Fancott Meadows, Toddington
"Set within a ring of tall trees, giving this site a secluded and old fashioned feel."
- Oliver Burke, The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire
Teeming with wildlife, the meadow is home to an extraordinary range of flowers. Cowslips and adder's tongue fern emerge in the spring, followed by ragged-robin and great burnet. Even the grasses of the old pasture are special with quaking-grass and sweet vernal grass indicating its traditional nature. Before the Trust acquired the site in 2007/08 it had been managed for many years through slightly damaging forms of horse grazing. Nowadays it is grazed by a distinctive mix of Redpoll cattle and Hebridean sheep, which are more sympathetic to the needs of the meadow and its wildlife.
How to get there
Park in Chalton village and follow footpath to the reserve.
Species to spot
Best time to see: April - Aug.
The bulbous, blood-red heads of this member of the rose family often indicate a floodplain meadow. The name burnet comes from the Old French for 'dark brown' - the same source as 'brunette'.
A small breed which often grows two pairs of horns. Their wool is coarse and black, fading to brown in sunlight and grey with age. Able to thrive in rough grazing conditions, they are good choice for controlling scrub. Image © Adam Somerville/CC BY-SA