Bridgwater Bay NNR is a large reserve on the north Somerset coast.
Main habitats: Coastal
Area: 2559 Ha
Site map: Nature on the Map.
The site is approximately 5 km north of the town of Bridgwater and comprises the lower reaches of the River Parrett and its estuary, where it flows into the Bristol Channel. Along the coast the site extends north to the town of Burnham-on-Sea and as far west as the village of Lilstock.
View a map of the reserve: (129kb).
The reserve consists largely of intertidal mudflats with saltmarsh, sandflats and shingle ridges, some of which are vegetated. The Bristol Channel has the second largest tidal range in the world and this exposes huge mudflats and sand banks in the area.
The site has an important bird population with approximately 190 species recorded on the reserve. Large numbers of wintering waders and waterfowl visit the site and some species use the area as a stop-off on migration routes.
Vegetation at the site is an important food source for some birds and parts of the saltmarsh are grazed by sheep to maintain a palatable sward for wigeon grazing.
Wildfowling is permitted in some areas while the main body of the reserve is a wildlife sanctuary.
The reserve is accessed via minor roads from the A39 (M5). There is a car park near the reserve at Steart village and non-designated parking areas near the coastline.
The nearest train station is in Bridgwater served by First Great Western.
Bus services from Bridgwater are provided by First Group. Some routes run along the A39 and serve local villages. One of these is Stockland Bristol which is 2 km to the south west of Steart village.
The reserve can also be accessed via the River Parrett Trail which follows the river from its source to the Bristol Channel and passes through Bridgwater. Much of the coastline within the western part of the reserve is accessible via a waymarked public footpath.
There is an interpretative panel and a leaflet dispenser in the Steart village car park. From Steart a path runs along a shingle ridge to hides at the mouth of the River Parrett. A tower observatory also provides views of the reserve.
There is disabled access to the coastline by public roads and special arrangements can be made to provide disabled access to the hides.
The nearest toilet and refreshment facilities are in local towns and villages.