Bay Meadows

Bay Meadows

Bay Meadows is a strategically important wildlife corridor between Ogbourne Maisey and Marlborough. With 1.3km of the River Og, a typical Wiltshire chalk stream, and 12 hectares of adjacent water meadows, Bay Meadows is home to otters, kingfishers and wild brown trout. It is also one of the last refuges of water voles, which have decreased by over 94% nationally and are now extinct in nearby counties.

A land purchase loan from the Esmee Fairburn Foundation, temporarily secured the site whilst funding was raised to secure it long term. Following a successful public appeal, raising over £70,000, a grant of £60,000 from the Hills Group and a further grant of £250,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are pleased to say the site is now owned by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.

The amount of funding and community support has enabled us to start a programme of work to restore the floodplain meadow into a better habitat for species such as Water Vole and Wild Brown Trout, and for pollinators. Alongside the enhancements will be a comprehensive community engagement programme, and the creation of a nature area for the community and its visitors to enjoy.

The image below provides an interpretation of how the site may be enhanced to create a natural haven for people and wildlife.

Bay Meadows site plans

A key objective of the project is to involve the local community by:

  • Engaging with local people and groups
  • Installing paths and bridges for public access to nature
  • Linking with existing pathways to create new walking routes
  • Establishing a new volunteer group

Join our volunteering group

Community Activities Wildlife Conservation Work

Heritage Fund logo

Hills logo

The securing of Bay Meadows for future generations and for the protection of flora and fauna has provided a great opportunity for the community to come together.

Marlborough has a huge variety of experience and knowledge which when combined with the 60 years’ experience of the Trust for a common goal will help to create something special. As well as a community full of experience, Marlborough is also full of people wanting to learn new things and meet other like-minded people they may never have met in their local area.


Our Bay Meadows group is now up and running and has proved something the community want to be involved in. The first session was successful and involved walking the site to allow people to become familiar with it and ask questions whilst doing a litter pick. We also began clearing the enchanted tunnel. Without volunteers projects like this really would struggle so the Trust are always grateful for any time people can give.

Volunteers that show commitment to the project will receive training in practical habitat and site management skills, species identification and livestock care, delivered by the teams at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Action for The River Kennet.

Photo of first volunteer session

Join our volunteering group

Active groups at Bay Meadows

Marlborough wellbeing

Marlborough wellbeing has been funded by the Marlborough Area Board. They consist of consecutive sessions over a 12 week period. The programme provides nature-based activities for people living with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, low mood and stress. The first programme was very successful and two of the participants are now training to be volunteer support officers who help guide participants in the second group. If you would like to join or to find out more please visit the link below.

Discover the wellbeing programme

What they have they been doing at Bay Meadows

They have created the wellbeing/forest school area by clearing the area of stinging nettles, thistles and grasses. They then created a dead hedge using branches and dead wood found in the area. A fire pit was dug into the ground and poles put in to attach a tarp to. This area has a beautiful view and is the first thing to be created which will benefit so many people. They are continuing to help shape Bay Meadows for future generations and their contribution is invaluable.

Photo of wellbeing participants

I love being here in the countryside being part of a group, being sociable and doing things

~ Group participant, Tom.

Building bridges

The Building Bridges programme is a partnership of organisations which supports people across Swindon and Wiltshire who are facing significant challenges in being able to develop their skills, access education or move towards the world of work. Taking part in the programme is entirely voluntary and all of our advice and support is offered free of charge.

What they have been doing at Bay Meadows

Building bridges have been taking down the old sheep shed and tiding the area up. They have sorted rotten timber from good and are going to upcycle the good wood into benches and tables for Bay Meadows. They are contributing to a community project whilst learning valuable skills and there help is greatly appreciated.

Photo of Building Bridges participants

More about Building Bridges

Focus group

The Focus group was set up three weeks into the project with local children with the aim of getting their input and feedback on the project. We showed the video of Bay Meadows, explain the project, asked questions and ask them what questions we could put in the questionnaire. The aim was also to see if they would create a group which meets regularly and helps the environment and discusses current issue and how they can encourage more children to engage with nature and the environment.

Since the first meeting they we have increased in numbers and walked to the site so they could see for themselves. They splashed in the river, checked out the enchanted tunnel, sat around the wellbeing area and distributed Fritillary seeds kindly collected by hand and donated by Mark Lovelace.

Photo of focus group

It will be a really good place to get away from the stress of school

~ Ruby, aged 10

Action for insects

Our very own Michael New will be visiting the site on two occasions with his group to survey for insects. An organised group will be allowed to join in the experience to learn more about identifying insects.

Discover our Action For Insects project


U3A is about learning, socialising and friendship for those who have finished full time work and raising a family. U3A offers lifelong learning and activities for everyone in the third stage of their life (“Learn, laugh, live”).

The University of the 3rd Age (U3A) has many groups within the local community with a variety of experience which are already contributing to Bay Meadows.

Marlborough St Mary's CEVC Primary School

We are working with the school to engage the students with their local environment and to compliment the curriculum. We have organised two, week-long study opportunities over the next academic year for many of the students covering a variety of science based topics. The Meadow has a wide variety of learning opportunities with terrestrial and aquatic habitats. ARK will also be working with the children on site providing valuable knowledge on the river habitats.

St Johns School Marlborough

We have met with the Environmental science lead Mr Friend and he is keen for the A-level students to visit the site and use it as an opportunity for biodiversity sampling techniques.

Transition Marlborough

This is a group which has arisen due to people concerns relating to protecting our town and the surrounding area from the rising costs of food, energy and transport which are being driven by the global challenges of depleting fossil fuel resources, climate change, and the resultant economic and environmental impacts. Wiltshire Wildlife Trust are working with Transition Marlborough to combine knowledge and experience to address the issues above.

Discover more

The Silks Hub

The Silks is situated just beyond the North end of the reserve in Ogbourne St Andrew and is being revitalised as part of a community project. They will offer a wide range of additional services as a valuable lifeline to the community including a social hub for those managing isolation and loneliness as well as volunteering opportunities. They are keen to link up with Bay meadows to promote the reserve to the local community as a place to visit, volunteer and enjoy. Within their ranks they also have local historians keen to share their knowledge of history for that end of the reserve (e.g. use of a connecting field as a WW1 remount unit; an apparent attempt to block the original 19thC railway line; use of the railway by the local stables….).

Have a question or query specifically about Bay Meadows? Please email us at [email protected] and a member of the project team will get back to you.

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