Porlock Ridge and Saltmarsh
|Site of Special Scientific Interest|
|Area of Search||Somerset|
|Area||186.3 hectares (1.863 km2; 0.719 sq mi)|
|Natural England website|
This site is notified for its nationally important active coastal geomorphological features. It is also nationally important for the salt marsh and coastal vegetated shingle habitats which occur here.
This site comprises a shingle ridge and associated saltmarsh hinterland extending for a distance of approximately 4 kilometres along the west Somerset coast, immediately north of Porlock village. The type of geomorphological development seen at Porlock has been noted for coastal shingle systems elsewhere (e.g. west coast of Newfoundland, Canada). Although other UK systems probably developed and are developing in a similar manner, Porlock provides the only fully documented example of a nationally important coastal geomorphological system which has undergone catastrophic failure and subsequent evolution following sediment inhibition and a great storm in October 1996 which caused the single ridge to be breached allowing the marsh to be inundated with salt water at New Works (the drainage facilities for the previous managed fresh water marsh). This storm created a brand new tidal lagoon, which since that storm is rapidly developing with creeks forming and land that was recently farmed pasture now tidal salt marsh.
A large part of this site is lower saltmarsh dominated by common glasswort (Salicornia europaea andannual) and sea-blite (Suaeda maritima). Also found here is the nationally scarce Babington’s leek (Allium ampeloprasum ssp. babingtonii). The site is visited regularly by grey heron (Ardea cinerea), little egret (Egretta garzetta) and shelduck (Tadorna tadorna). Small winter flocks of lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), curlew (Numenius arquata), and teal (Anas crecca) occur on the site as a whole. The site is also visited by a very wide range of migratory species.
- Coastal walk: Bossington from the National Trust
- English Nature Guidance for the Management of Coastal Vegetated Shingle Annex 01: Porlock