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It is this blanket bog, one of the UK’s most unique landscapes, which is being proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Munsary Peatlands forms an integral part of the proposed site, which is being put forward for inscription as the world’s first peatland World Heritage Site.

What is the Flow Country?

The Flow Country is the world’s the most intact and extensive blanket bog system in the world. As well as being hugely important for biodiversity, it is also an important carbon store, locking up around 400 million tonnes of carbon.

Plantlife manages Munsary, our nature reserve, for its peatland habitat and for its rare plants – including the threatened Marsh Saxifrage.

The proposed World Heritage Site is also an Important Plant Area, identified for its important habitat and rare species. Recognising the Flow Country by awarding it World Heritage Site status would further reinforce how important it is for nature and climate.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Site assessment

In August this year we were delighted to welcome assessors for UNESCO to the reserve, to highlight some of the important features of the Flow Country and to discuss its management.

The visit was part of a week-long tour of the Flow Country by assessors, who met with land managers, local communities and peatland experts as part of their assessment of the Flow Country bid – led by the Flow Country Partnership.

Here at Plantlife, we are strongly supporting the bid, and will continue to work hard to protect Munsary Peatlands as an important part of this unique landscape.

A decision on whether to award the Flow Country World Heritage Site status is expected next year – stay tuned!

Spotlight on Plantlife’s Cairngorms Volunteers

Spotlight on Plantlife's Cairngorms Volunteers

Discover the activities and work that our volunteers in the Cairngorms do with Sam Jones of the Rare Plants and Wild Connections Project. 

Munsary Nature Reserve’s Road to UNESCO World Heritage Site

Munsary Nature Reserve’s Road to UNESCO World Heritage Site

Learn about why our Munsary Peatlands reserve is being put forward for inscription as the world’s first peatland UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A Botanical Art Journey of Plantlife’s Reserves

A Botanical Art Journey of Plantlife’s Reserves

Plantlife’s Artist in Residence, shares her summer journey across our reserves and some top tips for aspiring botanical artists.

I always thought that I was someone who immersed themselves in nature. The entire ethos of my work is inspired by the natural world; it’s the seeds that allow my paintings to grow. However, my life-changing trip this summer exploring IPA sites across the UK has opened my eyes. It’s shown me what truly settling into stillness and absorbing the magic of nature really is.

As part of my Artist Residency for Plantlife – and supported by Arts Council England’s Developing your Creative Practice Fund – I set off on a wildflower treasure hunt back in May to uncover rare species; many of which are currently living on the edge.

The brilliance of botanical art

I have always been fascinated by the juxtaposition of a wildflower, how its strength can rise through rubble and yet its fragility can break at the lightest of touches. A wildflower experiences birth, growth, transformation and decay, often in a thimble of time. It shows courage, hope, resilience, a contentment that is enviable.

Being amongst wildflowers I feel joy, strength, grief and an easeful glimmer of peace. With every wildflower season, I am able to experience this cycle of emotions. I am my raw, honest self, no hiding, nature welcomes you as you are, inviting you to be part of the purposeful chaos. My art helps me grow down through my layers and expand my roots.

Life on the verge

My journey started at Ranscombe Farm Nature Reserve in Kent. And what a start to the trip! I pulled up in the smallest of car parks where I was met by Ben, the site manager. He was excited to show me the incredibly rare Man Orchid: a handful of this endangered species had decided to make a verge on the side of a busy road their home.

If he hadn’t pointed them out, I would have walked straight past – but the moment you notice them, you cannot look away. Milky lime yellow with stripes of burgundy and tongues like snakes; they were utterly divine.

The juxtaposition of this rare, beautiful flower with the frantic hum of traffic continuously passing by felt like a metaphor for human nature. How much do we miss out on because we’re simply too busy?

Discovering species on the edge

My visit up to Scotland was the biggest part of my trip. The colours here were like a symphony; vibrant pops against a rugged landscape. Shades of storm grey into an icy blue, merging into crystalline greens. Soft lavender and silver ribbons. All these colours merged together against the textures of the flagstone rocks and the wildlife that burst from them.

And you had to work to find the rare species among this incredible palette! At one point, I had to lean right over a cliffside to spot the tiniest deep pink Scottish Primrose; it was so small and fragile – around 5cm tall – that you had to seriously tune your eye in to find it.

But I was so glad I made the effort. The Scottish Primrose can only be found in Orkney and the northern coast of Scotland. If it disappears from these sites, it’s gone forever. Our discovery, therefore, felt enormously poignant.

Top tips for aspiring botanical artists

  • Purchase a hand lens and take it everywhere, discover micro worlds that are everywhere and observe as much as possible.
  • Make notes, voice recordings, anything that helps plant you back in your sweet spot, most of all find comfort in stillness.
  • The more peace in stillness you find, the more nature reveals to you.
  • Talk about what you do with passion, share what you learn, by doing so you will inspire others to protect nature.

Learn more about our reserves

Munsary Nature Reserve’s Road to UNESCO World Heritage Site

Munsary Nature Reserve’s Road to UNESCO World Heritage Site

Learn about why our Munsary Peatlands reserve is being put forward for inscription as the world’s first peatland UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A Botanical Art Journey of Plantlife’s Reserves

A Botanical Art Journey of Plantlife’s Reserves

Plantlife’s Artist in Residence, shares her summer journey across our reserves and some top tips for aspiring botanical artists.

Spring on Plantlife’s Welsh Nature Reserves

Spring on Plantlife’s Welsh Nature Reserves

Spring is an exciting time to be on our nature reserves. This is the season when the meadows really burst into life, with lush growth and seasonal flowers.

Lugg Meadow Nature Reserve

Location: Near Hereford, Herefordshire
OS: SO547 405
What Three Word location:///rent.trophy.cover

Habitat: Lammas Floodplain Meadow

A wide river passing through a green meadow
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The Reserve

Lugg Meadow is best known for its spectacular displays of fritillaries in spring.

Their nodding, checkerboard, purple flowers are a sure sign that summer is on the way. Visitors admiring these delightful plants probably have little idea of the long history that allows them to flourish. The meadows by the River Lugg were recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The meadow is divided into two sections, separated by the A438. In spring time you’ll find a mass of yellow buttercups almost as far as the eye can see. This is the best time of year to follow footpaths through the Upper Lugg Meadow – access into the Lower Lugg section is restricted from March to July to protect breeding curlews.

You’ll also find a host of meadow species, including Oxeye Daisy and the thistle-like purple heads of Common Knapweed. In damper areas, visitors might see the frothy flowerheads of Meadowsweet and the tattered, pink flowers of Ragged-robin.

In summer, the meadow has turned into a swaying hay field, but there is still colour among the hay. After the harvest, Purple-loosestrife and Flowering-rush might be spotted in wet ground by the river.

Habitat

The river regularly floods its banks, bringing rich soil to fertilise the meadow. But the Lugg Meadow also relies on the ancient management that survives to this day. Patches of the meadow are owned by local families, but have never been enclosed. Instead the boundaries of each parcel are marked by “dole stones’’.

Each owner can take a crop of hay off their patch in July, then from Lammas Day (1 August) to February, the land becomes common grazing. That’s why it’s called a Lammas meadow.

Purchase of the reserve was made possible by Unilever (Timotei) and supported by Dr Diana Griffith and the National Lottery through the Heritage Memorial Fund.

Species to look out for

  • Pepper Saxifrage Silaum silaus – June – September
  • Narrow-leaved water-dropwort Oenanthe silaifoli  –  June – July
  • Crow Garlic Allium vineale  – June – August

Visit

A meadow full of yellow flowers, a blue sky and lush green trees

Directions

Lugg Meadow Nature Reserve
Ledbury Road
Tupsley
Herefordshire
HR1 1UT

There is space to park in the lane by the entrance, off the A438 opposite the Cock of Tupsley pub.

Access over Upper Lugg Meadow is unrestricted but do not walk in the growing hay between late April and July. Access on Lower Lugg is restricted to public rights of way only from March to the end of July.

 

News

A delicate checkered purple Snakes Head Fritillary flowerhead drooping over grass

Take Action 📢 This Nature Reserve is under threat

We are deeply concerned that a planning application has been submitted to build 350 dwellings on land which borders our Lugg Meadows Nature Reserve, a legally protected Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and ecologically important floodplain meadow.

Plantlife is submitting an objection to the planning application for the development of land East of Hereford (Planning reference P240422/F).

This Plantlife nature reserve has a fragile ecosystem and nationally-scare plant species, including Narrow-leaved Water-dropwort (Oenanthe silaifolia). It is also one of the few ancient Lammas floodplain meadows remaining in England, adjacent to the River Lugg and part of the wider River Wye catchment.

We believe that the plans submitted by the developers will not go far enough to prevent irreversible damage to this precious, sensitive ecosystem through increased water, noise, and light pollution, road traffic and footfall from visitors. The proposed habitat enhancement and creation does not adequately compensate for the harm that could be caused to this nationally and locally-important place.

We encourage anyone who is concerned about this development to respond directly to the planning application (P240422/F) which you can do through the Herefordshire Council website: Planning Search – Herefordshire Council. The deadline is 17 April 2024.

Images

Stories

Three Hagges Woodmeadow Nature Reserve

Location: York Road, Escrick, York, North Yorkshire, YO19 6EE
OS: SE 628394
What Three Words location: ///isolated.nutty.compliant

Habitat: Meadow and woodland

A roundhouse surrounded by wildflower meadow and small trees
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The Reserve

Three Hagges Woodmeadow is Plantlife’s newest reserve, building on the work started by the former Woodmeadow Trust and the local community to safeguard the space for wild plants and fungi to thrive.

Three Hagges’ name dates back to 1600, with ‘Hagges’ coming from the Old Norse name for a portion of woodland marked off for cutting or coppicing. Since 2012, the site has been nurtured by the local community with wildflower seed sown and 25 acres of 10,000 trees and shrubs planted, creating a patchwork of coppice and meadow.

The reserve has grown around the volunteers and community who have cared for it. The ‘Bodger’s Den’, a shelter built using natural materials with a fire pit at its centre, is a communal space for working and gathering. Visitors will also find a volunteer-made bee hotel on the site, which provides a home for the many solitary bees and wasps which are attracted by the wild plants on the reserve.

Habitat

Three Hagges Woodmeadow is mosaic of woodlands, copse and wildflower meadows, including a lowland wet meadow and a lowland dry meadow, and a pond.

In the Peterken Meadow, a lowland wet meadow, Greater Bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus uliginosus and Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi bloom in the summer months, and in the lowland dry meadow Common Knapweed Centaurea nigra and Ox-eye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare can be found alongside Lady’s Bedstraw Galium verum.

Planted by the community, the Jubilee Woodland is filled with Common Alder Alnus glutinosa, Downy Birch Betula pubescens, Hazel and Oak.

The Felix, Bones and Sessile Copse are mixed species woodlands, featuring native trees such as Small Leaved Lime Tilia cordata, English Oak Quercus robur, Hazel Corylus avellana and Sessile Oak Quercus petraea.

The Orchard is filled with fruiting trees, providing food and shelter for wildlife and wild plants alike. Blackthorn Prunus spinosa, Hawthorn Crataegus laevigata, Rowan Sorbus aucuparia and Wild cherry Prunus avium all grow here. The King’s Orchard was planted in 2022, expanding the area of fruit trees to include Apple Malus domestica, Gage Prunus domestica and many others.

Species to look out for

  • Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus May to July
  • Meadow Crane’s-bill Geranium pratense June to September
  • Wild Marjoram Origanum vulgare July to September

Visit

Map

Directions

Three Hagges Woodmeadow lies 7 miles south of York and 5 miles north of Selby.

By Car

Follow the brown sign for Hollicarrs Holiday Park and Olivia’s Tea Room and turn into Hollicarrs Holiday Park. Parking for Three Hagges Nature Reserve is on the right, after Millers Tea Room and before you reach the security barrier for Hollicarrs Holiday Park.

For Blue Badge holders there is a parking space at the entrance to the woodmeadow on the left-hand side of the drive opposite the sales office car park. Access to the woodmeadow is via a wheelchair-accessible gate.

On Foot or by Bike

Three Hagges Woodmeadow is situated just under a mile away from the village of Riccall and from the York to Selby Sustrans cycle route.  Using the cycle route, you can travel all the way from York city centre to Three Hagges on a traffic-free route.

By Bus

Arriva Bus operate a regular service (service number 415) from either Selby or York. Bus stops are situated opposite each other on the A19 at Hollicarrs.

What can I find at Cae Blaen-dyffryn in spring?

Cae Blaen-dyffryn is our south Wales nature reserve and can be found close to the town of Lampeter, in Carmarthenshire. It’s best known for its population of Greater and Lesser Butterfly Orchids (Platanthera chlorantha & P. bifolia) which flower in the high summer. 

However, a visit in spring is always rewarding. Luxuriant fresh growth in the grassland is fed by a warm sun and abundant rain. Cuckoos call from distant hills. Within the reserve, Meadow Pipits drop from the sky above you with their cascading song, and Stonechats call assertively from the scrub. 

What’s in bloom this month?

You can also find the earliest-flowering plant species breaking through in Cae Blaen-dyffryn in May and June.  If you look carefully, you can also find signs of other beauties still in store, like the feathery leaves of Whorled Caraway Carum verticillatum (Carmarthenshire’s ‘County Flower’) poking through. 

Discovering Orchids at Caeau Tan y Bwlch

Our North Wales nature reserve, sitting on a hillside above Clynnog-Fawr on the Llyn peninsula, is equally known for its population of Greater Butterfly Orchids which number in their thousands at the site.  

The meadows under the mountain pass face north east, making them a morning spot to visit if you wish to enjoy them in the sunshine at this time of year. They are as equally beautiful in the North Wales rain, however.

The cloddiau (earth and stone bank walls) between the fields are an equal show to the meadows, with their hedgerow tops of Rowan, Damson, Hawthorn and Blackthorn. If you look below the trees the Common Dog Violets Viola riviniana hide amongst the tree roots and the boulders. 

What else is in flower in spring?

The orchids are already visible in the meadow and the Yellow Rattle Rhinanthus minor is just starting to flower. 

There is something wonderful about the sense of promise yielded by flower-rich grasslands at this time of year. And a feeling you can’t wait to come back to see what you might find next. 

Caeau Tan y Bwlch is managed on behalf of Plantlife by North Wales Wildlife Trust. 

How do I visit a Plantlife nature reserve in Wales?

For more details on visiting our Welsh reserves in spring and throughout the year, visit our reserves page here Welsh Nature Reserves – Plantlife 

Rosy Saxifrage reintroduced into Wales after 62 years extinct 
person holding a plant with white flowers

Rosy Saxifrage reintroduced into Wales after 62 years extinct 

The beautiful mountain plant, Rosy Saxifrage, has returned to the wild in Wales after becoming extinct in 1962.  

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Discover the gnarled woodlands on the wildest peaks in Wales, as Robbie Blackhall-Miles reveals the secrets of Eryri’s miniature but magical Juniper forests.

Why the Wild Leek is a Symbol of Wales

Why the Wild Leek is a Symbol of Wales

The Wild Leek has been a symbol of Wales for so long that its stories date back to St David himself.

Deep Dale Nature Reserve

Location: Sheldon, Peak District, Derbyshire
OS: SK 165 698
What Three Word location:///announced.hangs.paradise

Habitat: Limestone Grassland

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The Reserve

Deep Dale is one of those special places where, if you visit the right part at the right time of year, you will see swathes of colour spreading over the hillsides.

Sitting within the Peak District National Park, this grassland reserve has a rich cultural history including lead mining and the remains of a Romano-British settlement on a steep-sided hill called Fin Cop.

Habitat

The reserve is an area of grassland between 150-325m above sea level.

It lies within the Peak District National Park where the underlying rock is mainly carboniferous limestone. Most of the grassland is on thin soils over this rock, and so is very calcium-rich.

At the top of the slopes the soil becomes more acidic, while at the foot the soil is deeper and more fertile. Each zone has its own flora.

Species to look out for

  • Cowslip Primula veris – April – May
  • Early-purple Orchid Orchis mascula  –  April – May
  • Mountain pansy Viola lutea  – May – July
  • Grass-of-Parnassus Parnassia palustris July – October

Visit

Map of where Deep Dale Nature Reserve is located

Directions

From Bakewell, take the A6 towards Buxton. Approximately 3.5 miles from Bakewell you reach the White Lodge pay and display car park on the left hand side of the road.

To get to the reserve from the car park, follow the footpath leading southwards. Approximately 200 meters from the car park you reach a stile, which is one of the entrances to the reserve.

 

 

Video and Images

Greena Moor Nature Reserve

Location: Week St. Mary, Cornwall
OS: SX 234963
What Three Word location:///wobbles.cats.digs

Habitat: Culm grassland

Yellow tall flowers - Bog Asphodel in a grassland
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The Reserve

Greena Moor is an excellent example of culm grassland where ‘culm’ refers to the rocks underneath the clay soil.

Always sparse, culm grassland suffered a catastrophic decline through agricultural ‘improvements’. The reserve is a fragment of what was once an extensive moorland and mire system, including large areas of culm grassland. It is fringed by wet woodland of alder and willows.

The nationally scarce Wavy St-John’s-wort Hypericum undulatum and Three-lobed Water Crowfoot Ranunculus tripartitus can be found here. Devil’s-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis is an important food plant for the Marsh Fritillary butterfly which are active on the reserve.

Purchase of the reserve was made possible by Unilever. Managed in partnership with Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

Habitat

Culm measures are a kind of rock from the Carboniferous era that contains thin bands of impure anthracite or culm, found only in Cornwall, Devon, the New Forest and South Wales

Always sparse, culm grassland suffered a catastrophic decline through agricultural “improvements”. The reserve is a fragment of what was once an extensive moorland and mire system, including large areas of culm grassland. It is fringed by wet woodland of alder and willows.

Species to look out for

  • Petty Whin Genista anglica -May-June
  • Meadow Thistle Cirsium dissectum – June-Aug
  • Whorled Caraway Carum verticillatum – July-Aug

Visit

Location map of where Greena Moor nature reserve is

Directions

Follow the B3254 south towards Launceston and turn right to Week St Mary. 

At the southern end of the village take the minor road signposted to  Launceston, and turn right just beyond the Green Inn. The reserve is about a mile further on the left.

 

Stories

Ranscombe Farm Nature Reserve

Location: Cuxton, Medway, Kent
OS: TQ 716673
What Three Words location: ///hood.pull.drives

Habitat: Chalk grassland, arable fields and ancient woodland

Ranscombe Farm Landscape
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The Reserve

Ranscombe Farm Reserve is Plantlife’s flagship reserve and an Important Plant Area for its arable flowers. The reserve is made up of chalk grassland, arable fields and woodland.

The chalk grassland is full of Common Rock-rose Helianthemum nummularium, Clustered Bellflower Campanula glomerata and Wild Liquorice alongside Skylarks and Common Blue and Marbled White butterflies.

Ranscombe Farm is believed to be the last remaining natural site in the UK for Corncockle and home to the largest UK populations of Broad-leaved Cudweed Filago pyramidata. The first record in Britain of Meadow Clary Salvia pratensis and Marsh Mallow Althaea officinalis were here too. It really is an arable flower haven!

Sessile Oak Quercus petraea and Hornbeam Carpinus betulus grow in the Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa coppice. This woodland has existed here since at least AD 1600 and is an important wildlife corridor in North Kent.

Habitat

Ranscombe Farm is Plantlife’s largest nature reserve in England, occupying a total area of 560 acres on the slopes of the North Downs in Kent. Recently declared as a country park, the reserve provides opportunities for quiet walks amongst attractive countryside with a fascinating flora.

The Ranscombe Farm landscape includes arable habitats, extensive ancient woodland and fragments of chalk grassland. A large part of the site is within the Cobham Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the whole farm is within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Ranscombe Farm is managed in partnership with Medway Council as a nature reserve, working farm and country park. You are welcome to visit at any time, but please keep to the marked footpaths.

Species to look out for

  • Lady Orchid Orchis purpurea May-June
  • Corncockle Agrostemma githago June-August
  • Wild Liquorice Astragalus glycyphyllos July-August

Visit

Directions

The nearest rail stations are at Cuxton, Strood and Rochester (visit National Rail for more information). There are also several local bus services, details of which can be found at Kent public transport or by calling Traveline on 0870 608 2608.

If you are travelling by car, the main entrance and car park are accessible directly from the A228 shortly before the roundabout (when approaching the M2 from Cuxton).

Visiting this winter

Please be aware that we are doing some conservation work around the reserve this winter. Large machinery may be operating in this woods. Please pay attention to instructions and signage.

News

We are currently undertaking exciting work at the reserve:

  • Completing the widening of a woodland ride that supports the only surviving wild population of Hairy Lady’s-mantle Alchemilla monticola in Kent.
  • Establishing 100 new Oak standards to provide mature and veteran trees of the future.
  • Further cutting back of chestnut re-growth from over 2 hectares (5 acres) of woodland already undergoing conversion.
  • Felling of chestnut across 3 hectares (7 acres) to convert to mixed native broadleaves.
  • Removing 25 large chestnut trees along the Town Road to further open the woodland ride and relieve pressure on neighbouring veteran Hornbeams.
  • Felling chestnut coppice in a ‘halo’ around 18 mature Oak trees to help prolong their life and enhance their condition.
  • Employing a heavy-duty forest mulching machine to grind out large numbers of tree stumps (including many chestnut coppice stools) to facilitate more efficient and effective annual management.

All these important work are made possible thanks to the support our members gave to this year’s nature reserves appeal and an additional grant of over £60,000 from the Veolia Environmental trust.

Ranscombe Farm Family Adventure Map

Delve further into the secrets of Ranscombe Farm Reserve with our family expedition walk map

Exploring Ranscombe Farm Reserve – Education pack

This education pack is designed to help teachers use Ranscombe Farm Reserve for learning outside the classroom.

Winskill Stones Nature Reserve

Location: near Settle, Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire
OS: SD 836662
What Three Words location: ///outwards.swims.bigger

Habitat: Limestone pavement and limestone pasture

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The Reserve

A unique landscape with spectacular views northwards to the Yorkshire “Three Peaks” of Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent.

Plantlife bought Winskill Stones with the help of a public appeal to stop the extraction of rock from its limestone pavement and to allow its varied flora to thrive. The deep fissures in the limestone pavement provide a moist, shady hideaway for a range of woodland plants including ramsons, Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis perennis and Green Spleenwort Asplenium viride. In the pasture you will find Mountain Pansy, cowslips and early-purple orchids.

Habitat

Other species prefer the low cliffs or humpbacks of limestone around the reserve, and the boldest displays of colour can be found on the ledges out of reach of grazing animals. You may see Kidney Vetch, Horseshoe Vetch, Common Rock-rose and 2 saxifrages, with Meadow Saxifrage usually found in grassland whilst Mossy Saxifrage prefers more exposed conditions.

Where the soil is thinner, or on crumbling limestone, you can find cushions of Spring Sandwort, whose flowers have five white petals that are just a little longer than the green sepals between them. Here too are mats of Limestone Bedstraw, with tiny white flowers and narrow leaves in whorls of six to eight up its stems. Herbs such as this and Wild Thyme are beginning to colonise even the desolate patches of rubble waste and pavement remains in two of the reserve’s fields. Rarities that are harder to spot include Green Spleenwort, Common Twayblade and Wall Lettuce.

Species to look out for

  • Spring Sandwort Minuartia verna May-August
  • Mountain Pansy Viola lutea May-July
  • Limestone Bedstraw Galium sterneri June-July

Visit

Winskill Stones Map

Directions

Please take care on your visit. Be aware of the terrain and of any roads that pass through the reserve. Note that livestock periodically graze many of our reserves as part of their management.

Location: near Settle, Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire

Grid Reference: SD 836 662

Explore Winskill Stones

Winskill Stones is a 74-acre reserve of limestone pavement and limestone pasture. Discover more about it with this resource.

Wild Space Adventures: Winskill Stones

Come with us to discover this wild space together and see what we can find.

Joan’s Hill Farm Nature Reserve

Location: Checkley, Herefordshire
OS: SO 592374
What Three Words location: ///paintings.fashion.feels

Habitat: Meadows, pasture and woodland

Meadow white, yellow, purple meadow flowers among grass
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The Reserve

Joan’s Hill Farm, set in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a stunning piece of Herefordshire meadowland alongside a small area of woodland. The reserve is one of several of Plantlife’s reserves to hold that generally scarce Pepper-saxifrage as well as the uncommon Dyer’s Greenweed and Greater Butterfly-orchid Platanthera chlorantha.

Some of the meadow species are less common. Also found here is Dyer’s Greenweed. It looks a little like a low-growing broom, although no more than 70cm tall, but it has no spines and its leaves are unlobed. It is a species of old meadows and grassy pastures, and was once used to produce yellow and green dyes.

The eastern block of pasture land, covering around six acres, hosts species like betony, and in the small area of woodland at the west of the reserve you’ll find many typical woodland plants.

Habitat

A stunning piece of Herefordshire meadowland, set in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Until relatively recently it was still a working farm (the farmhouse is still privately owned) and our land here is divided into 14 different fields, with one parcel of woodland. Three hundred years ago, the farm had exactly the same boundaries as today, and the pattern of fields has hardly changed since the tithe map of 1843.

The reserve is in two parcels, separated by about 300m, but the largest part is a 40-acre block of meadow. To conserve the flowers and wildlife, we cut the meadows for hay in late summer, after the meadow plants have flowered and set seed. Any regrowth is then grazed by cattle during the autumn, but for the rest of year grazing animals are kept off the meadows to encourage the greatest diversity of plants.

Species to look out for

  • Green-winged Orchid Orchis morio April-May
  • Dyer’s Greenweed Genista tinctoria June-July
  • Pepper-saxifrage Silaum silaus June-July

Visit

Joan's Hill map

Directions

Park at Haugh Wood car park and picnic site, just off the road from Mordiford to Woolhope (grid reference: SO 592 365).

Purchase of the reserve was made possible by Unilever (Timotei) and the Heritage Lottery Fund.