The nature reserve at Castor Hanglands was established in 1953 and comprises 220 acres of grassland, scrub, ponds and trees.
It is an oasis of green in an intensively farmed landscape.
Walk amongst its ancient woodlands with their medieval boundary banks, the flowery heaths and commons still showing their 700 year old cultivation ridges, and you are stepping back in time to a world now almost gone.
Main habitats include woodland, limestone grassland and scrub
Among the rare plants found here are crested cow-wheat, lesser water-plantain, man orchid and narrow-leaved water dropwort.
Woodland butterflies present include silver-washed fritillary, purple hairstreak and white admiral. The rare black hairstreak butterfly is best seen around the blackthorn scrub in June.
Dense thickets of scrub provide a habitat for summer migrant birds: nightingale, garden warbler, grasshopper warbler and turtle dove. In the woodland, all 3 British woodpeckers occur along with woodcock and the elusive hawfinch. Grass snakes are often seen by the ponds and harvest mouse occurs in the rough grassland on the heath.
Further information about the NNR, its wildlife by season, land management techniques, special features, and history and culture is on Natural England’s Castor Hanglands pages on the National Archives.
The Hanglands are situated 2 miles north of the village of Ailsworth village, 4 miles west of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.
A Public Bridleway runs north-south through the length of the reserve, and another crosses east-west, connecting with the parking area at Southey Wood. Horse riding and cycling are permitted only on the bridleways