A view across the water with trees, purple loosestrife and a white butterfly

Photo by Sophie Baker

A view across the water between two trees

Photo by Sophie Baker

Felmersham Pits NR in autumn credit. Richard Revels
A view across open grassland with an abundance of wildflowers

Photo by Sophie Baker

Felmersham Gravel Pits

A rich diversity of wetland and grassland developed after gravel extraction

Location

Felmersham 7 miles north west of
Bedford
Bedfordshire

OS Map Reference

SP 991 584
A static map of Felmersham Gravel Pits

Know before you go

Size
21 hectares

Entry fee

Permit required for angling

Parking information

Car park 450 yards north of Felmersham on the Causeway.

Grazing animals

Yes

Walking trails

A few less-used paths are slightly overgrown

Access

Yes

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

April to May, June to September

About the reserve

When gravel was extracted towards the end of the Second World War, little did people know that they were creating what would become a superb wildlife habitat. Decades on and a rich mosaic of woodland, grassland and open water has developed. The lakes are one of the best places for dragonflies and damselflies in Bedfordshire, with no fewer than 18 species known to have bred. The nearby Great Ouse brings in even more species, with adults hunting over the water and grassland.

Wildfowl congregate on the open water including great crested grebe, teal and tufted duck, while grey heron hunt along the banks. Chiffchaff, reed bunting, and sedge and willow warblers can all be found on site. 

In deep water areas rare plants such as whorled water-milfoil and bladderwort have established, while the shallower margins are dominated by reed and common bullrush. The islands formed by extraction now support alder and yellow and purple-loosestrife.

The undisturbed grassland retains wild flowers such as black knapweed, common spotted orchid, lady's bedstraw and common fleabane and is flanked on the boundary by established hedgerows of dogwood, hawthorn and blackthorn. Elm re-growth feeds caterpillars of the white-letter hairstreak butterfly. We coppice willows around the pits, and manage scrub on the site to provide a diverse age structure and increase habitat. The meadows are grazed by cattle to remove the annual growth. 

We have some work parties at Felmersham; see our work party page for details.

Angling by Wildlife Trust permit only.  

Contact us

Contact number: 01234 364213

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)