an eye on the slopes either side, to where Ember Combe joins from the right. Here you can either retrace your steps or continue on a circular route up the east side of Ember Combe, then following paths back over the moorland to the road south of the bridge (this route involves three easy stream crossings).

The small, deep Nutscale Reservoir does not attract numbers of wildfowl, but Goosander and Long-tailed Duck have occurred.

  • Directions

    From Porlock take the A39 west up the famous Porlock Hill. After about 1.5 miles fork left towards Exford and Chetsford Water is about 3 miles along this minor road. Small parking area and limited roadside parking either side of the bridge at the head of the combe.

    For Nutscale Reservoir, park at SS865435 and walk down tarmac road (no vehicular access) to view.

  • Accessibility

    Open access all year. Rough, narrow and muddy tracks on heather moorland, so not suitable for wheelchairs or those with mobility/stamina issues. Some target species may be viewable from the road at the top of the combe. Nearest facilities in Porlock or Exford.

  • About the Site

    Much of this area is National Trust land

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