The Avon Gorge and the land on top of it, known as The Downs, is a pretty special place. Not only is it rather spectacular to look at, it's home to everything from nesting peregrine falcons, to rare plants such as the Bristol onion, Bristol rockcress, and Bristol whitebeam trees (which you will notice all have EXTREMELY ORIGINAL names).
But over time, as the area has changed from being a piece of grassy, mostly treeless land where sheep grazed, to a space that is mostly used for leisure activities, more and more secondary trees and scrub have been able to grow on the sides of the gorge. And while usually trees are wonderful, the shady conditions they create are not good for the rare plants and wildflowers. Without intervention, the rare plants would probably die out.
So a conservation project was started to remove some of the trees, and then the goats were brought in.
It's well known that goats will eat, well, anything (I once had a goat attempt to eat my hair), and they do well on steep terrain. They eat up the shrub, keeping the grasslands nice and open.
The goats are feral. They live in the Gorge full time, in a fenced area called the Gully, although they are checked on regularly.
Although they are not as friendly as domestic goats-they basically just stare at you while carrying on grazing-visiting them is still a great experience. There is something really amazing about seeing goats living in an environment like this, and it's as close as I'm going to get to seeing wild goats any time soon. I love that such a creative and innovative conservation method is being used, and that this wonderful place is being looked after in such a sensitive way. And of course, as we have already established (here and here) I fricking love goats. So it makes me super happy to be able to visit these goat conservationists.
You can find out more about the Gorge and the conservation work being done on it here-http://www.avongorge.org.uk/index.php