In 2001 the former Misson Training Area in North Nottinghamshire became the Misson Carr SSSI Nature Reserve when the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust purchased it from the Ministry of Defence.
The purchase was the culmination of an almost thirty year campaign to safeguard the long term future of the site and was made possible thanks to the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the backing of Trust Members who responded admirably to an appeal for funds.
The purchase and establishment of Misson Carr SSSI as a Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve cost in excess of £165,000, making this the largest single acquisition in the Trust’s history.
Following a comprehensive programme of clearance and restoration, which included the installation of stock fencing to enable the re-introduction of grazing with cattle to the site, the nature reserve was officially opened in September 2003 as part of the Trust’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations.
Misson Carr is an extensive reserve which is best enjoyed when the opportunity of a guided walk or event presents itself. Anyone wishing to visit the reserve should contact the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Estate Team on 0115 958 8242; unfortunately due to access restrictions it is not possible to enter the reserve without prior arrangement.
For some pictures of the reserve please go to our flickr set
A Brief History
Previously known as the Misson Training Area, the site is situated in splendid isolation on the Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire border 9 miles from Doncaster. For much of the past century the site has been a no go area for the general public, allowing wildlife to thrive. The Trust has now reverted to using its original name, Misson Carr.
In the 1930s the Ministry of Defence acquired the site for use as a bombing range, but in 1969, 610 acres of the site was sold by auction and returned to agricultural use. 200 acres were retained by the Army as dry training area.
Much of the site became overgrown with a mixture of scrub woodland and dense marshland vegetation making many areas impenetrable. In 1989 some areas of woodland were opened up and some drains filled in, helping to retain water vital to the maintenance of the wetlands.
For over 50 years, military activity restricted public access and protected the site from intensive agriculture enabling it to develop into a fascinating wildlife haven.
In 1995 the MOD closed the site as it was no longer required as a training area and in 1997, Misson Carr was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI),
This was largely as a result of survey work that had identified a stunning variety of moths, with many nationally notable species such as the red-tipped clearwing and the dentated pug. Its designation as an SSSI ultimately proved crucial enabling the Trust to secure the site.
Following lengthy negotiations with Defence Estates and the Treasury, which required the direct involvement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Defence, the Trust completed the acquisition of the site in April 2001.
Misson Carr Today
The reserve is in the parish of Haxey, nine miles south east of Doncaster (SK710970). If you are using SatNav, enter DN10 6ET and follow the preceding directions.
Why not explore this nearby reserve? Walkeringham.
A Wildlife Haven
This fascinating nature reserve contains a variety of habitats including nationally rare wet woodlands, marsh, and old grazing pastures. It also has the county’s largest remaining fragment of a fenland system that once covered much of the local landscape, but which has been progressively lost to drainage and agriculture over the last three hundred years.
Misson Carr is home to an extraordinary array of wildlife and boasts records of all five native species of owl, many unusual plants such as twayblade and marsh stitchwort and creatures including great crested newts, harvest mice and water voles, all listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
The site’s importance stems from the sheer variety of habitats and species that thrive here but is particularly noted for its populations of moths and birds.
The abundance of species and sheer numbers of nationally rare and scarce species rank the site alongside some of the best sites in the UK. The site holds more records for nationally notable moth species than any other in the County and the species list includes the stunningly colourful cream-bordered green pea, the nationally notable dentated pug and the marsh carpet. Other nationally notable species include the red-tipped clearwing and the angle-striped sallow.
Much of the diversity in moth and other invertebrate species results from the varied plant population which includes species such as meadow rue, yellow loosestrife and marsh stitchwort.
The site is believed to be one of the best in the County for bird species and local naturalist Derick Scott has been studying the bird population on the site for over 30 years. In 1997 Derick wrote ‘The Long-eared Owl’ published by the Hawk and Owl Trust.
The site is home to good numbers of warblers, including garden warblers and lesser whitethroat and other species such as bittern and golden oriole have been recorded.
The site is probably most notable for its owls, with all five native species having been recorded at some time. Red list species include song thrush, skylark, linnet, reed bunting, bullfinch, grey partridge and spotted flycatcher and its is expected that future habitat improvements and increased survey work will result in many additions to the species list.