Habitat: Mostly deciduous woodland, particularly sessile oak and ash, with some pines and adjacent heather moorland.
Horner: SS898456 Webber’s Post: SS903439 Cloutsham Splash: SS897431 Pool Bridge: SS875447
An excellent and extensive area of hanging oak woodland, best in late April to early June, when singing Wood Warblers, Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts join a wide variety of resident woodland species. It is also good for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, which are elusive but easiest to locate slightly earlier in the year (late February to early May). Dippers and Grey Wagtails are regular on the two main streams, Horner Water and East Water. A few Willow Tits might still lurk unnoticed among the relatively numerous Marsh Tits.
The track up from the Horner car park is productive, but it does get busy especially at weekends. Quieter spots for the same woodland species are the stretch downstream from Pool Bridge on Horner Water or by the roadside along East Water near the ford at Cloutsham Splash; from here Cloutsham Ball is also a good area to explore.
Between Horner and Cloutsham is the viewpoint at Webber’s Post, great for viewing birds of prey. The pines, birches and scrub around the large car park host Crossbills, Siskins, Redpolls, Redstarts and Garden Warblers. Nightjars also occur (May to August).
It is easy to cover these sites in a circular route via Stoke Pero or Wilmersham Common, or to combine some of them with a visit to Chetsford Water (qv) or other high Exmoor combes. Usually it is best to visit the moorland combes first, as the steep-sided woodland combes can be quiet until the sun reaches into them later in the morning.
From A39 between Allerford and Porlock turn left to West Luccombe. Take right turn signposted ‘Filter Station’ for c.2 miles to reach Pool Bridge, or keep straight on for 0.5 mile to Horner car park. Carry on past Horner and turn right uphill to reach Webber’s Post; right fork from there goes down to Cloutsham Splash.
Open access all year. Extensive network of paths vary in quality though often uneven. Steep gradients in places. Most accessible areas for birders with mobility issues are Webber’s Post and along the road above Cloutsham Splash. Public toilets and tea room at Horner car park. Nearest shops etc. at Porlock.
About the Site
Much of the area falls within the National Trust’s Holnicote Estate.