April Site Focus - North Meadow National Nature Reserve
North Meadow National Nature Reserve (NNR) is an old, flower-rich hay meadow on the northern edge of Cricklade; it has a great variety of wildflowers and is of international importance as one of the finest examples of a lowland hay meadow in Europe. It is protected as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) along with Clattinger Meadow WWT Reserve.
This site has something to offer almost all year round. In spring and summer there is an impressive array of wildflowers and grasses including Cuckooflower, Marsh Marigold and Yellow Oat Grass. Sumer also sees many insects such as moths, damselflies and beetles. Birds can be seen, and heard, year round across the meadow such as Skylarks, as well as Great Tits, Treecreepers and Chaffinches that can be spotted in the hedges and trees.
Best time to visit: Spring (April – May) to see the meadow’s impressive display of Fritillaries
Grid ref: SU094946
Area: 44 hectares
Species to spot
Fritillary – Fritillaria meleagris a nationally scarce bulbous plant this species is one of the most beautiful wild flowers in the county and a Fritillary - commonly known as Snakeshead Fritillary - meadow in full flower during April and May is an amazing sight. North Meadow National Nature Reserve near Cricklade is the best place in Wiltshire to see thousands of these plants, with the largest single population in the country. When they are in bloom the meadow has a purple haze to it. Over 80% of the British population of the Fritillary grows here.
The mottled flowers are large and very distinctive, ranging in colour from their usual purple to white, pink or brownish purple; they are drooping and cup shaped and grow 3-5cm long. Each plant normally only has a single flower on one stem.
North Meadow is about a 20 minute walk north west of Cricklade town centre. Car parking and bus links can be found in the town, from where the reserve can be reached by public footpaths. There is roadside parking within 300 metres of the reserve, and a disabled access gate at the site, although the reserve can become very wet, so access is not advised at these times. Access is restricted to the public footpath.