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Purewell Meadows Local Nature Reserve

Purewell Meadows Nature Reserve in Christchurch, including information on its location and value to people and wildlife.

Purewell Meadows is a 14 hectare nature reserve comprising a series of wet meadows within the River Avon floodplain. The reserve is divided into two areas; 4 hectares of public open space and 10 hectares of a more secluded Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with no public access. The complex system of fields and ditches presents a range of plant habitats including wet acidic grassland over peat and more neutral damp grassland which are an integral component of the meadows of the Avon Valley. Part of the site was declared a Local Nature Reserve in July 2005.

Wet meadows, such as Purewell, are fast disappearing in lowland Britain. The meadows are dominated by grasses and sedges but also contain a number of flowering plants including Ragged Robin and Devil's-bit Scabious. The introduction of grazing in 2005 has helped increase the wildflower diversity. Several other interesting species are present, including: Great green bush-cricket, Green-winged orchid, Hornet robber fly and Raft spider.

After 15 years without grazing, the longer, coarse grasses began to threaten the diversity of wildflowers and sedges. To raise the quality and species diversity cattle were introduced to part of the site during 2002/03 but after difficulties were encountered this was postponed until 2005 when Galloway cattle were reintroduced. This followed works to remove much of the scrub that has encroached over 20 years, which helped get the majority of the site into a condition suitable for grazing.

Nearest town:Christchurch
Grid reference:SZ 167 932
Nearest postcode:BH23 3AB
Nearest train station:Christchurch
Nearest bus stop:Purewell Cross Road near Medical Centre and Normandy Drive

On road parking in Burton Road or Scot's Hill Lane (limited to 2 hours)

Accessibility:Generally flat ground with gravel paths. The site is low lying and can get very wet after rain
Habitat:Wet acidic grassland over peat, damp grassland and public green space
Look out for:Kestrel, Marbled white butterfly, Devil's bit Scabious, Marsh Marigold, Heath spotted orchid, Mother Shipton moth and Palmate Newts
Dogs allowed?Yes but under close control
Size:5.5 ha
Managed by:Christchurch Borough Council Countryside Service
Site designationsSites of Special Scientific Interest and Local Nature Reserve
What to do?A pleasant meadow walk on the public open space area of the reserve. The area that includes the SSSI is leased to the council and not open to general public access
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