OS map ref: SK 937157 (Sheet 130)
Nearest post code LE15 7NG
The reserve lies in north-east Rutland, 1.5 km north of the village of Greetham and 1 km west of Stretton (on the AI). Park near the T-junction directly opposite Great Lane, along part of the Viking Way, then follow the track for about 400 metres to the reserve entrance, crossing from west to east of the hedge on the way. Please keep to the path.
Access - Stile
Please respect the hay crop between April and July each year.
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.
Dogs are permitted on this nature reserve but must be kept on a short lead at all times.
The reserve, which covers 12.6 ha, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The meadows have been grazed by sheep and cattle or cut for hay, for several decades. They have received no artificial fertilisers or herbicides in that time and it is solely due to the attitude of the former owner, George Merry, that the meadows survived with their wildlife intact, in an area where virtually all other fields are now arable or intensive grass ley. The full importance of the fields was brought to the attention of the Trust when they came on the market early in 1985. Due to the enthusiasm of local member George Sellars, and other Rutland naturalists, the Meadows were finally scheduled as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in October 1985, shortly after their purchase by the Trust.
Habitats include dry, unimproved, neutral grassland, four field ponds and numerous hedges.
Current management continues the traditional grazing and hay cutting. Hedges and ponds are managed to maintain their wildlife value; the hedgerows play an important part in shielding the meadows' flora against spray drift from adjoining arable land, and as a habitat for birds.
Merry's Meadows is one of the most diverse grassland sites in the two counties. The main interest of the reserve lies in the great diversity of its grassland flora. It contains a wide variety of species characteristic of unimproved, neutral grassland, but additional limestone species, such as fragrant orchid, have been recorded. The meadows have retained their ridge and furrow pattern, where cowslip, quaking-grass, green-winged orchid and adders-tongue grow on the ridges, cuckooflower in the damper furrows. In addition common and heath spotted-orchids and the rare frog orchid are present, the last at probably its only remaining site in the two counties. Pepper-saxifrage, saw-wort, dropwort and a host of other herbs and grasses have been recorded.
In autumn 2004, six species of waxcap fungus were recorded in Long Field, including the spectacular crimson Hygrocybe splendidissima and H. coccinea. In the ponds common and great crested newts have been found. Butterflies which feed on the herbs of old meadows include small skipper, small heath, small copper and common blue. Chimney sweeper moths, which feed on pignut, are often abundant.