Between Fleet and Cove
OS Map 186
Grid Refs. SU832560 (Bramshot Lane for Foxlease Meadows South); SU832572 (Foxlease Meadows North); SU824557 (Ancells Farm)
Client: Elliott Fairs, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
This is a complicated area, both in gaining access and in
understanding where it all is.
Foxlease Meadows make up part of the Minley Manor Ministry of Defence training area and are part of the Foxlease and Ancells Meadows Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). From 2003, Hampshire Wildlife Trust has had a ten year management agreement with Hampshire County Council for about 30 hectares of land south of the M3. 5.48 hectares of this land are classed as SSSI. This is the area we have usually worked on, and is what we should now call Foxlease Meadows South. Major tree-felling in this area is now complete.
The trust's Ancells Farm Reserve lies near the western end of the holding. Grazing animals are an essential part of the reserve's management, but there are times of the year when grazing is not desirable. The non-SSSI meadows in this area and at Foxlease Meadows provide valuable adjacent "lay-back" land.
Foxlease Meadows North is north of the M3. HIWWT has taken on the management of this area on behalf of the MOD. About 46 hectares are SSSI, in various separate parts.
There are a variety of habitats, which support a range of
flora and fauna. Most of the site is species rich, damp acid
grassland with plants such as Sneezewort and Devilsbit Scabious.
Foxlease Meadows are the best example of this type of habitat in
north Hampshire, and was the last stronghold for the Marsh
Fritillary butterfly in north-east Hampshire. There are also
areas of wet heath, which form a mosaic with mire communities in
the wetter areas.
The high structural and biological diversity are probably due to the site's history of light grazing and lack of agricultural improvement. Over 240 species of plant have been recorded, together with many invertebrate species.
Our task this weekend will be to clear back some more areas of birch to open them up and allow the grazing stock to do their business.
Meet at 10am by the reserve entrance on Ancells Road. From the M3, junction 4a head south towards Fleet on the A327 and then west along the A3013, which runs along side the railway line. At the Ancells Farm roundabout turn right into Ancells Road and go past Shire Avenue and Hanover Drive on your right and then left into Farm Drive and right into Falkner Close and park in the community centre car park by the Tesco Express. From here back to Ancells Road and the reserve entrance a little further up the road on your right.