OS map ref: SK 831174 (Sheet 130)
The reserve lies 8 km east of Melton Mowbray and may be approached either along the minor road east from Burton Lazars, or via the B676, turning off before Saxby and following the western and southern boundaries of Stapleford Park. Please note that the level crossing gates are hand operated and thus can cause delays, especially on Sundays. Park on the eastern verge of the road, north of the level crossing (see map). Please remember to close the roadside gate.
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.org.uk or phone 0871 200 22 33.
Dogs are permitted on this nature reserve but must be kept on a short lead at all times.
The reserve, which covers 12.5 ha, is owned by the Trust. Part of the reserve (the grassland) is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The field pattern in this area dates back at least to 1652. Over the following 200 years it was modified by the construction of the Oakham Canal in 1802, the planting of oaks by John Day in about 1820, the construction of the railway in 1848 and the planting of conifers in 1860. Many of the habitats are thus relatively recent but 4 ha of the grassland is probably over three centuries old. The hedges contain some venerable ash trees and also barberry, a shrub now rare in Leicestershire. The freehold of the reserve was purchased by the Trust in 1976.
Habitats include neutral grassland, a length of disused canal, deciduous and mixed woodland, ponds, and a marshy area developing between canal and railway.
The grassland is managed by cutting for hay and grazing with cattle or sheep. The canal has been cleared of trees and re-filled with water. Some conifers have been removed from the woodland following wind-blow and 40 oaks in Day's Plantation have been felled and replaced by a variety of native species of trees and shrubs. Over the next five to ten years, all the conifers will be removed from the woodland to return it to deciduous woodland.
The 4 ha of old grassland contain cowslip, bugle and water avens in the spring; dropwort, great burnet, betony, devil's-bit scabious and yellow rattle bloom later. The locally rare hybrid avens occur in the woodland. The nests of harvest mice have been found in the boundary hedges and common lizards may be seen alongside the railway. Barn owls and little owls have nested in a hollow oak and specially provided boxes. Butterflies are abundant in the summer especially skippers and browns, while green hairstreaks have occasionally been observed.