Kings Cliffe is very lucky to be set in a wide area of wonderful natural environment. We have many sites recognised for their high value for nature and biodiversity and our Wildplaces Group was set up not only to manage these areas for the wildlife, but also to encourage villagers to get out and enjoy them. There are many well documented benefits of interacting with nature for both children and adults, from general fitness and fighting obesity, to improving concentration and easing depression. We run regular work parties to manage these areas and keep them open to visitors, and always welcome new volunteers. We also organise guided walks where we explore our wild places, and discover interesting plants, animals, birds and insects. Everyone is encouraged to join in: villagers new and old, families and children, amateurs and experts!
Do you love our local environment and want to help protect and keep it open for future generations?
Kings Cliffe has many wonderful accessible greenspaces, providing homes for a wide variety of wildlife on our doorstep.
In keeping with the Transition ethos of increasing the use of local facilities, and building communities, TKC Wildplaces has two main aims:
To open up, maintain and encourage access to these areas for the village.
To create and manage the habitats for the wildlife to thrive.
We also work to protect these sites from inappropriate developments and to incorporate further accessible sites where possible.
Volunteer Work Parties
We're always looking for new people to get involved in all kinds of practical activities, for example:
Pond, woodland and meadow creation and management
Habitat piles, nest boxes, bat boxes, bee houses etc.
Footpath clearance and litter picking
It’s a great way to burn off surplus energy, do something really useful for the community and mix with like-minded people - all in the great outdoors! Work parties are normally held on the second Sunday of each month from 10.00am.
Everyone is welcome, and no experience necessary.
We are also putting together records of the wildlife in the parish, so looking for recorders as well.
Details appear regularly on the Transition Facebook page, and in the Village Gazette. All Transition members also receive regular news and invites by email, so drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to be included.
There are roughly 50 acres of accessible land around the village which are managed or maintained primarily for wildlife. These are our Wildplaces!
Here's a map of the key sites and paths (click map to enlarge)
This is a 10 acre woodland owned and managed by the Woodland Trust. It was planted with help from the village in 2000, and has already developed into a wonderful area, alive with insects and birds. A real highlight is the appearance of the marbled white butterflies in the summer.
The Village Field
This 9 acre farm field belongs to the Parish Council and in 2014 it was decided to turn it into a village amenity area by sowing it with grass. In early 2015 before the work had commenced, the Parish Council agreed to allow around a quarter of the field to be turned into a wildlife corridor running between the disused railway cutting and the Millennium Wood. This involved around 150 villagers in planting some 400 trees, and sowing an acre of wildflower meadow seed. Two ponds were also dug on site.
An access gate was constructed between Millennium Wood and the field, encouraging use of both sites, and it has become a popular route for dog walkers.
The new meadow is cut and raked by the village with scythes and traditional haymaking tools and this work is now a regular event in August each year.
Kings Cliffe Meadow
This area is owned by East Northants Council, but managed by the Wildlife Trust on their behalf. As a Local Wildlife Site, it is grazed by sheep for 3 months of each year, which controls the grass and allows the wildflowers to thrive. The village have access all year round via kissing gates, and Wildplaces are involved in keeping the site clear of scrub and litter.
At the top of Oak Lane is a 4 acre field which has been passed to the Parish Council from the housing developers. We have kept the scrub encroachment under control here, with a very positive effect on the biodiversity of the site including the appearance of bee orchids, slowworms and lizards. We are hoping to have sheep introduced to graze the area in the future.
The Old Railway Line
The disused railway around the north of the village is a designated Local Wildlife Site (LWS), and is partly leased to the Parish Council as the 'Willow Walk' pocket park, and partly privately owned. Footpaths have been cut and cleared along the cutting and embankment sections, providing a continuous walk from Wood Lane to the Park Street bridge and beyond. As well as maintaining the footpaths, sections are regularly cleared to allow the wildflowers to thrive. It is particularly good for chalkland flowers, insects, adders, slow worms and other reptiles.
Maltings Green, behind the village hall, is our only true area of common land. In this case, this means that it is not owned by anyone and so cannot be sold, and is protected by the Kings Cliffe Parish Council for use by the village. It hosts a remarkable variety of habitats in a small area including woodland, meadow, river and stream, pond and bog. At the end of 2014 much of this had become overgrown and scrubbed out with brambles and nettles. The original stream had long since disappeared below the scrub and the spring-fed pond had turned into a bog.
Since 2015, we have cleared a lot of the overgrown area, recut the stream and pond, constructed a wildlife hotel, planted spring bulbs, and sown meadow flowers. With this work complete we will be continuing to maintain and monitor the site with a view to planning further improvements.
Past the Church, on the right, lies the Horsewater, which was used in earlier times for resting farm horses after their day's work, and allowing them a good drink. It is fed by a natural spring which runs under the fields from the A47, and emerges under a curious 'fossil' stone at the northern end of the pond. Water then flows out of the opposite end into the Willowbrook.
This had been left unmanaged for a number of years, and had become seriously overgrown and in danger of completely clogging up. However, between 2014 and 2015, the Old Blokes in the village arranged for it to be cleared by the Trust of Conservation Volunteers (TCV), and subsequently Wildplaces has taken on the routine management of the pond. It has now proved very attractive for dragonflies in the summer and occasional nesting ducks!
Kings Cliffe Active
Kings Cliffe Active is the sports ground in the North of the village, which offers a multitude of activities including football and tennis over a 10 acre site. Wildplaces has advised on developing the wildlife aspects of the site, and with a new management regime now in place it has become a valuable site for biodiversity in the village. The margins are left largely uncut throughout the summer providing a wealth of wildflowers and insect life. The ponds on site have also been recently cleared and with future management should provide a home for a wide variety of water life.
The parish is criss-crossed by a good number of public rights of way, and while we are not directly involved in their general maintenance (stiles, bridges etc.), we are active in keeping scrub under control to ensure that the paths are kept open and useable. If paths become blocked, we can respond quickly to remove fallen trees etc. and restore access.
Other Local Sites
There are many other sites, in the village and nearby, which are definitely worth exploring. These include:
Kings Cliffe meadow - Local Nature Reserve
Kings Cliffe banks - SSSI
Easton Hornstocks - SSSI
Colleyweston Great Wood - SSSI
Bedford Purlieus - SSSI
Old Sulehay Forest - SSSI
Fineshade and Wakerley woods
One of our primary aims is to encourage villagers to use their local natural environment for education, recreation, health or simply the pleasure of being close to nature! We arrange regular guided walks, to introduce people and especially children to our wild places, and to discover the wildlife which lives here with us. These are free to everyone, and only cover a couple of miles over a couple of hours, depending on how many stops we make. We provide spotter sheets for ticking off the various species we find, and because our walks are all based around the village, it is easy to pop off home early if you need to, or retire to the pub or club at the end!
A lovely way to meet others from the community, get some much needed fresh air, exercise and relaxation, and learn about our rich environment as well.