Who looks after Collard Hill?

Ian Clemmett – Head Ranger

Ian - Head Ranger

It’s curious how things can turn full circle – well very nearly. My background in nature conservation and countryside management has taken me on a journey from the sand dunes of South Devon to the wooded denes of north east England, the uplands of Scotland and back to the West Country – via a seventeen year stint in the Lake District. Now as Head Ranger for the National Trust I have the privilege of managing countryside from the North Somerset coast through the Mendips to the Polden Hills culminating, of course, with Collard Hill. The limestone grasslands, woodlands and wildflower meadows of East Somerset are a refreshing and stunning place to work.

Without doubt the return of the Large Blue to Collard has to be one of the jewels in the crown of nature conservation. It’s quite literally a global success. Collard Hill is now the second best place in the world to find this most precious butterfly. NT is proud to be part of the partnership responsible for managing the Large Blue in Somerset, working with others to ensure the Polden Hills continues to grow as a stronghold for Maculinea arion well into the future.

Ian Clemmett – Head Ranger

Hayley Dorrington – Ranger

I’m the Ranger for the Mendip and Polden Hills. I am responsible for the ‘ground work’ at Collard Hill. I  joined the Somerset countryside team in September 2011; after previously being based on the Golden Cap Estate in Dorset  doing a Ranger apprenticeship for three years. I really am passionate about my job and love the variety. I think the best part of the job is getting people out into the countryside. Seeing peoples faces when they see something for the first time or learn something new is second to none. Day to day, I work with volunteers looking after the hills- jobs range from drystone walling, scrub cutting with big bonfires and jacket spuds to taking children out on walks, building dens and generally just having loads of fun!  I annually look forward to the Large Blue season. Its not very often you get to help such a rare butterfly.

David Simcox – Large Blue Committee Project Officer

David Simcox

I am a Research Ecologist and have been fortunate to work on both the scientific and conservation aspects of the Large blue butterfly re-introduction project for over 30 years. Because we now understand the ecology of the butterfly it is proving an excellent species to study the impacts of climate change. Research feeds directly into the conservation and management advice that I give to partner organisations and their staff to help them create and maintain sites that can support Large blues and many other associated species. I work closely with Butterfly Conservation to obtain funding and run landscape scale restoration projects in the Polden Hills in Somerset and in the Painswick valleys of the Cotswolds. I have worked with National Trust staff at Collard for about 17 years and it gives me enormous pleasure to see both the butterfly prosper here and to watch the hundreds of visitors who travel each year to marvel at this iconic butterfly. The whole project is overseen by the Large Blue Committee with representatives from many partner organisations and my role as Project Officer is to deliver the committee’s objectives. I now work freelance and have my own company, Habitat Designs Ltd, with clients including Butterfly Conservation, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Oxford University, National Trust and Network Rail.



11 thoughts on “Who looks after Collard Hill?

  1. Hi Sarah,

    Any further sightings of Adonis blues at Collard Hill? We took some nice images of a single male on the 11th. A nice surprise amongst the common and large blues.


    Richard Banbury

  2. Thanks Sarah for all your help on Thursday. Great morning taking pics, and i got some good ones. I’m Zonda on ‘uk butterflies’ website.

  3. Hi Sarah,

    Afraid I missed meeting you on Tuesday – I’m just about to make my own trip for Heath Frit! One tip: most of the Large Blues were keeping their wings closed in the strong sunshine but could be persuaded to open them by moving my body shadow across them (very gently). I got a good topside pic this way – now on my website.


  4. Dear Sarah,
    Thanks for your help today. I stayed a lot longer than I should but it was well worth it. I will see if I can send a pic but they might be not as good as ones I have seen on here already.
    Hope you get the rain and hope you get good numbers of Large Blue.

    • Hi Brian,
      Glad you enjoyed the day yesterday, the site was a different and overcast place today! Luckily we’ve had some rain, and I’m hoping it’ll continue this evening.
      We enjoy seeing all the photos people send in, even those of us (me!) with wee cameras seem to get some good shots. Look forward to seeing any pics you’d like to share.
      Thanks! Christine

  5. Many thanks, Christine, for your help in finding the Wasp Orchids on a very hot slope on Sunday! I got good photos of the orchids and of a mating pair of Large Blues in the quarry, so was very satisfied with my visit.
    I’m not sure how to post photos here but will have some on my website soon.
    It was good to see how much the site has been improved since my first visit in 2004.


  6. Hi Christine thanks a lot for helping me and my wife and son Max (the one with the hat…) last Friday. I didn’t get any decent pictures of the large blue but it was still wonderful. Unfortunately I found that I had lost a shutter release for my Nikon camera, I don’t suppose it was found was it? Look forward to the next visit, hopefully I’ll get some decent shots and not lose any gear. Cheers Chris

    • Hi Chris,
      I’m very pleased you had a good visit to Collard Hill last week, you’ll just have to come back next year for some more pictures! As far as I’m aware nothing has been found, but I’ll check and see if anything has been put aside. I’ll let you know if there is.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s