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Cricklade SN6 6RA
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

Blakehill Farm

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. Now the grassland is home to brown hare, roe deer, kestrel and skylarks.

Living in the margins, hedgerows, ponds and damp ground are many wildlife species, including bullfinch, lapwing, grass snake and 14 species of dragonfly. Through the summer adder’s-tongue fern, great burnet, oxeye daisies, ladies bedstraw and bird’s-foot-trefoil flower in the grasses. 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.

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.

Directions - Blakehill

If driving – Blakehill Farm is signposted off B4040, Malmesbury Road, between Minety and Cricklade, adjacent to village of Leigh. From Cricklade drive about 1.3 miles from edge of town. The reserve entrance is on the left about 100 yards after entering Leigh. From Minety drive about 3.2 miles. Reserve entrance is on right about 0.5 miles after the Forester’s Arms pub. For car park follow the signs from the new vehicle access road.

If using bus
– Service 50 travels from Cricklade to Cirencester via Leigh and Ashton Keynes. Service 52 travels from Swindon through to Royal Wootton Bassett via Minety. Visit

If cycling
- Local route from Cricklade goes all the way into Blakehill Farm, with access via Chelworth Industrial Estate. Continue past World War II Memorial Cairns and Purley Farm House. Visit

Directions - Stoke Common Meadows
Footpath to Stoke Common Meadows leads across the fields south west from the perimeter track opposite the Whitworth Building.

If driving
– From Royal Wootton Bassett head north to Purton. From Purton head towards Cricklade. Turn left off main road at sign for Purton Stoke. Go through village, following narrow road (Stoke Common Lane) for 1.5 miles. At the end of the lane there is a small car park, reserve entrance (kissing gates) and information board.

Nearby reserves - Brockhurst Meadow, Upper Waterhay

What to see locally - Cotswold Water Park (2 miles), Keynes Park (4 miles), North meadow National Nature reserve (5 miles), Lydiard Park and Mansion (5 miles), Roman Amphitheatre, Cirencester (6 miles)

Blakehill Farm location map © WWT

(Photo: Blakehill Farm © Steve Webb)