Our Reserves:


Cobthorn Reserve in Congresbury is being created especially for bats. There are only about 10,000 Greater Horseshoe Bats in the UK - and that is the largest population of them anywhere in the world.  Amazingly up to a thousand of them are living close to Congresbury!


Panorama by Peter Speight © 2022

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The Cobthorn Reserve in Congresbury was launched with an open day in May 2022 with almost 200 local residents turning up to see what YACWAG was doing with the reserve.

Furnace Way (which adjoins Cobthorn Way leading to Wrington Lane) and its amenity areas have been built over what used to be private farmland where Greater Horseshoe bats hunted for their food, especially in the summer when young bats need to learn to hunt insects near their roost. Because the Greater Horseshoe Bat is rare and protected, the developer, Strongvox, has given the land to YACWAG through the planning process. The nature reserve is being created to compensate for the land lost to development and will be managed as a nature reserve forever. YACWAG will make sure the field is managed in the best possible way for the bats and it will be a nature reserve forever.

The Greater Horseshoe Bat’s preferred landscape is one with grazing animals, tall, wide hedges and scattered flowering trees. This kind of management is good for many species and we know that many types of bat already use the field. YACWAG will follow a closely monitored management plan to make sure we maintain the right conditions to support Greater Horseshoe Bats.


YACWAG is carrying out regular surveys for dormice, birds, bats and flora. This has in the first couple of years involved a dozen volunteers and another dozen local members are watering the trees planted by National Grid in 2022. These trees formed part of the mitigation measures for the building of the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station. They include oak, disease-resistant elm, alder, black poplar and six apple trees to form a small orchard.

YACWAG is grateful for the help of Jo and Andy Milward who provide the grazing animals for Cobthorn Reserve. A mixture of sheep and Dexter cattle produce the dung which is vital for different species of dung beetles on which the Greater Horseshoe Bats feed.

People can see the views to the south and look into the nature reserve itself from the public footpath accessed from Cobthorn Way which runs along the northern edge of the reserve, and also, outside the western boundary, the surfaced footpath which leads to the river.

Cobthorn looking towards Furnace Way
View from Cobthorn looking south
Greater Horseshoe Bat
(photo by Daniel Hargreaves)

Cobthorn Paddocks

In spring 2023 an adjacent three-acre field was purchased to extend the Cobthorn Reserve. This ’T-shaped’ field appears on old maps as two - and further back in history, three - small narrow fields. On the deeds the field is referred to as Cobthorn Paddocks, so with the intention to reinstate the old boundaries, YACWAG decided to keep the historic name.

Without the bequest from Mrs Irmgaard Owen of Yatton, the purchase of this field would not have been possible. YACWAG is very grateful for the legacy she has provided as the land will be in charitable ownership in perpetuity and managed for nature forever.

The exceptionally diverse old hedges and the grassland will be managed in a generally nature-friendly way, but with a special awareness of the needs of bats.
Midsummer 2023 in Cobthorn Paddocks (looking south)


Trees for Climate

"Trees for Climate" was a YACWAG event held on Saturday 13th January 2024 at the Cobthorn Reserve. Volunteers planted 42 trees over the course of the day. Sam Roberts documented this event and made this short film. 

Livestock on Cobthorn Reserve

Footage of livestock, including Dexter cattle, from March 2022 at YACWAG's Cobthorn Reserve, Congresbury, North Somerset.




North Somerset