Barnwell East local nature reserve contains a mixture of grassland and hawthorn and blackthorn scrub, with a pond at the north end.
It’s one of the few remaining areas of calcareous grassland in the city, meaning the ecosystem is built around a thin layer of soil covering chalk.
The site was formerly a piggery. We created the reserve in 1992, following demands for the site to be turned into football pitches and housing.
The reserve covers about 3.5 hectares (10 acres). We manage the site in partnership with the Wildlife Trust, with the help of volunteers.
Animals and plants
The reserve attracts a variety of birds, including kingfishers, willow warblers, blackcaps, fieldfares and redwings. You might also spot a grass snake or a six-spot burnet moth, which flies during the day.
In and around the pond, look out for spawning frogs and toads in the spring, sticklebacks, dragonflies and damselflies.
Flora at the reserve includes the bee orchid, which is rare in Cambridge, St John's wort, Lady’s bedstraw and common bird’s foot trefoil. We cut and remove several invasive species to help maintain the diverse range of plants.
Our work to manage and improve the reserve
We want to conserve and enhance the calcareous grassland. To do this we have introduced a cutting and mowing regime and grazing animals, and we clear scrub when necessary.
We manage the scrub and woodland to encourage diverse ground plants and ensure the trees cover a range of ages.
The pond is a vital breeding ground for toads, damselflies and dragonflies, so we keep it free of shade and clear the pond plants regularly.
You can enter the reserve from Barnwell Road to the west, or Uphall Road to the south.
The grass paths around the reserve are level – they are suitable for mobility aids in dry weather.
Public transport stops nearby on Barnwell Road, and there is some on-street parking on Barnwell Road and Uphall Road.