Troopers Hill is managed in accordance with a plan agreed between Bristol Parks and Friends of Troopers Hill.
Thanks to National Lottery players we received funds to review and update the management plan and get advice on future habitat management as part of our Ways to Nature Project.
The final version of the plan can be seen via the links below.
The plan was signed by Richard Fletcher, Parks Services Manager for Bristol City Council and Susan Acton-Campbell, Chair of Friends of Troopers Hill at an event to celebrate the completion of the National Lottery Heritage Fund elements of our Ways to Nature Project on 25th January 2020.
Following advice from Avon Wildlife Trust, the new plan covers a 10 year period. The overall aims and objectives remain unchanged from the earlier plans, but some of the detailed recommendations have changed.
2019 Management Plan
2019 Management Plan, Work Plan
2019 Management Plan, Compartments site plan
The Plan is a 'living document' that will be reviewed annually as part of the process of producing an annual action plan, allowing revisions to be made as financial resources are identified and in response to changes or any ecological surveys.
All of our projects and work on the Hill are in accordance with our vision for Troopers Hill which is shared by Bristol Parks and quoted in the management plan, it is:
To enhance the use of the site for recreation by the local community while protecting its natural beauty, rich bio-diversity, history and geology.
The most important habitat on Troopers Hill is the acidic grassland and heathland, this covers the central area of the site and is the core of the reserve and the reason it was created.
Both acidic grassland and lowland heathland are UK priority habitats in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) and together with other 'Species Rich Grasslands' their protection is also one of the aims of the Bristol Biodiversity Action Plan.
This work is even more important at a time of an Ecological Emergency
The changes in the habitat on Troopers Hill have been monitored since 1994, through a regular photo survey and this provides good information on how the habitats are changing.
Both the 2012 and 2007 Management Plans were put together with advice from Bristol Parks Natural Environment Team and other naturalists in Bristol. In 2007 all agreed that the priority is for this core habitat to be protected and where possible to be restored to areas where the surrounding scrub and woodland had encroached over the previous twenty or more years (Photographs of Troopers Hill in the 1960s).
To achieve this aim it was necessary to remove some of the trees and scrub that had grown in that time, this work was was managed by Bristol Parks and carried out in the winter to avoid the bird nesting season.
The work set out in the 2019 & 2012 plans continues this principle, there are now few new areas of trees or scrub to clear, the priority is to prevent scrub from re-establishing in areas previously cleared.
Areas of scrub are being maintained around the outside of the site but these are being managed to prevent them becoming woodland. Between the scrub and the grassland and heathland on some parts of the site are areas of broom. Troopers Hill is the only site in Bristol where broom grows in such profusion.
As the hawthorn and bramble has been pushed back broom has re-established itself in some of these areas. However, the broom also needs to be controlled to avoid it spreading too much into the heathland. Some areas currently covered in broom will then be returned to grassland and heathland. This is a reversal of the natural progression that has occurred over the last 20 years where bramble has choked areas of broom and then hawthorn has grown amongst the bramble.
The heathland is susceptable to fire in the summer, while this can lead to natural regeneration uncontrolled fires are a problem on such a small site in an urban area.
Barbecues are one cause of fires and Friends of Troopers Hill urged the Council over many years to introduce a byelaw to ban their use on the Hill. These byelaws were introduced in April 2017, see www.bristol.gov.uk/byelaws and our webpage explaining why this is necessary.
At the north-east corner of the site, adjacent to Greendown, there is richer soil and an area of grassland that needs an annual cut.
The hedge here was planted in 2006 and is now cut each year by a tractor with a flail.
The day-to-day management of Troopers Hill is undertaken by Bristol City Council's 'Parks
and Estates Service', often refered to as 'Bristol Parks'. The work is carried out by the East Bristol team with the Area Park Manager for our part of the city having overall responsibility.
It is important that there is an element of discretion in the level of maintenance carried out on the Hill to ensure that it maintains its natural feel and does not become overly formalised or manicured.
While some work, such as keeping paths clear, is carried out during the summer much of the work to keep the scrub under control has to be done during the winter when there are no nesting birds. This 'winter work' can seem very harsh but it is necessary to protect the hill's unique habitat.
The details of the work are agreed each winter between Bristol Parks and Friends of Troopers Hill. Sometimes additional resources are needed beyond that available in the Council's team. Where necessary Friends of Troopers Hill raise funds for this extra work, such the work in the winters of 2018/19 & 19/20 described below which was funded through our Ways to Nature Project.
The Council's Nature Conservation Officer (NCO) has responsibility within the Council for providing ecological advice and promoting Troopers Hill as an important wildlife site in Bristol.
Friends of Troopers Hill assist in managing Troopers Hill for wildlife at our regular Conservation Work Parties. The work we do is in accordance with the Management Plan and agreed with Bristol Parks before hand.
Generally we undertake tasks that are very labour intensive and can't be done with powered tools. For example whereas Bristol Parks might clear a large area of bramble in the winter we cut it in areas where is is growing amongst broom or heather. Several members of Friends of Troopers Hill have been trained by the Council so that we can lead work parties while being covered by the Council's insurance.
Friends of Troopers Hill also raise funds or provide volunteer time to enable other organisations to be brought in to assist with managing the site, for example additional winter conservation works.
We are also keen to welcome groups from local offices who can work on Troopers Hill as part of team building exercises or would just like to give something back to the local community while having a great day out. If you are a member of a group or represent a company who would like to visit to work on Troopers Hill, then please see our information sheet for Corporate or Group Volunteering (pdf) and get in touch, we would be pleased to see you.
For example 17 volunteers from Lloyds Bank gave their time to help make a difference on Troopers Hill in October 2014 and we were pleased to welcome volunteers from from the Biodiversity team at DEFRA in April 2012.
Troopers Hill is very popular with dog walkers. Many also help keep Troopers Hill looking its best by picking up litter and other people's dog mess.
Along with all Council managed parks & green spaces in Bristol, Troopers Hill (including the Field and the Woodland) is currently designated in the Council's 'Dog Control Orders' as an area where dogs can be exercised off lead, there are no plans to change this.
A report on this subject published in the Week In in August 2016 is shown here and in the image above.
You can find out more about Dog Control Orders and other issues around dogs here:
Bristol City Council Dog Issues webpage >>
While we know that most are responsible owners and clear up after their dogs a few don't and there are measures in the Management Plan to try and address this, including adding extra dog mess bins
As well as helping to ensure that Troopers Hill LNR is well managed for both wildlife and people, the 2007 & 2012 plans were written to support entries in the national Green Flag Award Scheme.
Troopers Hill was awarded a Green Flag each year from 2007 to 2013. A flag pole was errected at the Greendown entrance to fly the Green Flag.
Bristol City Council is no longer entering sites in the Green Flag scheme, but instead Friends of Troopers Hill enter the site in the RHS Britain in Bloom South West Parks and Open Spaces award scheme. As for the Green Flag scheme, this award requires an assessment of the management of the site by an external assessor but is more focused on community involvement. Troopers Hill has received the top award in each assessment since our first entry in 2014.
While the RHS scheme awards a certificate, there is no flag awarded. In 2015 Bristol City Council provided a flag to fly at Greendown to celebrate Bristol's year as European Green Capital. In March 2016 Friends of Troopers Hill replaced this with a 'Welcome to Troopers Hill' flag - and a flag of this design still flies.
The flags become tatty over time so when these reached the end of their life in 2017, we intended to ask Bristol City Council to remove the flag pole; but we were approached by local families who liked the flag asking if it could be replaced. As a result with the help of Natasha (one of those who had contacted us) Friends of Troopers Hill ran a crowdfunding campaign which raised sufficient funds in only 2 days to buy a replacement flag and a spare. Since then other donations have ensured that we are able to keep the flag flying. Donations received in 2022/23 allowed to purchase a further two flags which mean we can keep the flag flying.
In 2020 we flew a specicial flag to mark 25 years as a Local Nature Reserve
We will need further donations if we are to continue to keep the flag flying after 2024. We think it is right to only use general donations for our core activities of running the group and helping to look after the Hill.
Please contact us if you would like to help.
2023 marks 20 years since the formation of Friends of Troopers Hill.
In November 2002, Sally Oldfield, as Local Naure Reserves Officer for Bristol City Council, sent out a survey to local residents to gather people's views on the nature reserve.
Respondents who had expressed interest were then invited to an initial meeting on 5th June 2003 to talk about setting up a group and explain how it would work. After further meetings, a nature walk and litter pick Friends of Troopers Hill were formally established in December 2003.
2023 is a good opportunity to review and celebrate the group's first 20 years, while also looking forward to the next 20 years.
In October 2022 we launched a survey asking similar questions to those asked in the original survey in 2002.
The survey closed on 30th November 2022 and we have now collated the results.
The main 2022 Survey report includes some conclusions that we have drawn, the main point is below.
"It would seem from this survey that by continuing to provide events and working with Bristol City Council on nature conservation, litter removal, maintenance and monitoring, we will be meeting the wishes of most of those people who have replied to our survey."
In comparing the 2002 & 2022 reports, the overall impression from 2002 is that Troopers Hill is a place you might not want to visit, there are lots of comments about dogs and dog mess, anti-social behaviour and fires etc.
The 2022 responses, while still showing some concerns, are overwhelmingly positive with many people making a point to praise the work of Friends of Troopers Hill and the Council.
The links below take you to the various reports we have produced.
2022 Visitor Survey:
List of all text responses
2002 Visitor Survey:
2002/3 Wildspace! Troopers Hill Visitor Survey by Sally Oldfield - Report
2002/3 Wildspace! Troopers Hill Visitor Survey by Sally Oldfield - Responses
Actions completed in response to 2002 Survey
Comparison 2002 vs 2022:
Comparison of the 2002 and 2022 surveys
Word Cloud Comparison - Likes, Dislikes & Suggested Changes
While Bristol City Council funds regular maintenance through its revenue budget it has very limited funds available for improvements or capital funding. The only other works carried out are those required for for Health & Safety reasons, all works are in accordance with the principles set out in the management plan.
Friends of Troopers Hill have been very successful over the last few years in raising grants for work on Troopers Hill to fund improvements which the Council was unable to fund. Details of work done and projects are described below. Our Funds page has details of all the grants we have been awarded.
On 10th November 2023 a hole appeared in the path that runs parallel to Troopers Hill Road to the west of the entrance to the Gully.
Bristol Parks are now (13th Nov)in the process of arranging surveys and getting prices for repair. Unfortunately it may be sometime before the repairs can be completed.
In the meantime, although you can squeeze past by stepping down from the path, we advise using other routes around the Hill or walking via Troopers Hill Road between Greendown and the next entrance down the road.
By late 2022, the oldest bench on the Hill to the west of the chimney, away from the path, had become very corroded and rusty. Pieces that have become sharp were cut away by the Bristol Parks 'Fix It' team to make it safe - it was clear that it needed replacement.
When a family approached us to ask if they could sponsor a new bench we asked the sponsors of the original bench if they were comfortable with that idea. They had no objection so after contacting the Council, obtaining a quote and agreeing wording on a plaque with the generous, new sponsors, an order was placed for a new bench.
Installation of the new bench was managed by the Parks team and it was installed in June 2023.
One of our earliest successes was to raise money for the repair of the original bench after it was damaged in May 2004. The story is told in a short video on our Video Project page.
Also in June 2023 we finally had to remove the rotting wooden top from a bench lower down the Hill that had been installed in 2010.
This was one of three steel benches that were installed with wooden tops that could be removed if damaged. The timber lasted much longer that we expected. We refered to this bench as 'Heather View' - for obvious reasons.
We were very pleased to hear in August 2022 that a grant of £5,000.00 had been agreed from the BCC Climate and Ecological Emergency Community Grant Programme for cutting and removing gorse to reduce the risk of fire and ensure that the reserve's biodiversity is maintained and increased.
Larger areas of gorse are being cleared by contractors, while our volunteers clear patches that are appearing amongst heather or grassland.
This much needed work to be carried out over the winters of 2022/23 & 2023/24, with the first stage being completed in January 2023. The gorse in the area being cleared in 2023 has regrown after being cleared in previous years, we hope to be able to weaken the the plants through this sucessive cutting so we can reduce the area of gorse without using herbicide.
This work is included in the Work Plan for our 2019 Management Plan within compartment 10 - '10.1 Fell broom and gorse progressively, starting from western and south-eastern edges of area'
Report in Bristol 24/7
Resurfacing the path from Troopers Hill Field towards the chimney was one of the aims of our Ways to Nature Project which was completed in 2020; unfortunately the available funding did not permit it to be completed at that time.
However, we were delighted that Bristol Parks were able to fund the work two years later. The original path had been constructed in 2007; funded through a grant raised by Friends of Troopers Hill.
The work to resurface the path started in April 2022; we expected that only the steepest section of the path up to the first bench would be completely resurfaced, but were pleased to learn that the whole path would be done up to the chimney. The areas of 'hoggin' installed as part of the Ways to Nature Project at the entrance from the Field have also been replaced.
The whole path now has its the final surface of coloured tarmac (similar to the previous path surface) which was placed over the black 'base course' of tarmac on 18th May. The two benches that had to be removed while the path and the area around and under them was resurfaced were replaced on 25th May.
As part of the same project, thanks to the generosity of a local family, the first bench on the Hill has also been replaced.
The old bench, which was rusty and had been patched up with non-matching seat slats, was removed on 29th Nov 2021 and a new concrete plinth installed.
Installing this ahead of the path works meant that it could be incorporated into the new path.
In August 2021 the new slide was added to the play area installed in 2016 on Troopers Hill Field.
The installation followed the launch of a fundraising campaign in early 2020 and a successful application to to Ibstock Enovert Trust for the balance of the funding
Read more >>
We were able to use some surplus funds from our Ways to Nature Project, together with some of our own funds, to clear some gorse regrowth in the first week of March 2021. This is an area in compartment 10 where we are aiming to progressively reduce the amount of gorse on the site and certainly to stop the spread that has happen over the years.
This was the third winter that part of this area had been cut and we will be monitoring whether this has succeeded in weaken the gorse, as well as observing what plants grow in this area.
The photos below show the area before and after the work.
Sadly, on Saturday, 2nd May, 2020 it was reported that a section of the oak tree near the Greendown entrance to Troopers Hill had fallen. One of the three main limbs of the tree had collapsed splitting away from the remaining part of the tree.
An emergency call was made to Bristol City Council and a team arrived within a few hours to make the tree safe. This meant taking all the tree limbs down. The response was very quick. We had hoped some of the tree could be saved, but unfortunately the whole tree had to be removed.
This tree was a popular local landscape feature and will be much missed. It was also used as a tree for climbing by local children, so it could not be left in a state where it might collapse at anytime. The tree and the area imediately around it was shown as a separate compartment (No 14) in the Management Plan.
The top-left photo below shows the tree as it was that morning with left half collapsed. The second photo was taken at lunchtime after the tree had been felled.
The stumps (bottom photo) have been left for natural play and to see if the tree regenerates. The larger logs have been left to benefit invertebrates as they slowly rot.
There are more photos in this facebook album
Following discussions at our meetings, we developed a project in 2017 to address a number of priorities for the site.
Most of this work was completed in 2018 & 19 but the final stages 'Access to Nature' were carried out in 2020.
This project successfully acheived all our aims which were to:
• Access to Nature - Improve access to Troopers Hill LNR across Troopers Hill Field and through Troopers Hill Woods;
• Protecting Nature - Replace the wooden fencing on Troopers Hill Road to improve access & protect the wildlife from motorcycles;
• Surveying & Conserving Nature - Carry out surveys of invertebrates and other wildlife to inform a review of the management plan;
• Improving Nature Knowledge - Increase visitors' knowledge of the Hill and its importance for wildlife in the city.
The project included production of a new Management Plan for 2019 - 2029 as described at the top of this page.
We were delighted to have received support for this project from a range of funders.
Also as part of our Ways to Nature Project, our National Lottery Heritage Fund grant paid for some conservation work to be carried out over the winters of 2018/19 & 2019/20 based on the recommendations in the revised plan. This is work that is additional to the regular works carried out every winter by Bristol Parks and by Friends of Troopers Hill at our Conservation Work Parties.
The work was carried out by Green Mantle who are approved Bristol Parks contractors.
The additional works for winter 2018/19 were focused on three priority areas identified in drafting the 2019 Management Plan described here:
Priority scrub clearance winter 2018/19
The works carried winter 2019/20 were described in our December 2019 Newsletter and focused on further removal of gorse.
We organised a Conservation Walk on Sun 16th Dec 2018 to talk about the plan and the habitat management works that we had commissioned.
A further walk talking about the new plan was held as part of our Celebration Event on Saturday 25th January 2pm which marked the completion of the National Lottery Heritage Fund elements of the project.
Details of the 2007 and earlier Management Plans and some of the work carried out on the site prior to 2012 can be seen via the link below:
Safety of pedestrians using the entrances to the Hill from Troopers Hill Road had been a concern of local residents for many years, particularly due to poor visibility for those leaving the site. Work to improve the entrance at Greendown was carried out in 2009.
The Council have now constructed build-outs to give short lengths of footway on the Hill side of the road at the two entrance locations with the worst visability.
The work also included improved pedestrian crossing points near the entrance to the Hill at the junction of Greendown and Troopers Hill Road. At the same time they constructed other safety & speed reducing measures on Troopers Hill Road - speed cushions and a speed table.
Troopers Hill Road Safety Measures - Details and Plans >>
In December 2016, a new geology interpretation board was installed at the top of the hill near the chimney.
Funding for the board was provided by Bristol City Council as part of a project to help promote greater enjoyment and understanding of Bristol's Local Nature Reserves, and The Geologists' Association though their 'Curry Fund'.
As the path through the woodland that forms part of our Woodland Trail leaves the nature reserve and enters the woodland there is a marker post and adjacent to it a bench. This is the location we call 'Little Elizabeth's View'.
The first bench here was one of three benches installed in June 2006 and the only one to survive that year. Sadly after 10 years good service the wood had rotted and the bench had to be removed. The other two benches were replaced in 2008 with metal benches with wooden tops. Friends of Troopers Hill launched an appeal in 2016 to replace Little Elizabeth's bench and raised sufficient funds for a metal replacement to be purchased. The new bench was ordered through Bristol Parks and installed in August 2017.
'Little Elizabeth' was Elizabeth Emra, you can read more about her here:
Some of the funds for the replacement bench came from a donation from the ALHA which was given as a thank you for our members leading a guided walk for them.
We later learned that ALHA were making a further donation of £50 and agreed with them that this should be used to install a small plaque on the marker post with a reference to Elizabeth Emra.
Projects carried out on Troopers Hill Field (which forms a gateway to the Local Nature Reserve, but is not covered by the Management Plan) can be seen on our Troopers Hill Field Page.
These projects include the construction of a new Play Area in September / October 2016; tree planting in 2011 & 2016 and improvements to the entrances.
The pretty plant being held in the photo is the nastily invasive Himalayan Balsam (it is an offence against the Wildlife and Countryside Act to spread it).
We spotted some Himalayan Balsam growing on Troopers Hill in August 2016, it was amongst rosebay willowherb, which made it more difficult to spot. We have told Bristol City Council of its presence and quickly organised a bash to deal with it.
It is relatively easy to control - no chemicals needed, it's just pulling it out, crushing or slashing it before it seeds. We have cleared the area concerned and will now monitor the area and pull any that reappears.
Identification sheet and more information on Himalayan Balsam >>
This is the first year we have noticed the plant on the hill, though it may have been there in past years but hidden by the willowherb. There is a lot of it in the adjacent Avon Valley.
As mentioned above dog walkers are major users of Troopers Hill and bring many benefits, unfortunately some people do not pick up and as a result dog mess is the biggest complaint raised by visitors to Troopers Hill. We have tried to address in various ways - see our Dog Fouling Clear Up page.
One important aspect of this is to provide sufficient dog waste bins. When Friends of Troopers Hill was formed in 2003 there were no bins on the Hill and only two dog waste bins on Troopers Hill Field. Over the years we have worked with Bristol Parks and St George Neighbourhood Partnership to add more bins and to ensure they are emptied regularly. Donations from dog walkers in 2010 helped fund one of the litter bins on the Field.
The 2007 Management Plan had set a target of having a dog waste bin at every pedestrian entrance. This was finally achieved in 2015 with the installation of an additional bin at entrance E on Troopers Hill Road (see photo). At the same time an old bin on Troopers Hill Field was removed and replaced with a combined litter and dog waste bin. The provision of these bins was made possible by the Bristol Parks Forum project to install recycling bins in Bristol's parks in Bristol's year as European Green Capital which released the old bins for use elsewhere.
There are now three combined bins on the Field and a dog waste bin at each of the five entrances to the Hill. Each of these bins are emptied twice per week. Along with Bristol Parks we will continue to monitor the use of the bins but we believe that after 13 years we have now reached the optimum number for the site.
Working with St George Neighbourhood Partnership we were pleased to be able to bring Community Payback back to Troopers Hill in the September & November 2014 to continue help us manage the area of gorse in the central area of the Hill (compartment 5). Their previous work in March 2012 is decribed below.
This work re-established a fire break between the two main areas and will help prevent its spread into the heathland. They also removed a lot of other scrub, including buddleia; oak, hawthorne & siver birch saplings and a lot of bramble.
Photos of the work can also be seen on the Payback team's twitter account at twitter.com/BGSWPayback.
Aim 126.96.36.199 of the Management Plan is to maintain the two listed chimneys in line with the results of regular inspections. In September 2012 both chimneys were inspected and as a result further work is being carried out as described below.
Work was carried out in May & June 2013 to repoint the chimney and rebuild the top section where some stones were loose. The old road signs were temporarily removed so that they could be refurbished; they were replaced in August 2013.
In February 2013, steelplejacks from Highline Rope Access Services working for Bristol Parks carried out a further inspection of the top chimney and cleaned off some of the growth of grass and moss at the top.
Following this inspection the Council decided that due to a small risk of loose stones or mortar falling inside it was necessary to prevent people going inside. Work to repair the stonework was carried out in Autumn 2013.
The inspections also showed that some work was required to repoint the outside of the chimney, the first phase of this work was carried out in March / April 2014 using rope access. The final phase was carried out from October to December 2016. This work was of lower priority as it aimed at preserving the chimney in the long term rather than addressing an urgent safety issue.
Friends of Troopers Hill were awarded over £30,000 of funding by Groundwork UK from the Big Lottery through their Community Spaces Programme.
The project aimed to improve access to Troopers Hill and encourage visits from groups such as 'Walking for Health'. The work was carried out throughout 2012. The application was in accordance with objectives 188.8.131.52 & 7 of the 2007 Management Plan.
The project page has full details of the work carried out which included improvements to the steps, new interpretation boards and waymarking in the adjacent woodland.
As part of our 'Stepping Forward' project (see above) offenders on the ‘Community Payback’ scheme have carried out some work to the woodland paths. We were also able to fund them to do some habitat management work on Troopers Hill.
Objective 184.108.40.206 of the 2012 Management Plan says:
Prevent spread of gorse and begin cutting on a rotational plan to encourage regeneration, reduce the fire risk and prevent it becoming old and degenerate.
The Payback team have carried out work to remove part of the largest patch of gorse. Some gorse will be allowed to regenerate in this area before further areas are cleared in future years. Removing this gorse by hand is hard work, especially in the rain. In larger areas of heathland, such as in Peak District in Derbyshire it is controlled by fire, but this is not possible on Troopers Hill. This work certainly showed that Community Payback is not a soft option.
You can read more about the reasons for managing the gorse on our Forum here and this posting will help you identify it. The Photographic Survey that has been carried out since 1994 shows how the gorse has spread - see photo No 20 in particular.