Close Sartfield, Ballaugh

Coronation Meadow

Close Sartfield lies on the northwest edge of the Ballaugh Curragh, the Island’s largest wetland. A wonderful display of orchids can be seen in the hay meadows from late May to July when tens of thousands of orchids are in bloom. Throughout the 20th century most of Close Sartfield was grazed by cattle and or cut for hay, with some of the fields being ploughed and growing crops. This system continued until the early 1980’s when the land was abandoned and received no management. In a short space of time scrub had invaded many of the fields and the site was quite overgrown. Since 1989, five of the fields have been returned to species-rich hay meadow being mown for hay and then grazed over the winter months. 

The hay is cut in August when many of the plants have flowered and set seed. Once the grass has grown back a small flock of sheep are brought onto the reserve. Whenever possible Loaghtan sheep are used, which are a rare breed and native to the Island. They are small and hardy and browse as well as graze so they are particularly suited to the habitats present on site. The sheep have access to the curragh where they are especially useful at keeping bramble and other scrub at bay.

Brown hares are a frequent site here and the reserve is a good place for bird watching - you might be lucky and see a henn harrier! Much of the reserve, including the main orchid meadow and the hide, is accessible for wheelchair users.

Header image (above) © Manx Wildlife Trust 

Species to spot



  • Common spotted-orchid

    Best time to see: June - July

    Our most common orchid enlivens many places, particularly chalk and limestone downs. Its flowers can vary from deep to light pink and the leaves are marked with spots. 

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  • Manx Loaghtan

    A short-tailed primitive breed that grazed the slopes and uplands of the Isle of Man - areas where more developed sheep would not survive. By the 1950s numbers of the introduction of other hill breeds meant it was in danger of extinction. The dedication of a few enthusiasts saved it and while still rare there are now several flocks. Image by Chris Bramhall.

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  • Meadowsweet

    Best time to see: June - Sept.

    This frothy wild flower has a scent not unlike marzipan. Its sap contains the chemical responsible for aspirin and was in fact used as a medicine in Medieval times. Image © Plantlife/Andrew Gagg

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  • Common knapweed

    Best time to see: June - Sept

    A thistle-like plant also known as 'black knapweed', although its flowers are actually bright pink. It is a popular source of nectar for the Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Painted Lady and many other butterflies.

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  • Devil’s-bit scabious

    Best time to see: June - Sept.

    A pink pin-cushion-like flower which our ancestors believed cured scabies (hence "scabious"). It has short, stubby roots which - according to legend - were bitten off by the Devil to prevent its healing powers.

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Managed by

Manx Wildlife Trust