The nature reserve at Castor Hanglands, two miles south of Helpston, was established in 1953. The reserve comprises 220 acres of grassland, scrub, ponds and woodland.
The area is thought to have been woodland for over a thousand years. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book – the name ‘hangra’ is old English for a wood on a hill. The woods later became part of the Medieval hunting forest of Nassaburgh.
The Hanglands are a wonderful place in high summer with many butterflies, including purple and black hairstreak and white admiral. All three species of British newt and eighteen species of dragonfly have been recorded and the heath boasts a profusion of wild flowers including marsh orchid in the wetland areas and rock rose, harebell, yellow (or hay) rattle and ox eye daisy on the heath.
At dusk the song of the nightingale [click to listen] resounds across the heath and grasshopper warblers [click to listen] reel away in the newly planted woodland to the east of the reserve. This is a local stronghold too of the cuckoo [click to hear]. If you click on all three links you can hear a typical Hanglands evening chorus.
The cuckoo like a hawk in flight
With narrow pointed wings
Wews oer our heads – soon out of sight
And as she flies she sings
To reach the Hanglands travel south out of Helpston along Heath Road for one mile and straight on at the cross roads. You can park on the right either two hundred yards past the cross roads and walk up to the reserve along the track heading west or at the larger lay by, another 300 yards further south. Car crime is a problem in this area, so take care to leave nothing on display.