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Fourteen parishes back scheme


John Clare Countryside update by Richard Astle



We are hearing so much at the moment about the crisis that is facing our natural world, fueled by the emotive programmes of David Attenborough and the new “Earthshot prizes” that Prince William is backing. 

There is a real sense that we have to act now if we are to have any chance of helping nature recover and avoiding mass extinctions across the planet. 

And those extinctions are very definitely not just happening in the coral seas or the rainforests.  Right here in Langdyke country we are losing our cuckoos and our swifts all too rapidly.  Once common birds are now scarce and many butterflies are far rarer than they were even 20 years ago. 

And did you know that the once abundant European eel, which can wriggle its way up into the ponds and brooks of Castor Hanglands as part of its epic voyage from the West Indies, has declined by 94 per cent!  Wow.

So, do we wring our hands and hope that Sir David and Prince William can sort it out for us?

Not at all – across the area, fourteen of our parishes have now signed up to create parish nature recovery plans and teams of local people are meeting to discuss what actions we can take locally to restore nature and help wildlife thrive in our villages and across the wider countryside. 

Bainton and Ashton residents are creating mini wildlife meadows and planting trees and native shrubs to give winter berries for birds and spring blossoms for pollinators, while the Castor team are looking at meadow creation along Splash Lane. 

In Peakirk they are preparing to sow pollinating plants by the village hall and in Glinton there are ideas for creating wildlife meadows along the main roads into the village.

These are all small, but very important steps.  The power of this local approach is that residents are leading the way – we aren’t waiting for the Council or a national charity to show us what to do.  And as residents we take pride in our countryside and our villages and can keep an eye on what is being planted and manage it in the future too.

Each of these parish plans will need people to help volunteer to plant trees and hedges, create wildflower strips, conduct surveys and manage the sites on an annual basis.  If you would like to get involved please email me and I will put you in touch with the team in your parish.  You will have the satisfaction of making a difference to your local area and being part of a global effort.  If you value nature, this is your chance to make a real difference.

The parish nature recovery plans are part of the overall John Clare Countryside project which involves all the parishes and key organisations such as Langdyke, PECT, Nene Park Trust, Sacrewell Farm, Natural England and the Wildlife Trusts.  You can find out more details here  

Richard Astle
Chair, Langdyke Countryside Trust

Carry is our next guest

The next online talk will take place on Wednesday, June 3 featuring Carry Akroyd – long term John Clare supporter and highly regarded painter.

She is the latest of our guests who will be answering questions and talking about nature matters as part of the Langdyke online events programme using the Zoom experience.

Carry is a painter and printmaker living in Northamptonshire. Landscape is her usual subject, and as a bird-noticer, they usually fly into the pictures.

She is also the current President of the John Clare Society.

To take part in this session, which starts at 5pm, you need to click on the link below.  You do not need to load any software on to your computer to take part.  The session will not be open until 5pm on June 3 and will last about an hour.

This is the link:

The next online session will be on Wednesday, June 17 and will feature a conversation with Josh Jones, wildlife journalist, writer for Bird Guides and a local expert.

Lost Manor dig continues

The search for Ufford’s lost manor  continues over the weekend of Saturday February 29 and Sunday March 1.

Members of Langdyke’s  History  and Archaeology group (HAG) will be resuming their work in a bid to find out more about the site at Downhall Wood in Ufford.

The area appears to be the site of a manor house abandoned in the late 1600’s and now completely hidden above ground.

Anyone interested should meet at at Torpel cabin at 9.30 on the Saturday, with the intention to finish at 4.30. Sunday meet at 10.00 and finish for 4.00.

All are welcome for all or part of either day, though please book in advance to allow for planning. No previous experience required and all equipment supplied, just bring enthusiasm and a packed lunch!!

Refreshments available at Torpel cabin. There is no shelter at the wood so please dress appropriately.

There may well be a video research student along from York University.

You can contact Mike Clatworthy on 01780 764062.  Alternatively email:

Visit to newest reserve

There is  a chance to visit Langdyke’s newest reserve – Marholm Field Bank, on Monday July 1 at 4pm.

There have been two work parties there over the winter, to take out all of the invasive scrub that was threatening to overshadow the amazing array of wildflowers that have established themselves there over the last thirty years.

The site is owned by Highways England and there is no public access, so this is one of those rare opportunities when visitors are able to get on site and have a look around to see just how much better the place is with all of the hard work.

Mike Horne says: “To help us celebrate the success, tea, coffee and cake will be served free of charge, and all you need to do is to turn up with a smile and enjoy wandering through a very lovely display of wildflowers. (Please email me if you’re not sure of the location.)” Mike.Horne@langdyke,

How to get there

If you’re driving, please park on the old Peterborough Road (down towards Ferry Bridge) and walk back up and over the bridge. The road verges near the site are also pretty amazing when it comes to orchids and other wildflowers, and it’d be too ironic for words if we managed to crush all the orchids and other amazing wildflowers on the verges by parking our cars on top of them when going along to appreciate all the orchids and other amazing wildflowers on the reserve!

Mike has recently been informed that the site has been entered into a national competition – the ‘Big Biodiversity Challenge’ award, by our friends at Kier, for all of the great work that’s been  done .Check out the link to the competitions website;