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Felmersham Gravel Pits

A rich diversity of wetland and grassland developed after gravel extraction



The map below is for indication purposes only and does not show the Wildlife Trusts definitive land boundary.
 During the Second World War, gravel was extracted from these pits for the construction of local wartime air fields. With time, the pits flooded and the reserve is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its many species of flora and fauna. The lakes are one of the best places for dragonflies and damselflies in Bedfordshire, with no fewer than 18 species known to have bred here. The nearby River 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. Islands that were formed by extraction now support alder and yellow and purple loosestrife. 

The undisturbed grassland retains wildflowers such as black knapweed, common spotted orchid, lady’s bedstraw and common fleabane. The grassland 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 website for details. Angling from the lakes requires a permit from the Wildlife Trust.

Nearby nature reserves

Pavenham Osier Beds (In memory of Horace Church)
2 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Sharnbrook Summit and Wymington Meadow
3 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Wilson's Pits (Nene Wetlands)
7 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

Nature reserve map

Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012. For indicative purposes does not show exact boundaries.

Reserve information

Felmersham 7 miles north west of
Map reference
SP 991 584
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Opening Times
Open at all times
21.00 hectares

Straddles the Causeway, just north of Felmersham and the River Great Ouse
Walking information
A few less-used paths are slightly overgrown
Car park 450 yards north of Felmersham on the Causeway.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Tel: 01234 364213