Download our reserve leaflet here

Malmesbury SN16 9LQ
OS map 169 Grid ref: ST983906

  • Not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs
  • Can be wet in places
  • Dogs on leads are welcome
  • 31.01 hectares

Cloatley meadows reserve map © WWT


The eight meadows that make up this nature reserve on the edge of the Braydon Forest are awash with wild flowers and alive with insects during summer. Three fields - Horse Leaze, Cow Leaze and The Hams - are within Cloatley Manor Farm Meadows Site of Special Scientific Interest. In some meadows you can still see the parallel ridges and furrows left by medieval farming. Near the southern boundary, undulations in the ground are all that are left of a medieval settlement. The flower display starts in April with cowslips and continues through summer with meadow vetchling, pignut, betony, heath spotted orchid, bee orchid, adder's-tongue fern and, in the copse, moschatel.

Come in June and July to see butterflies - marsh fritillary, small heath, shoulder-striped wainscot, brown hairstreak. The uncommon chimney sweeper moth lays its eggs on the frothy white pignut. Spot damselflies and dragonflies near the four ponds. Wintering birds include barn owl, fieldfare, redwing and bullfinch while the common whitethroat nests here. In the hedgrows you may notice several oaks more than 200 years old. We cut only one third of the hedges every year as overgrown hedges provide food for birds during winter.

We cut the hay once every three years in July and graze the fields with our own belted Galloway cattle, and sheep, in the intervening years. This removes tough grasses so wildflowers can thrive.

Bee orchid © Rob Large Chimney sweeper moth © Rachel Scopes Meadow vetchling © Rob Large Redwing © Chapman


Directions

If driving – From the Malmesbury to Cricklade road (B4040), turn off for Hankerton in village of Charlton. In Hankerton turn right into Cloatley road, (signed for Cricklade and Minety). Reserve entrance and car park are on left after one mile, about 100 metres after the garage.

If using bus - The number 93 bus stops in Hankerton. From here there is a 15 minute walk along Cloatley Road to reserve entrance. Visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk/parkingtransportandstreets

If cycling - Leave National Cycle Route 48 at Hankerton and follow Cloatley road for reserve entrance. Cycle stands available in reserve car park. Visit www.sustrans.org.uk

Nearby reservesEmmett Hill Meadows, Distillery Meadows, Ravensroost Wood

What to see locally - Malmesbury Abbey (4 miles), Keynes Park (4 miles), Cotswold Water Park (5 miles)

Cloatley Meadows location map © WWT

(Photo: Cloatley Meadows © David Kjaer)