North Meadow is 110 acres of ancient, uncultivated hay meadow, rich in wild flowers, which is in the care of English
Nature. Lying on the flood plain between the River Thames and River Churn North Meadow can often be flooded during the winter
It is early spring when North Meadow comes to life with the begining of a wonderful display of a great variety of wildflowers and grasses. Over eighty percent of the British population of the snake’s head fritillary growing here from April each year. This is a beautiful, scarce flower, which shows in early spring with colours of mauve or white. The banks of the rivers burst with the bright yellow clusters of marsh marigold, subtle pink cuckooflower, adder’s tongue fern's and marsh orchids mix with the snake’s head fritillaries. Ox-eyed daisies, the yellows of cowslip and meadow buttercup join the tremendous crop of grasses and flowers during the early summer months before local farmers harvest the grass for hay in July.
In the summer months, many insects join the wild plants, buzzing around the beautiful meadow, including brightly coloured butterflies, damselflies and regiments of beetles pushing through the dense jungle of grasses. Along the banks of the two rivers a host of birds such as reed buntings and sedge warblers can be found with swans grazing the meadows.
The people of Cricklade have managed North Meadow for hundreds of years and several ancient carved stones mark boundary positions at various points across the meadow separating the different owners of ancient hay lots.
Access is restricted to the public footpaths and there is roadside parking within 300 metres of the reserve. There is a disabled access gate at the site, although the reserve can become flooded during wet periods, so access is ill advised at these times. Access is at any reasonable time and is free.
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