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Cricklade SN6 6RA
What3Words: ///facing.weeps.exposing

OS map 169 grid ref: SU073923

  • Blakehill Farm is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs
  • Dogs are not allowed
  • Total complex 263.69 hectares
  • Blakehill Farm 243.1 hectares

Blakehill Complex Reserve map

We are turning this former military airfield back into wildlife-rich hay meadow and pasture, habitats which have steeply declined in Wiltshire and the UK. On this one reserve we are meeting more than 45% of the government's 10-year target for restoring hay meadow in England!

In World War II Dakotas took off from here carrying troops and equipment to the battlefields of Europe. The old runways are long gone but they can still be traced by the changes in vegetation. 

What can I see at Blakehill?

The grassland is home to brown hare, roe deer, kestrel and skylarks. Adder’s-tongue fern, great burnet, oxeye daisies, ladies bedstraw and bird’s-foot-trefoil flower in the grasses.

Living in the hedgerows are bullfinch, lapwing, grass snake and 14 species of dragonfly.

Spiny restharrow and dyer’s greenweed are rare but survive here. Above the flowers fly small copper, brown hairstreak, common blue and marbled white butterflies. Birds include wheatears, whinchats, stonechats, partridge, barn owls and tawny owls.

Blakehill is the farm base for our northern reserves. We cut the hay in July after the skylarks have nested, then graze with cattle and sheep to control vigorous grasses. In some areas we are reseeding with local wildflower seed. The reserve is very flat and easy to navigate on the tarmac tracks.

Brown hare © David Kjaer Grass snake © Jamie Hall  Grey partridge © Margaret Holland Old runway strip Blakehill © David Kjaer

Blakehill sitings blog - click here

Stoke Common Meadows
Purton SN5 4LL
OS map 169 grid ref: SU065903

  • Not suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs
  • Dogs on leads are welcome
  • Can be wet during the winter
  • 20.59 hectares

These five meadows northwest of Purton are a mass of wild flowers in spring and summer. The finest, Jordans and Upper Field, are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. Mostly the meadows were used for hay but the long, narrow field on the southern boundary, Stoke Common Lane, was once a cattle drovers’ route.

What can I see at Stoke Common Meadow?

Come in summer to see the wildflowers - common knapweed, devil's-bit scabious and delicately fragrant pepper-saxifrage. Near the stream and ponds look for ragged robin, cuckooflower and greater bird's-foot trefoil. The copse is dominated by oaks 50-150 years old and there are large stumps of English elm. In May, bluebells flower beneath the trees.

We trim the hedgerows in rotation, always allowing some young blackthorn to remain as a food plant for brown hairstreak butterfly larvae. The gently sloping meadows are extremely wet in the winter, but do still visit as this is the best time to see birds such as snipe and teal.

For bird ringing reports from this reserve, see the West Wilts Ringing Group

How can I get here?

Download directions for Blakehill and Stoke Common Meadow