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An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Westbury Quarry is a wonderful natural resource on the edge of the Mendip Plateau with stunning views across the Somerset Downs. The quarry lies within the Mendip Hills Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), one of 49 designated UK areas. This designation recognises that the Mendip Hills is one of England's finest landscapes. We believe the Westbury Quarry site is a particularly fine and important part of the hills.

The site owners are passionate and committed to protecting and preserving the site and believe they are merely the current custodians, which is why access to the site is restricted. One of the typical ironies of allowing keen naturalists and walkers to visit unique places, such as Westbury Quarry, is that their presence leaves a mark, waring paths, trampling plants, etc. 

After discussing with the Somerset Wildlife Trust and Natural England, they agreed to allow only pre-arranged supervised visits. The owners are keen to allow access to the site and encourage interested parties and schools to arrange visits, but they need to control this to protect the fragile environment.

The Quarry lies between 200 and 250 metres high on the southern flank of the Mendips limestone plateau. It is situated above the Somerset village of Westbury-sub-Mendip and below the village of Priddy. It sits between the geological 'Ebbor Thrust', which is in Dolomitic Conglomerate rock, and the South-western overthrust in 'Clifton Down Limestone', which, in turn, is underlain by 'Hotwells Limestone', and is offset by approximately 1 km southwards from the 'Priddy Fault'.

The site covers approximately 34 acres, including fine wildflower meadows, limestone karst and woodlands. As one might expect, the site is home to a diverse group of flora and fauna, and one member of the Somerset Wildlife Trust describes the meadows as the finest in the Mendips. Ironically, this is mainly due to the quarrying history of the site, which saw many tonnes of limestone dust spread over the fields. These activities downgraded the soil, making it the perfect environment for wild grasses, flowers and orchids.

The owner's dedication to the site's preservation and management is evident in signing a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme agreement with Natural England. This top-level achievement ensures that they will maintain the land in and around the Quarry to the highest standards, with guidance and support from Natural England. The owners have committed to a range of restoration and rejuvenation works, including repairing and rebuilding traditional stone walls, planting trees, and sustaining the limestone grasslands.

Part of the site is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is subject to various preservation orders. In the late 1960s, workers discovered the remains of a collapsed cave. This cave, home to many now-extinct animals, including cave bears, collapsed nearly 600,000 years ago, leaving significant deposits of their bones and teeth.

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