Troopers Hill Urban Conservation Case Study

Troopers Hill is great for flying kites as it's always windy and free guided tours are run by the Friends of Trooper's Hill.

Overview

  • Opening hours: Open at all times
  • Admission is free.
  • No public toilets. The nearest public toilet is at St George Park.
  • Car parking available on the adjacent residential roads.
  • Parking on Malvern Road provides the easiest access for those with limited mobility. From here, you can reach the top of the hill by avoiding a steep climb.
  • Wheelchair accessible path at the top of the hill but the rest of the paths are unsurfaced and there are some sections of steep steps. Beware of steep cliff edges.

How do I get there

Troopers Hill is situated in St George, east Bristol, between the A431 Air Balloon Road and Crews Hole Road. These roads are linked by Troopers Hill Road, from which there are four pedestrian entrances on to the site. You can also cross Troopers Hill Field from Summerhill Terrace and Malvern Road.

Address
Trooper's Hill, off Trooper's Hill Road, BS5 8XX

Map
Google map of Trooper's Hill

Community support

The Friends of Troopers Hill are a group of local residents interested in protecting and enhancing the nature reserve. They have regular meetings and organise work days and events. New members are always very welcome.

History

In the 1600s, the hill was part of a large royal hunting forest. In the late 1700s, the tall chimney on top of the hill was used for copper smelting and later, in the 1800s, coal and fireclay were mined from the hill. The square chimney at the foot of the hill is the remains of an engine house used by the coal mine.

As development spread in Bristol, the steep slopes and tipped quarry waste deterred builders from developing the site and 1956, the council bought the land for the enjoyment of local residents.

Troopers Hill was declared as a Local Nature Reserve in 1995 in recognition of the wide range of wildlife present on the hill and its importance as a unique habitat in the Bristol area due to the presence of acidic soils.

Awards

Secondary succession in an abandoned car park

Stage 1 - pioneers

This open habitat is exposed to extremes of weather conditions, such as large fluctuations in temperature, exposure to drought and strong sunlight. Soil is present between the stony material but is hard and compacted. The first community to colonise the aggregate therefore contains plants and other organisms typical of a pioneer community like mosses.

Of particular interest is the presence of the blue green alga Nostoc. This species shows all the characteristics of a pioneer coloniser and can also fix atmospheric nitrogen. 

Stage 2 - grasses and flowering plants arrive

Mosses have increased in abundance. Their presence helps to retain water in the substrate and trap plant debris. More food is now present for consumers and decomposers so that the rate of soil formation is speeded up. Already a few grasses and seedlings of other flowering plants can be seen.

Stage 3 - grasses and flowering plants dominate

Grasses and other flowering plants are now dominating the site and shading out the pioneer moss species. Large perennials (plants which live for several years), like the thistles, are beginning to colonise the site.

Stage 4 - perennial plants dominate

Large clumps of perennial grasses which persist from year to year now cover the site and other perennials like the thistles are also common. The moss community is now made up of species adapted to living beneath the grass sward where, although there is less light, conditions are more humid and climatic conditions in general are less extreme.

Stage 5 - woody plants invade

Brambles have begun to invade the site from neighbouring disused areas. Their long arching shoots develop roots and form new plants wherever they touch the ground.

Stage 6 - trees

Bramble is likely to become the dominant plant on the site in the near future. If the site is left undeveloped for long enough trees (such as sycamore trees) may eventually colonise.

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