The Country Park is comprised of five main areas all of which have very different characteristics and land features. The landscape varies from Ninesprings which is the most heavily used and accessible section with its network of footpaths and waterways to the Riverside walk which gives the feeling of being away from the hustle and bustle of town as you stroll through woodland following the path of the River Yeo.
Ninesprings was included with Yeovil Borough in 1928 and later secured from the Batten family of Aldon House. Lying between Aldon Park and the town centre, Ninesprings is a north facing wooded escarpment, and marks a rapid transition from town to open countryside.
The character of Ninesprings is primarily that of wooded hillside, opening out in the valley base to grassed areas and water. Woodland is the long established major characteristic. There is a line of beech trees adjacent to Aldon House grounds and mature specimens (including veteran trees) that are primarily broadleaved.
Valley Gardens a large Victorian pleasure garden sits within the valley of Ninesprings. A unique and interesting landscape served by a network of paths and bridges. Such landscaping requires a significant degree of management and intervention in order to maintain it in the desired state. The gardens have gradually become overgrown, obstructing views of the landscape especially around the springs. Work focussed on reducing the extent of the non-native cherry laurel which significantly contributes to the lack of space, being replaced gradually with native species and some ornamental specimens. However further works requiring a significant input of time and resources are needed to achieve sustainable woodland and the overall conservation of this important heritage site. Restore as native mixed woodland.
Dodham brook supports one of the largest water vole populations in Somerset but to ensure this population remains viable and resilient to flooding shocks, efforts are needed to enhance the quality extent of its habitat. This is especially pertinent considering the isolated section of Dodham Brook where the protected species currently resides and the potential disturbance being an urban fringe site. Biennial cutting in sections will encourage a rich sward whilst limiting disturbance and exposure of the voles. It is important to control bankside succession and especially the control of bramble which can quickly degrade habitat quality. The project will contribute to wider conservation efforts associated with the local BAP for the species. Other fauna will benefit from this targeted habitat management including invertebrates and small mammals within the long grassland and the species which feed on them along the riparian corridor.
The grassy banks above the Ninesprings café and below the wooded areas provide pollen and nectar rich foraging islands for bees, butterflies and other invertebrates.
The former rail-line that is now the cycleway connects ninesprings to summerhouse hill.
The open grass hillside of summer house hill once belonged to the Newton Surmaville estate. It is now managed by the country park and by a herd of cattle owned by an external grazier. it provides a contrast in being open grassland rather than sharing the wooded slopes that characterize Ninesprings. It is also a marked contrast to the busy urban edge at its toe and the linear character of the cycleway approach from ninesprings. Strip lynchets are noticeable over the lower hillside. A steep incline takes you to the top of the hill with views over Yeovil. There is a cluster of parkland oaks at the summit. Stands of gorse are dotted around the pasture and provide cover for birds and other wildlife.
Moving westwards from Summerhouse Hill the cycle way connects to Wyndham Hill. Four landmark lime trees stand at its summit. Like Summerhouse Hill, this too was formally part of the Newton Surmaville estate. The site is made up of a mixture of pasture grassland and newly planted woodland. This site is also grazed by the same cattle as Summerhouse Hill.
Penn Hill Park
This outlying knoll on the southern escarpment is crowned by mature specimen trees which divide up grassed areas proving an area of open space within a built surround. From the head of the knoll there are views south towards Yeovil’s southern escarpment, west towards Odcombe and Ham Hill and from the Headway garden you can see across to Wyndham Hill. Generally pen hill provides good vantage points over all of Yeovil. The site is predominantly amenity grassland, with shrub beds and ornamental trees. A community wildlife garden was created in 2011 and sits on the site of the old South Somerset District Council nurseries at the top of the hill. Previously allotments were sited on the other side of the pathway and have been converted into a small enclosed fruit orchard by the rangers.
This stretch of Yeovil Country Park lies broadly within the valley base associated with the Yeo floodplain. It covers a narrow strip of land contained between the railway line to the North West and the meandering course of the River Yeo to the south east. The walk is a mixture of woodland and rough meadow and provides a valuable habitat home to a population of otters, many bird species, butterflies and reptiles. The riverside environment feels enclosed and far removed from its wider surroundings providing an accessible country walk.