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Langdyke Countryside Trust buys former gravel pits between Stamford and Peterborough to create its ninth nature reserve





A community environmental group run entirely by volunteers has bought its ninth nature reserve in the area.

Langdyke Countryside Trust is drawing up management plans after buying Christ’s College Nature Reserve for £45,000 thanks to a year-long fund-raising campaign.

The 22-acre reserve is made up of restored gravel pits, surrounded by new planting of native trees and shrubs.

The Christ's College Nature Reserve is split into two lakes created from old gravel pits. Photo courtesy of the Langdyke Trust
The Christ's College Nature Reserve is split into two lakes created from old gravel pits. Photo courtesy of the Langdyke Trust

“This is a magnificent addition to the Langdyke portfolio of reserves, and great news for wildlife in the area,” said trust chairman, Richard Astle.

“We are particularly grateful for the grants and generous donations which have helped us raise the money to buy the reserve.”

The new wildlife sanctuary lies alongside the Maxey Cut, a short half-a-mile walk from Helpston.

The trust welcomes new member and volunteers. Photo courtesy of the Langdyke Trust
The trust welcomes new member and volunteers. Photo courtesy of the Langdyke Trust

It can also be reached by footpath from Maxey, along the Cut and Woodgate Lane, while the village of Etton is also a short walk away along the banks of the Cut.

The site was farmland before it was given over to gravel extraction in the early 2000s.

Historically it was part of the Westings Meadow, a large area of damp meadows and marshland, rich in biodiversity, which was a vital source of grazing for nearby villages.

The western lake at the new Christ's College Nature Reserve. Photo courtesy of the Langdyke Trust
The western lake at the new Christ's College Nature Reserve. Photo courtesy of the Langdyke Trust

The site now comprises two large separate water areas - named by the trust as College Pit and John Clare Pit, the latter after the famous Helpston-born poet whose poems may well have been influenced by the meadow.

The surrounding land is planted with native species, including wayfaring tree, ash, willow and guelder rose, alongside open areas of grassland with populations of wildflowers.

Langdyke Trust volunteer David Cowcill. Photo courtesy of the Langdyke Trust
Langdyke Trust volunteer David Cowcill. Photo courtesy of the Langdyke Trust

A detailed management plan is being drawn up, but provisional ideas for the site include:

- The creation of three viewing points

- The development of open areas of grassland, along the boundary with the Maxey Cut, to support existing colonies of four spotted moth and glow-worm

- A further point for supplementary feeding of turtle dove - a UK bird species in steep decline

- Installation of tern rafts on both pits, as well as owl and bat boxes

- Installation of a sand martin nest box within sight of public viewing points, and an artificial bank suitable for kingfishers

The Trust is run entirely by volunteers and has other reserves including Swaddywell Pit, near Helpston, and Etton Maxey Pits.

New members are welcome by contacting membership@langdyke.org.uk and volunteers are also welcome.

For more information, visit www.langdyke.org.uk



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