South Somerset parks flying the flag as some of the UK’s very best green spaces

Yeovil Country Park, Ham Hill Country Park and Chard Reservoir in South Somerset have all been recognised by the Green Flag Award Scheme as one of the very best in the world.

Countryside Rangers from all three Green Flag award winning sites celebrate their success at the Yeovil Show.

The South Somerset District Council owned sites are among a record-breaking 1,797 UK parks and green spaces that will today receive a prestigious Green Flag Award – the mark of a quality park or green space.

This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

Yeovil Country Park is comprised of five main areas all of which have very different characteristics and land features. The landscape varies from Ninesprings which is the most heavily used and accessible section with its network of footpaths and waterways to the Riverside walk which gives the feeling of being away from the hustle and bustle of town as you stroll through woodland following the path of the River Yeo.

Award winning stall – The Countryside Ranger team are presented with a prize by Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh (left) and a representative from the Yeovil Show (2nd right) at the Yeovil Show for second place in the Trade Stand Category.

A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled South Somerset District Council to deliver a huge variety of community events and activities this year.

Speaking about the funding, Countryside Ranger Becky Russell said, “A new dedicated volunteer team have been progressing the restoration of the Ninesprings Valley Gardens and we have delivered many school sessions including, science, literacy and forest school for local schools, plus a series of free wildlife and craft events for local families running throughout the year. We are approaching the summer holidays and there is a wide range of public events for local families, supported by community groups and volunteers running across the district.”

Ham Hill Country Park is a nationally important geological area and is home to rare and exciting wildlife, plant life and has a fascinating history. You can explore the peaceful, leafy woodlands and glades, grassy meadows, impressive ramparts and iconic hamstone memorials and sculptures. There is extensive parking on site and loads of events to get involved with.

A member of the Countryside team demonstrates using a pole lathe.

Chard Reservoir is on the eastern edge of the busy market town of Chard. The reservoir site is a haven for birdwatchers, anglers and local walkers. The outer wildflower meadows are excellent examples of unimproved grassland awash with orchids and alive with insects in the summer months. The woodland that edges the reservoir itself is home to many species and is managed to maintain that diversity. The water is an attraction for a broad spectrum of birds and wildfowl including a strengthening population of grebes. The reservoir is stocked with carp and anglers pay a licence to fish.

Councillor Sylvia Seal, Portfolio Holder for Countryside said, “We are absolutely delighted to receive a Green Flag Award for our three countryside sites in South Somerset.

“We know how much quality green spaces matter to residents and visitors, and this award celebrates the dedication that goes into maintaining the sites to such a high standard.”

International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme.

“Each flag is a celebration of the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. The success of the scheme, especially in these challenging times, demonstrates just how much parks matter to people.”

The Countryside Rangers attended Yeovil Show over the weekend to showcase the fabulous countryside sites in South Somerset and offer free activities to children and families based around the wildlife and heritage of the parks. The rangers were delighted to receive a second place award from the Show team for the display at their stand.