The reserve is on 36.5 hectares of blown sand heath with conifer plantations and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is owned by the Trust, having been purchased from the Forestry Commission in 1986. The roadside verge adjacent to the site has been managed by the Trust since 1969.
About the Reserve
The main habitat found on the reserve is sand-blown heath, which is one of the rarest habitats in the county, the nearest equivalent being in the Brecks of Suffolk and Norfolk. Much of the area is planted with Corsican and Scots pine and there is some oak regeneration. The poor soil, derived from aeolian or wind-blown sand is material deposited after the last Ice Age and gives rise to an unusual plant community for an inland site.
In addition to patches of heather, gorse and broom, more specialised sand-land plants can be found, including slender trefoil, field mouse-ear and shepherd’s cress. The dominant ground cover is wavy hair grass and sand sedge. The fauna includes solitary bees, sand wasps and common lizards whilst bird species recorded include sparrowhawk, green and great spotted woodpeckers, woodcock, coal tit and redpoll. Common blue and small heath are the most frequently seen butterflies.
Its name suggests that in medieval times the area must have been used to raise rabbits, an important source of meat and fur. The fact that the right of way through the area from north to south is known as Rabbit Hill Lane offers further confirmation.
In the Second World War it was used as a munitions dump to supply the many local airfields and from 1965 onwards the Forestry Commission planted conifers. Fortunately for this rare habitat, many of the transplants did not take. Some patches of grass-heath have survived though many interesting plants have been lost due to rigorous forestry management.
For some pictures of the reserve please go to our flickr set
Aims include a phased removal of the conifers and the control of broad-leaved trees in most areas to encourage the regeneration of the grass-heath habitat. The small area of mixed woodland at the northern tip of the reserve will be managed to favour deciduous trees, especially oak.
How to Get There
The reserve (Grid Ref. SK829678) lies to the east of the A1133 Newark-Gainsborough road, almost midway between the minor roads to Girton and Spalford. If using satnav. enter NG23 7HZ and follow the preceding directions. The reserve is open to the public at all times, but visitors are asked to keep to the tracks and footpaths.
If you would like further details about the reserve, or if you are interested in getting involved in the management of the site, please call the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust office on 0115 958 8242.
The Trust is grateful to the Nature Conservancy Council, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, World Wide Fund for Nature and Nottinghamshire County Council for financial assistance in the purchase of this reserve.