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Nea Meadows Local Nature Reserve

A wildlife rich, former parkland site, situated close to the village of Highcliffe.

Site description

Nea Meadows is situated to the East of Christchurch Borough, within the Nea Ward and close to the village of Highcliffe. The area comprises of a variety of natural habitats including mixed meadow, wetland and woodland as well as formal recreation. The site is surrounded by residential development. Designated as a public open space, Nea Meadows is currently managed for nature conservation and recreation. It also incorporates a flood defence measure.

Historical information

Nea Meadows is part of the former grounds of a large 18th Century estate, existing as formal parkland in the demesne of Nea House, which was demolished in 1940. Landscaping, wooded areas, some standard trees, ornamental species and remnants of the original fish pond survive from this period.

Environmental information

At 5.5 hectares, the site is relatively small in terms of nature conservation. However it is ideal as an educational resource and forms an important stepping stone for migratory species, along the Highcliffe to Christchurch Harbour wildlife corridor. The site is also high in wildflower diversity with over 250 species recorded. The site was formerly declared as a local nature reserve (LNR) on 24 July 2005.

Other information

The main lake at Nea is relatively new (1987-88) and was constructed with the primary purpose of being a flood defence measure. Although its overall species diversity is low, the lake contains a variety of coarse fish.

The rights to fish the lake are owned by Christchurch Angling Club and fishing on the lake is restricted to CAC members. There is also a section of the lake that has been designated as a sensitive wildlife area where angling is not permitted.

Highcliffe Bowling Club has been based at Nea Meadows since 1975. The club is forward looking with an excellent playing record and is fortunate to be located in the delightful surroundings of the nature reserve. There are opportunities to join as bowling or social members. For further information please contact the General Secretary: gensec@highcliffebowlingclub.org.uk

The Friends of Nea Meadows and the Nea Meadows Advisory Panel were formed in 1997. The former arranges regular public meetings (attended by a Countryside Officer) to discuss and hopefully resolve any concerns or problems. The latter consists of representatives of users group and the council.

Nea Meadows is recognised for good management. Recent grant funding has seen general improvements to access,  including repairs to bridges and upgraded paths. This will continue during 2018.

Owner: Christchurch Borough Council

Grid reference: SZ200937

Managed by: Christchurch & East Dorset Countryside Team

Nearest town: Christchurch / Highcliffe

Size(Ha): 5.5

Nearest bus stop:

Morebus routes X1/X2 - Carisbrooke Way

Nearest train station: Hinton Admiral

Habitats: Mixed meadow, wetland and woodland as well as formal recreation

Look out for: Kingfisher, Emperor Dragonfly, Broad-leaved Helleborine, Marbled White butterfly, Little Egret

Parking: Main car park from Smugglers Lane South

Accessibility: Gravel paths around some of the site. Meadow areas are partially sloping and ground can be slippery in wet/icy conditions

Facilities: Nearest public toilets at Highcliffe Castle. Good provision of seating around site. Interpretation panels at main entrances. Car parks holds 25 cars.

How to get there: By foot from Highcliffe village centre or Hinton Admiral train station. Bus route 121 runs close to site. The car park can be busy during bowls matches.

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