Wilwell Farm Cutting LNR SSSI
Type : Grassland
Situated on the outskirts of Nottingham between Ruddington and Wilford, this interesting abandoned railway cutting contains a wide variety of habitats and covers approximately 8 hectares. In 1976 the site was threatened with in-fill from household waste, but following a vigorous campaign, permission was refused in 1979. The site is now managed under a 99-year lease from Rushcliffe Borough Council. The site has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR).
The reserve is a wide artificial valley approximately half a mile long. It was dug in 1895 through Mercia Mudstones as part of the construction of the Great Central Railway. Habitats include neutral grassland, limestone track bed, acid fen and scrub woodland.
The reserve is one of the best wildflower sites in Nottinghamshire with more than 230 species so far recorded. Grassland plants include large numbers of meadow saxifrage, green winged orchid, cypress spurge, great burnet, wild carrot and eyebright (all are rare in the county). Also found are cowslips, yellow wort, common centuary, St John’s wort, ox-eye daisy, yellow rattle, knapweed, great burnet, field forget-me-not and white dog violet. Small colonies of bee orchid and twayblade also exist.
The wetland areas have declined markedly since the 1980s, but a newly cleared marsh area has increased numbers of cuckoo flower, ragged robin and water figwort. A population of southern marsh orchids still flourishes around the site, as does hemp agronomy, despite the decline in water levels. Open water is only found in winter months.
There are a wide variety of grasses, sedges and rushes (60+ recorded). The site also contains a range of trees (30 species) from hawthorn to oak, as well as many species of fungi, mosses and lichens.
Some 20 species of butterfly have been recorded, with gatekeeper, meadow brown, ringlet, small skipper, peacock and speckled wood most common. In one evening a moth survey recorded over 80 species.
Foxes are frequently seen, as are rabbits and squirrels. A range of birds (91 species recorded) pass through the site during the year including sparrowhawk, owls and green woodpecker. Various tits and wagtails, as well as common garden birds such as thrushes and wrens make up the local population.
The site has been widely surveyed over the years, with records and maps going back to 1976. This provides useful information about the management of the site and helps us to plan for the future.
For some more pictures of the reserve please visit our flickr set
Maintaining the grassland and open marsh is the priority. The grassland areas are managed by scrub control, burning and mowing. The track bed and open marsh areas are maintained through scrub control and sedge cutting. A substantial area of woodland will always be retained.
Volunteers play a vital role in maintaining the site under the guidance of the local Reserve Manager. Regular work parties take place on the first Saturday of each month, starting at 2pm. New volunteers are always welcome.
How to Get There
The reserve is just off the B680 between Ruddington and Wilford to the south of Nottingham. If travelling towards Ruddington turn onto the farm track on the right just after the Ring Road bridge. There is limited parking space so please leave the road gate clear. If you follow the track, you will find the reserve entrance on the left past a wooded area and is accessible via a gate or stile (SK568351). If using satnav. enter NG2 7UT and follow the preceding directions.
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 Wildlife Trust office on 0115 958 8242