Halwill Junction Nature Reserve
A disused railway line with a variety of habitats. It was purchased from British Rail in 1990.
Location and access: The nature reserve is in the village of Halwill Junction, on the main road between Okehampton and Holsworthy in north west Devon. There is one main entrance to this nature reserve. Take the A3079 for Halwill Junction, and when you reach the village centre turn right if travelling from the south, left if travelling from the north. Continue past the Junction Inn pub, and turn left into Beeching Close. Turn immediately right into a cul-de-sac (grid reference SS443 002). There is free parking in the Parish Hall car park to the right of the Junction Inn pub. From Beeching Close a path leads between the houses onto the reserve.
There is a main path with boardwalks which forks into two dead ends. It will take you 45 minutes to walk the length of the reserve and back.
The various physical conditions have produced different plant communities. Goat willow predominates on the railway line edges, but birch, alder, rowan, gorse and bramble are also to be found. The site also has good showing of broad leaved helleborine. In the wetter areas angelica, lesser spearwort, meadowsweet, ragged robin and lousewort are present and a good display of marsh orchids is best seen in July. The dry areas support heather as well as many mosses and lichens. The northern branch has a richer dry area with interesting hawkweeds, kidney vetch (rare inland) and plantain.
Look out for green woodpecker, tits and warblers in the scrub and willow. The wet areas have frogs and the broad-bodied chaser and golden-ringed dragonflies. Some interesting butterflies can also be seen at Halwill, such as the Wood White which has returned again after many years. You may even be lucky enough to see an adder basking in the sun.
Taken from the Devon Wildlife Trust