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Old Sulehay

A fragment of the ancient Rockingham Forest

Old Sulehay Forest is a fragment of the ancient Rockingham Forest, a royal hunting forest that extended from Wansford to Kettering. Other areas of the reserve are associated with quarrying. Stonepit Close was exploited for its limestone, while areas of Ring Haw were quarried for limestone, ironstone and silica clay; remains of the quarry railway track beds and sidings can still be seen. The area known as the Calcining Banks was used to refine extracted iron ore known as calcined ore. 

In summer, glow-worms glimmer in the longer grass. Many wildflowers found here are rare in Northamptonshire, including ploughman’s-spikenard, wild thyme, viper’s bugloss, common cudweed and yellow-wort. These attract a wide range of butterflies, such as common blue, brown argus and dingy skipper. On warm spring days look for the energetic grizzled skipper in Stonepit Close, on the disused railway or the Calcining Banks. 

Areas of scrub support birds such as whitethroat and bullfinch. Great and lesser spotted woodpeckers live in the woodland along with nuthatch and treecreeper. Invertebrates thrive on the sun-warmed paths and rides. 

To maintain the varied habitat structure most of the grassland is grazed with rare-breed sheep and cattle to maintain low soil fertility. Using wildflower seeds collected from other limestone grassland sites in the area, Sammock’s Hill was restored from arable land. It now boasts a variety of native flowers, including cowslips, bird’s-foot trefoil, knapweed broomrape and pyramidal orchids. 

Old Sulehay Forest is ancient abandoned coppice of ash, hazel, oak and field maple, with a diverse ground flora. We are reintroducing coppicing and we fell trees to maintain the wide, sunny rides favoured by wildlife – and people.  

Old Sulehay reserve map


The map below is for indication purposes only and does not show the Wildlife Trusts definitive land boundary.

Nearby nature reserves

Wansford Pasture & Standen's Pasture
1 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Southorpe Paddock
3 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Southorpe Meadow
4 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

Sulehay Road, 0.5 miles west of the village
Yarwell Village
Map reference
TL 054 980
Great for...
a family day out
ancient trees
historical interest
spring flowers
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
85.00 hectares
Living Landscape schemes
John Clare Country Project

Main ride is surfaced in woodland, though other paths can get muddy. Quarry has uneven paths and steep slopes.
Walking information
Main ride is surfaced in woodland though other paths can get muddy. Quarry has uneven paths and steep slopes.
Limited parking in laybys along Sulehay Road; many public rights of way from the surrounding villages.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Grazed with sheep and cattle
Reserve manager
Tel: 01604 405285


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