A walk around Swaddywell
Park in the car park at the entrance to the reserve, just off the road that runs between Marholm and Ufford and walk through the pedestrian gate out into the main meadow.
In spring, the meadow is alive with the sound of the skylark, rising up from the grassland to the skies above. As you look up in the sky, searching for the songster, keep an eye out for birds of prey too, kestrels often hover above the meadow while kites and buzzards soar overhead.
Walk along the fence line and then turn right along the track to the eastern boundary of the reserve, before going over the stile and heading north down the public footpath with the reserve fence line on your left. As you walk through the meadow look out for the bright purple of the orchids, near the stile. At this time of year, you can find common spotted and early purple orchids, later in the summer the field is full of pyramidal and bee orchids too.
At the bottom of the footpath, go back over the stile on your left and follow the paths through the reserve till you emerge on the paved roadway. You might see or hear the green woodpecker at any stage of your walk and there’s a high chance of hearing whitethroat, yellowhammer and chaffinch singing from the hedges and bramble patches.
Once on the roadway follow it down to the bottom of the pit, through another gate and with the cabin on your right.
In May look out for the elusive grizzled skipper, a scarce and beautiful little butterfly, that does literally skip from flower to flower, particularly in the bare areas where the race-track used to be.
Viewpoint over the reserve
The path goes along the board-walk by the quarry faces and then round the back of the main pond, before rising up to a viewpoint over the reserve.
As you pass close to the ponds check out the dragonflies, particularly noticeable are the large, aggressive emperor dragonflies, but also at this time of year you can find the smaller and drabber hairy dragonfly which makes a lot of noise as it bumps around clumsily in the pondside vegetation.
At the viewpoint look over the ponds and reedbeds you might see characteristic birds such as the reed bunting and more common butterflies such as small tortoiseshell and red admiral.
Descend from the viewpoint and follow the path that winds below the northern quarry face and then enters a small birch wood, rising and falling until you come out in front of the visitor cabin. There are often signs of badger in this area, you can see their latrines, small scrapes in the ground full of badger dung!
As you pass the cabin take a look at the new pond, created by Langdyke in 2012. Marsh marigolds grow around the pond and if you are lucky you might see either a common or a great crested newt rising to the surface of the pond to take in air!
Then follow the roadway back up through the meadow to the main entrance gate, branching off to the left to follow the fence line back to the car park.
As you go notice the field rose growing by the roadway and look out for the elegant grass vetchling, its single deep-red flowers almost glowing in the green grassland.
And you’re back at the start – we hope you enjoyed the walk!
Swaddywell location: The reserve is next to the Stamford Stone company.
Dogs: Please note that dogs are welcome on the reserve but should be kept on a lead at all times, thank you.
Note: This walk was written with Spring in mind – but it can be enjoyed throughout the year.