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Loughborough Big Meadow

Loughborough Big Meadow

OS map ref: SK 539215 (Sheet 129)

Nearest post code LE11 1NF

The reserve lies alongside the River Soar and Meadow Lane between Loughborough and Stanford on Soar. It consists of a number of unmarked plots in the centre of the meadows and the hay is extremely susceptible to trampling. There is parking for several cars on the roadside. 

Access - Stile near the river Soar entrance.

We encourage visitors to use environmentally friendly forms of transport wherever possible. Most of our reserves are easily accessible by bicycle, with many close to the National Cycle Network. Please note that cycling is not permitted on the nature reserve itself.

Public transport - contact Traveline for further information www.traveline.info or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Livestock.

Dogs are permitted on this nature reserve but must be kept on a short lead at all times.

The reserve, which covers 45.6 ha in total, is owned by the Trust and is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The whole meadow is subject to complex commoner's rights dating back to at least 1762 and is one of the few Lammas meadows left in England. 

This site has been managed as flood meadow for as long as records exist. The Trust purchased the first portion of the reserve at auction in 1983 and there have been other acquisitions since.

The reserve consists of unimproved herbrich hay meadow. Most of the meadow is mown for hay during June or July each year. The meadow is then grazed during late summer and autumn, and left during winter and spring for the next crop of hay to grow. 

Located on alluvium with a clayey loam soil subject to periodic flooding, the reserve contains a flora including great burnet, meadow saxifrage, yellow rattle, common birds-foot-trefoil and peppersaxifrage, many of them growing in profusion. The meadows are the only known site in the county today for the nationally scarce narrow-leaved water-dropwort. Breeding birds of the river margins include sedge warbler, whitethroat and reed bunting, while skylark breeds on the meadow. Redshank have bred in the past, but there are no recent records of this species.

Lammas meadows are areas of common land dating back to medieval times.  Dole stones (marker posts) were used to define ownership of strips of the meadow that were opened up for grazing on Lammas Day.  This has been August 1 since 1752 but was previously August 12.  The amount of land someone owned on the meadow defined how many animals they were allowed to graze.  The term 'lammas' derives from the 'loaf mass' held to mark the start of the corn harvest rather than the end of hay making. 

 

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