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Nature reserves


Bedford Borough has many areas of outstanding natural beauty including stately homes and gardens, woodland walks and nature reserves. 

We own and manage the following nature reserves:

Browns Wood 

Located to the north east of Clapham and accessed from Twinwoods Road. A small car park is available just outside the wood. Browns Wood is a county wildlife site and local nature reserve. It was first planted in the 18th century by the Duke of Bedford and was extended around 2000 to mark the millennium. The old wood contains a mixture of Ash, Oak, Beech and Hornbeam.

The new wood is being developed with ongoing winter works to thin the trees and widen the rides to encourage wildflowers and butterflies. The big glade in the millennium wood is a great place to look at the stars on a clear night.

Bromham Lake Nature Reserve 

Situated at the far end of Lower Farm Road, Bromham, the lake is a former limestone quarry that provided building stone for local housing and Bromham Bridge.  

It is now an important site for wetland birds, Great Crested Newts and a spectacular wildflower meadow and mixed scrub habitat. There are also two bird hides provided by the Bromham Conservation Volunteers.  

A number of butterfly and moth species are also present. 

Bromham Conservation Group website.

Clapham Parkwood

Located to the north of Bedford, Clapham Parkwood is best accessed from Hawk Drive, Carriage Drive or Woodlands Park. This ancient woodland is a county wildlife site and is first mentioned in records going back to the 1270s. It contains a mixture of trees predominantly Ash, Oak, Maple, Elm, Hornbeam and Hazel.

The woods were extended in the late 1990s. It has a rich history with earthworks possibly dating from the Iron Age. It has been used as a deer park and part of the wood contains ridge and furrow earthworks. It has a good show of spring woodland flowers.

Cowslip Meadow, Biddenham

Cowslip Meadow is an important wildflower meadow bounded by mature hedges. Badgers, foxes and Muntjac deer are frequently seen here. It is also home to a variety of birds including skylarks.

Access is via Church End, Biddenham or Bromham Bridge on the opposite side of the river from Bromham Water Mill. 

Fenlake Meadows 

Fenlake Meadows are located between Cardington Road and the River Great Ouse. The meadows are a local nature reserve and county wildlife site. The meadows are the largest and best preserved flood plain grazing meadows in Bedfordshire. The meadows have a long history and have been continuously grazed since 1794. There is a car park opposite the Anchor Pub on Cardington Road.

A circular walk takes you around the site but as the name suggests, the meadows can be underwater at times so walking the entire route is not always possible. 

Judges Spinney

Located to the north of Clapham and west of nearby Browns Wood on Highfield road. The wood was planted by the Duke of Bedford in the 18th century and contains extensive ridge and furrow earth works. It is a small wood containing mainly Ash, Oak and Beech. It is a county wildlife site.

There are fantastic views over the Ouse Valley to the north of Bedford.

Hill Rise

Hill Rise is a local nature reserve nestling amongst the houses off Park Road North adjacent to Foster Hill Road Cemetery and Bedford Park. It is a small oasis with wildflower meadows, scrub and ponds. The ponds are a great place to see frogs, toads and newts in the spring. The ponds are also home to the midwife toads which are only found in a few locations across the UK. 

Mowsbury Hillfort

Located above Mowsbury Golf Course, Mowsbury Hillfort is a scheduled monument and a county wildlife site. It is an Iron Age univallate hillfort with a medieval moated site within the hillfort itself. The site offers fantastic views of Bedford, the Ouse Valley and beyond. In the summer the meadows are full of wildflowers and butterflies. The site also contains an orchard and mediaeval ponds.

Both Mowsbury Hillfort and Putnoe Woods are managed in conjunction with the friends of Putnoe Woods and Mowsbury Hillfort volunteers. 

Putnoe Wood and Mowsbury Hillfort website. 

Parkwood Local Nature Reserve

Located behind Brickhill Allotments off Brickhill Drive and accessed by a footpath running to the north west of the allotments. Parkwood is a local nature reserve which is a mix of woodland, scrub, wildflower areas, ponds and an orchard planted around the millennium with a predominant mix of Laxtons apples and pears which were developed by the Laxton family in Bedford.

The site is a haven for birds, butterflies and wildflowers. The footpath that runs through the site takes you out to Clapham Parkwood located to the north of the reserve.

A local volunteer group support with the upkeep of this area.

Pavenham Bury 

Once part of a large estate, all that remains now is a residual stand of very mature trees sandwiched between the main road through the village of Pavenham.

The trees are Laurel predominantly, but there is a specimen of Cork Oak to the rear of the plot. Pavenham Park Golf Club is nearby.

Putnoe Wood 

Located within Mowsbury Park, Putnoe Wood is a remnant of a much larger woodland area. It is ancient woodland which is first mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1089, and is a county wildlife site with a predominant mix of Oak, Ash and Hazel.

Putnoe Wood is a good example of a coppiced wood with the north side of the wood being continuously coppiced for many years leading to a rich mixture of spring flowers including snowdrops, bluebells, primrose and wood anemone. A good path allows access right around the wood, however cycling is not permitted.

Yelnow New Wood

Covering 39 hectares of formerly arable land, Yelnow New Wood is a 45 year old plantation of mixed deciduous and conifer woodland.

It is located off Yelnow Lane, Sharnbrook, adjacent to the privately owned Odell Great Wood.

The site is remote and ground conditions of the lane can become inaccessible in poor weather due to heavy clay soil. 

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