Weirfield Riverside Local Nature Reserve is made up of a strip of land next to a footpath alongside the River Tone in Taunton. The land was originally part of the Grand Western Canal. It has mixture of habitats including alder and willow woodland, bramble, scrub and rough grassland. Bluebell and stinking iris can be found in small patches. The site is often partly flooded and the wet areas contain species such as hemlock water dropwort, and yellow flag. The river corridor is important for mammals and birds. Otters, bats and kingfishers have been seen here.
Various schemes were proposed at the end of the 18th Century to connect the Bristol and English Channels with canals. Such connections would have avoided the hazardous sea journey around the coast via Lands End. In 1796, an Act of Parliament was passed to build a canal between Topsham and Taunton. However because of the war with France and economic difficulties, construction did not begin until 1810.
The length from Lowdwells to Burlescombe and the branch to Tiverton were opened in 1814, but the cost had been higher than expected so it was not until 1831, after the opening of the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal that works started on the Lowdwells to Taunton section of the canal. As originally authorised, the Canal was to have joined the River Tone in the vicinity of French Weir. In 1834, a direct link from Frieze hill to the River was cut and this is the section that formerly passed through the Weirfield Riverside site.
Please note: We have used the nearest post code to locate this reserve, it may not pinpoint the site accurately.