Worts Meadow Local Nature Reserve Nature Reserve
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Grassland, ponds and woodland.
- Local Nature Reserve
- Scheduled Monument
This site is located in the village of Landbeach at the junction of the High Street and Cockfen Lane, on a parcel of land immediately north of Worts Farm.
Worts Meadow is a former mediaeval settlement site, with a surviving homestead moat and fish pond, and earthworks showing the location of roads and houses. The moat is most likely that of the manor of Bray, the centre of an estate that was mentioned in the Domesday Book as a holding of Ely Abbey.
Worts Meadow is a Scheduled Monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, and as such is deemed to be of the highest quality and of national importance.
The earthworks around the site indicate that smaller houses and other structures surrounded the manor house, but these appear to have been abandoned in the 14th century when the focus of settlement at Landbeach shifted. Brays Manor eventually passed to the County Council as part of the County Farms Estate, who have managed it as a pocket park.
The sites wildlife interest is reflected in the number of habitats found on the site, including:
- improved lowland grassland pasture
- plantation woodland and ponds.
The grassland is species poor and is leased to a tenant farmer who grazes it with cattle between the months of April and October. The hedgerows are species rich and provide habitat for a number of birds including yellowhammer.
At the western end of the site is an area of woodland known as Bourne Wood planted in 1992 and named after Cecil Bourne, a past Chairman of the Cambridgeshire Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
The wood is predominantly native species and has developed well. There are three ponds on the site which are the most important areas for wildlife as they contain great-crested newts, which are a protected species. A new small pond was dug in 2009 to enhance the site for the newts. The site is currently managed under stewardship by the tenant farmer who grazes it with cattle.
Open access is available, via a circular path around the reserve, all the year round.
Care should be taken when the cattle are in the field with dogs kept under close control or on a lead. The main entrance point is on Cockfen Lane with parking at the Village Hall opposite.
The main wildlife interest is to be seen during the summer months when the hedges provide habitat for yellowhammers, and whitethroats, if you listen carefully you may even hear the gentle "purring" of a turtle dove.
The ponds are also full of life in the spring/summer with frogs, toads and great-crested newts can be seen if you approach quietly.
At the western end of the site the woodland known as Bourne Wood, which was planted in 1992, is developing well and contain a mix of native tree and shrubs. Here can be heard willow warblers and blackcaps singing.