THE OTTERHEAD ESTATE TRUST, a not-for-profit community group, manages the Otterhead Estate and Lakes Local Nature Reserve, in the Taunton Deane parishes of Churchstanton and Otterford, Somerset, close to the village of Churchinford (Churchingford), leased from Wessex Water. The neglected Victorian landscape, half formerly in Devon, includes the 'lost gardens' of Otterhead House (demolished in 1952) with terraced walks and drives as well as two former walled gardens. The most obvious features are the two remaining Otterhead Lakes and the River Otter but by taking into account the sites of former lakes and other water management features such as leats, the reserve can be considered to have the appearence of a very neglected one mile long water garden. The Trust aims to improve wildlife habitats and conserve garden plants and built heritage features as well as restoring where possible the designed landscape. The reserve forms only a part of the Wessex Water owned Otterhead Estate; it should be noted that the Estate Trust lease does not include the two remaining lakes, management of which is retained by Wessex Water.
Otterhead is within walking distance of the boundaries of East Devon, Mid Devon and South Somerset Districts, the three local authorities which, together with Taunton Deane Borough, include land designated as the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It can therefore be claimed with some justification that this free to enter reserve is the visitor attraction at the heart of the Blackdown Hills.
Parts of the reserve are successively carpeted with snowdrops, daffodils and other narcissi and bluebells. Primroses, foxgloves and marsh marigolds are present in large numbers as well as other native plants including various species of ferns.
OTTERHEAD ESTATE TRUST ANNUAL MEETING 12 March 2013 see Otterhead Estate News and Events Calendar on this website.
OTTERHEAD ESTATE AND LAKES FLICKR SLIDESHOW:
Down to the Lakes: the main drive to the lost Otterhead House November 2011.
November Gold: Royston Lake, Otterhead Estate 2008.
Philadelphus (Mock Orange) and nettles in the Lost Victorian Gardens at Otterhead July 2012.
Late flowering Rhododendron maxtmum from North America June 2009 at Otterhead.
Unknown Rhododendron with large globular flower buds in flower 13 June 2012 at Otterhead.
Bluebells at Otterhead 24 May 2012.
Rhododendron Hybrid 'Russellianum' ('Cornish Red') by the Otterhead Coach House public footpath 6 May 2012.
Marsh Marigolds by the Otterhead Bypass Leat 28 April 2012.
Rhododendron Hybrid 'Rosamundi' ('Rosa Mundi') at Otterhead 13 April 2012.
Snowdrops at Otterhead in previous years (as above) have been described as stunning; how did this year's display compare?
Down to the Lakes: the former main drive to the lost Otterhead House November 2011.
Otterhead Gold: Bracken and Larch Plantation across the Royston Lake November 2008.
Snowdrops at Otterhead March 2010.
Rhododendron Hybrid 'Rosamundi' ('Rosa Mundi') at Otterhead April 2011.
Rhododendron Hybrid 'Russellianum' ('Cornish Red') by the Otterhead Coach House April 2011.
Rhododendron Hybrid 'Baroness Henry Schroeder' at Otterhead May 2011.
Rhododendron Hybrid 'Lady Eleanor Cathcart' at Otterhead June 2010.
Rhododendron Islands in the House Lake at Otterhead June 2011.
The lost gardens of Otterhead House still contain remnant plantings of North American introductions, for example Rhododendron maximum, the State Flower of West Virginia, now believed to be rarely grown in the United Kingdom:
North American Rhododendron maximum selected form at Otterhead 25 June 2011.
Depending on the weather, the main flowering season at Otterhead is from January (snowdrops) until July (Rhododendron maximum). It is hoped that this website will carry up to date information concerning flowering at Otterhead which may help intending visitors from beyond the Blackdown Hills - please see NEWS.
Otterhead was designated as a Local Nature Reserve by Taunton Deane Borough Council in 2008 and was registered as a BBC Breathing Place (no. 33901) in December the same year. Entrust registration was completed in 2012 (no. 150021).
AN OTTERHEAD ESTATE AND LAKES FLICKR SLIDESHOW:
Copyright The Otterhead Estate Trust Company Ltd. 2011-2013
THIS WEBSITE IS PROVIDED FREE OF CHARGE BY VOICE as The Otterhead Estate Trust is a not-for-profit limited company. Please note that VOICE is in no way responsible for information on this website which is updated by the Estate Trust's Project Co-ordinator.
PLEASE CONTACT THE ESTATE TRUST BY EMAIL AS THERE ARE NO POSTAL FACILITIES AT THE RESERVE.