June in pictures

It’s been a fabulous month for nature across all of our reserves and this photo focus is a tribute to the skills of our members and Facebook friends.

Our image of the month for June hasn’t been taken by a member this time – it was snapped by Langdyke’s recently purchased trail camera.

It can be left positioned out to capture nature in all its glory.  And on this occasion  it was left near the pond at Swaddywell when this hare emerged after a refreshing dip.

The camera never stays in the same place for long.  So keep watching for more fabulous shots in future months. Thanks to Michael Jarman for the image.

Each month we select photographs taken by our members. They might not be technically perfect – but they sum up the events of that month. Here are some other images from June.

Steve Zealand was out at Etton-Maxey to capture the splendour of the summer solstice with this image.

Summer Solstice evening at Etton Maxey Photo: Steve Zealand



You can rely on Langdyke trustee and treasurer Brian Lawrence – a keen photographer – for some great images.  Here he has captured  a bee orchid and also just one of the hundreds – if not thousands – of pyramidal orchids at Etton-Maxey.

One of the hundreds – possibly thousands – of Pyramidal orchids at Etton-Maxey
A bee orchid at Etton-Maxey: Photo Brian Lawrence
















An early morning walk at Etton-Maxey resulted in Angela Trotter spotting boxing hares.  She didn’t manage to capture a photo – but this is one of the combatants.

Hare – Etton-Maxey: Photo: Angela Trotter



Here’s a wonderful picture of nature at work. Taken by Liam Boyle at Swaddywell

An amazing image from Swaddywell Photo: Liam Boyle









Summer means a haircut for the Langdyke flock of sheep.  This year it took place in early June after  the sheep had been rounded up from all the reserves and taken to Etton-Maxey. Most of them enjoyed the day – with the exception of a handful who refused to  play ball when Richard Astle, Mick Beeson and helpers tried to round them up.  They were sheared a few days later.

Sheep shearing time for the Langdyke flock Photo: Richard Astle
The sheep shearing team in action. Photo: Kathryn Parsons





And finally … come rain or shine the Langdyke teams of volunteers carry on the good work keeping the reserves in tip top condition.  Early June was noted for the rain.  Despite that the work carried on at Swaddywell as this photo by Sue Welch shows.
Ladies and gents – we salute you!

It’s wet – but the volunteers carry on with their work at Swaddywell regardless. Photo: Sue Welch

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,org.uk

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; https://www.bigchallenge.info/

Friday evening at Torpel

A performance of Romeo and Juliet, music, morris dancing and poetry renditions are just some of the highlights of Friday’s Langdyke 20th anniversary celebrations at Torpel Manor Field.

The Lamphouse Theatre Suitcase Shakespeare presentation of Romeo and Juliet is likely to be one of the key highlights of the evening.

Romeo and Juliet


The event – the first of two over the weekend- is between 6pm and 9pm on the Torpel site at the edge of Helpston.

The plan is to enjoy a summer’s evening on the site of Roger de Torpel’s Norman manor house with music, drama, poetry and Morris dancing.  Bring a picnic and something to sit on.  We will be providing some drinks in return for donations – beer, wine and soft drinks.

The programme for the evening in the paddock area around the Cabin is subject to change, but will run something like this:

6pm Opening of event  

6-9pm Refreshments and bring your own picnic

6-9pm Langdyke exhibition

6-8pm Arts workshop  (members only) in  the cabin

6-630pm Music with Dave Maylor

630-7pm Morris Dancing

7pm Guided walk of Torpel, tour of meadow

7-720pm Poetry with Kealey Mills and friends

720-750pm Music with Dave Maylor

8- 820pm Poetry with Kealey Mills and friends Cabin area 

820pm- Romeo and Juliet extracts

9pm Close

Please note; Parking is restricted, with some spaces at the Helpston Garden Centre, but access to the field is strictly on foot (or by bike).

If you come by car, you will need to park either at the garden centre or in the village and walk up to the reserve, entering along through the pedestrian gate off King Street.

There are toilets on site.

Saturday at Etton-Maxey

There will be something for all age groups at Saturday’s open day at Etton-Maxey reserve – the second day of this weekend’s activities to make Langdyke’s 20th anniversary.

The event, starting at 2pm and finishing at 5pm has a  a particular focus on family activities.

Attractions  include arts workshops, nature trails, bug hunts, pond-dipping and guided walks and exhibitions of fossils, some of which have been found on the site during earlier gravel extractions. There might even be a dinosaur (but only in mascot form).

Pyramidal orchid, one of many at the Etton-Maxey reserve, photographed by Brian Lawrence

And, of course, there are the many nature attractions on the site including hundreds of orchids.

Tarmac, who are sponsoring the event, will also be on hand to show how the reserve has come about following the company’s work there over the years. They are also bringing along a giant loader machine with prizes for guessing its weight.


The weather forecast for the weekend is for high temperatures.  There will be limited supplies of drinks, so you are advised to perhaps bring along some water (no single use plastic bottles please) and sunscreen.  Toilets will be on site.

The site can be reached by driving through Etton village on the main road towards Maxey.  Go past Etton church, over a bridge and then follow the road until you reach the site which will be signposted.

There is parking on site, through the gates off the road between Etton and Maxey (see map for details of the reserve). Please take care when you arrive at the site because there may be children making their way from the parking area.  A 5mph speed limit will be in force.

Finally, as part of our Langdyke Stories project we encourage you all to think of an object that reminds you of our local countryside and particularly the Langdyke reserves and bring this – or a photo of it – along to the Saturday event.  We will be publishing a collection of these images in our 20th anniversary book. Langdyke Stories is funded by the Peterborough Community Fund and organised by Art Pop-Up.

Map drawn by Peter Leverington
















Timings for Saturday are subject to change, but the plan is:

Bee Orchid, pictured by Brian Lawrence

2pm Opening of event
2-4.30pm Arts workshops in the main marquee
2-3pm Building a bug hotel
2-3.30pm Sweep netting
3.30-5pm Bug hunting
2-3.30pm Pond dipping
2-5pm Bird-identification 230pm and 330pm Guided walks Start from welcome table
4pm Nature treasure hunt from the Wildlife Trust stand
2-5pm Pop up poetry
2-5pm Wildlife Trust display
2-5pm Tarmac display
2-5pm Langdyke Trust display
2-5pm Fossil exhibition
2-5pm Museum of objects exhibition
5pm All events and stands close.

Heritage event in pictures

Langdyke had its own stand at the Peterborough Heritage Festival in the city centre.

The festival is the UK’s largest multi-period city centre living history  festival.

Langdyke volunteers – suppporting Artist in residence Kathryn Parsons – spent two days welcoming people, chatting about the trust and its work.

Here are some of the photos of the event taken by trustee and treasurer Brian Lawrence.

Kathryn Parsons with some of the artwork
David Cowcill welcoming visitors

Glow worms, lichen and Clare

Two fascinating nature reserves feature in Langdyke’s programme of events for July together with a walk in the footsteps of John Clare.

On Friday, July 12 you can join the search for glow worms around the Barnack Hills and Holes.  The reserve provides a great spot for catching a view of the little creatures.

The glow worm is not actually a worm, but a beetle. Males look like typical beetles, but the nightly glow of a female is unmistakeable – lighting up to attract a mate in the darkness of their grassland habitats.

To take part in this event please meet in the car park at the entrance to the reserve off Wittering Road, Barnack at 9pm. It is a good idea to take a torch.

On  July 14  ‘A Walk with John Clare’ will give you the opportunity to stroll along in the footsteps of the poet John Clare and learn about the landscape that featured in his poetry.

John Clare by William Hilton, oil on canvas 1820

This is a unique Langdyke joint event with the John Clare Society and John Clare Cottage and sets off at 1pm on the Sunday afternoon of the John Clare Festival in Helpston.

The five mile guided walk around the Helpston area will be led by Carry Akroyd of the John Clare Society and Langdyke’s David Cowcill.

The programme includes an introduction to Clare’s life and works with readings appropriate to the places he visited and commentary on the countryside he loved.

It includes a cream tea at the John Clare Cottage with the opportunity to undertake an audio tour of the cottage and gardens..

Places are strictly limited and bookings will be made on a first come, first-served basis and the cost per person is £9 – payable on the day. To find out more (including joining instructions) and to book your place, please contact Simon Bysshe by emailing sby121@btinternet.com  or ringing 01733 253164. Sorry: But this event is now fully booked.

On Sunday , July 21 there is another opportunity to visit the unique Bainton Heath (pictured, top) which is not open to the public.

A guided walk will give you the chance to see the unique content of this site, which includes a small wood and a large pond.

It is a former landfill site filled entirely with fly ash from northern coal-fired powerstations and the railways in the 1960s.

As a result many species of moss and lichen grow there which are not natural to Cambridgeshire – but are more northerly species.

The landfill area has grown over with dense scrub to the north gradually thinning out to open grassland in the south with some bare patches with lichens growing directly on the fly ash.

It is surrounded on three sides by mature mixed woodland with a good variety of large trees and shrubs.

It is currently the home of National Grid and supports two electricity distribution systems and a sub-station. Ironically, the tall pylons have become a home for wildlife.

As a result it is not open to the public and visits can only be made there for events like this one.

If you would like to take part please meet at the Torpel site at 2pm.  The plan is to drive from there to Bainton in as few cars as possible.

The bridge at Bainton Heath: Photo by David Cowcill

Our big art project

Meet Kathryn Parsons (pictured), Langdyke’s Artist in Residence – appointed to use her skills to bring a bit of colour to the Trust’s 20th birthday celebrations .

We asked her some questions about her new role. These are her
answers …

Q: How did the idea for the project come about?
A: The initial idea for Langdyke Stories grew out of a conversation with Richard Astle last autumn.  Langdyke has a long history of working with artists, and having ‘artists in residence’.  I was asked whether I might be interested – I said yes straight away!  The next step was to come up with some ideas to Langdyke’s Trustees and Committee.
It felt important to me to involve as many people as possible – Langdyke is all about people coming together to make things happen, and art can be a great way to reach people and help them connect with nature and each other.  That’s where the idea for a community art project came from.  I knew that community projects, where you’re working with lots of different groups, can be complex to manage so I suggested we talk to Sam Roddan of Art Pop-Up, who has a great deal of experience running highly successful art projects.  Happily Art Pop-Up agreed to take on the project, and so “Langdyke Stories” was born, with Art Pop-Up, Langdyke and me working in close collaboration. 

Q: How are things going?
A: The community artwork is now well underway, and in all we’ll be working with 300 people from our local community. Each person is going to create their own miniature artwork inspired by Langdyke’s nature and heritage.  These beautiful gems will be joined together and displayed at the 20th anniversary celebrations.  We’re using paper that has been coloured using a technique called eco-printing, using leaves from the Langdyke reserves to infuse the paper with colour …. I wanted to use eco-printing because of the gentle, relatively eco-friendly processes involved.
Langdyke Stories includes other elements too – we’ve launched a community history project, called The Museum of Objects. Also as Langdyke’s Artist in Residence I’m creating my own artworks for display at the celebrations, and Art Pop-Up will be publishing a beautiful souvenir Langdyke Stories anniversary book for Langdyke.  The book will be published in time for the September Langdyke Stories Celebration and annual meeting in Castor on September 13, and everyone that has contributed to the artwork will receive their own free copy.

Q: Where did the funding come from?
A:  Art Pop-Up secured the funding for the project from the Peterborough Community Fund and Athene Communications.  We’re very grateful to these organisations, and delighted to be able to say that this sponsorship and funding means that this project is not drawing on Langdyke funds.

Q: What are the main aims?
A: At the heart of Langdyke Stories is a desire to spread the news of Langdyke’s work to protect and nurture our local wildlife and heritage in a different, fun and enjoyable way.  The art workshops and the Museum of Objects are giving us opportunities to talk with local people about what Langdyke has achieved over the last 20 years.  We hope more people will become involved by visiting Langdyke’s reserves, coming to events and joining in work parties, becoming part of the Langdyke ‘family’, and that connections within the local community will be strengthened as a result.  Art activities are also a really good way for people to connect with the natural world, and that’s something very precious, especially these days.  We want Langdyke Stories to begin or reinforce people’s connection with Langdyke and the nature reserves, and for those connections to grow and flourish in the future.


Q: How will Langdyke Stories work?

A: Sam Roddan of Art Pop-Up is leading the project, in close collaboration with Langdyke.  As well as managing the project, Sam, who is an artist herself, will also be designing and publishing the Langdyke Stories book. I will be delivering the workshops as well as creating my own artworks that celebrate Langdyke’s stories – the people, plants, wildlife and heritage.  Art Pop-Up will also be running free artist-led workshops for visitors to Langdyke’s summer festival on 29th June.
The Museum of Objects is being led by one of Langdyke’s Trustees, David Cowcill. It was his magnificent idea, and he will be working with a small team of volunteers.
We have already put out a call for beautiful images of Langdyke’s landscape, people and nature – so if you have a photograph that you’d like to have considered for the book please email it to submissions@artpopup.co.uk

Q: How will the Museum of Objects work?

A: We’re inviting people to think of an object that says something about their connection with our local countryside, and bring it along to the Family Fun Day on June 29 , or the Peterborough Heritage Festival.  We’ll photograph the objects and collect the stories.  A small team will then choose their ‘top 10’ stories for inclusion in the Langdyke Stories book.
It feels to me that this part of the project links well with the work of Langdyke’s Heritage and Archaeology Group – they find out about historic connections with Langdyke countryside through the objects that they find…. and the Museum of Objects will do the same only without first having to bury the things for 100s of years!

Q: What will success look like?

A: Success will be.… more people that have heard of Langdyke, more people coming to events, visiting reserves and getting involved in Langdyke.  There will also be a legacy of groups coming together – new contacts being made because so many groups are working together, sometime for the first time…. and also a richer knowledge of our local countryside, its heritage and wildlife.

Q: What are the main events?
A:  Workshops are already underway with community groups.
At the Peterborough Heritage Festival we’ll be taking over Vivacity’s Unit in Queensgate (opposite McDonalds), with a drop-in Langdyke Stories workshop, poets reciting local-landscape-related poems, Langdyke information and an opportunity for people to bring along an object to be photographed for the Museum of Objects.
Other events include:
June 29 2-5pm – Langdyke’s Family Fun Day at Etton-Maxey – load happening as described before
September 13 Langdyke Stories Celebration and annual meeting in Castor will bring together all the artworks created this year, as well as all that Langdyke is planning with a line up of great speakers

Q: What’s happening at the open day?
A: It’ll be fun!  The community artwork will be displayed and visitors will have the opportunity to add to it, for display at the September Celebration.  Art Pop-Up are running free artist-led workshops, there will also be pond dipping, bug hunting, nature treasure hunts etc… all activities are for grownups as well as children!

Q: What’s happening at the Langdfyke Stories celebration and annual meeting event?
A: There will be an exhibition of the artworks created during the residency and Langdyke Stories project, free art workshops As well as talks by a host of eminent speakers.

Q: Tell us a little but about yourself and Art Pop-Up
A: From childhood I have always created and loved exploring different materials and techniques, finding out what they can do – from lace making to silversmithing, sugarcraft to printmaking.  I started off as a teacher in Primary then Further education, and eventually realised that although I still loved teaching, I wanted to shift my focus to creating my own artwork – using different materials and techniques to tell the stories that catch my attention and draw me in.  Usually my focus is on the small details of nature and the history of places – the people, plants and wildlife.  I suppose that’s why being Langdyke’s Artist in Residence resonates so deeply with me.  I’ve been a volunteer with the Trust for about 3 years now (I can’t remember exactly), and it’s a delight for me to be able to use my art to share the stories of how precious this area and this organisation are… to have the opportunity to share with other people some of stories about the rich wildlife and heritage that that Langdyke nurtures

Q: Anything else?
A: erm….. not that I can think of …

See us at heritage festival

Langdyke has its own stand at this weekend’s Peterborough Heritage Festival in the city centre on Saturday and Sunday.

The festival is the UK’s largest multi-period city centre living history  festival.

The Langdyke stand  will be in the Vivacity unit in Queensgate opposite the McDonalds entrance and right next to Cathedral Square where the main event is centred.

The theme of the main event this year is’Victorians’ marking 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria.

What’s happening at the LCT stand?

Langdyke volunteers – suppporting Artist in residence Kathryn Parsons – will be welcoming people, chatting about the trust and its work.

On view will be photo boards and information leaflets and flyers designed to encourage people to join the Trust.

Another key aim is to promote the Langdyke Museum of Objects book, due to be published at the annual meeting, full of memories about connections between nature and the people who visit the countryside. People are being encouraged to bring in objects so they can be photographed for the book.

Kathryn is running a drop-in workshop so people can come and add to our community artwork.  Everyone that adds to the artwork will get an invitation to our Saturday June event and if they come to the annual meeting they will get a free copy of the anniversary book.

A couple of poets will also be calling in to to read their poetry that relates to Langdyke countryside/nature

More details about the Peterborough Heritage Festival at https://vivacity.org/heritage/peterborough-heritage-festival-2019/


Two big birthday events

Plans for Langdyke’s 20th birthday celebrations later this year are progressing well.

The celebration programme includes a series of events designed to appeal to anyone who has an interest in the countryside around where they live.

And many of the happenings are aimed directly at giving the whole family a chance to enjoy time together in the countryside.

The highlight of the programme is a 20th anniversary weekend of events over the weekend of Friday, June 28 and Saturday, June 29.

We will be celebrating twenty years of positive local action for nature and heritage at our reserves and in the countryside surrounding them.

On the Friday our celebrations will centre around an evening festival at Torpel Manor Field on the outskirts of Helpston.

Between 6 and 9pm there will be music, poetry and nature and art workshops.  You are encouraged to bring your own picnic and enjoy a summer’s evening (weather permitting!) on a very special site.  The event is free to members with a small charge for non-members.

On the Saturday the fun moves to the Etton Maxey Pits Nature Reserve where between 2pm and 5pm there will be a variety of family events including pond-dipping, bug hunting, art workshops and nature trails. It’s free to members and all children.

More details will be announced soon, so keep watching this site.

What is Langdyke about?

Some observers have commented that Langdyke is an organisation just for bird watchers.  Not so.

The reserves it maintains and events it promotes for members – and non-members – gives everyone the chance to engage with nature in whatever form they want.

Whether it’s a family walk in the countryside, a summer picnic with wildlife, a chance to explore nature close up or the opportunity to burn off some of those calories by joining a countryside working party – there is something on offer for everyone.

Founded in 1999, Langdyke now manages seven nature reserves – a total of 180 acres of land – has more than 300 household members and even its own flock of sheep.

It is a purely voluntary organisation committed to making a difference to the countryside around us all.

Trust chairman Richard Astle, who lives in Helpston, wrote in the recent annual report: “We want to live in an area where nature is at the heart of our lives. Where swifts and swallows are a central feature of our summer evenings, where otters continue to enthral people as they play in the Maxey Cut, where bees and other insects thrive, not decline, and where there are far more, not less, ponds, meadows, wild flowers, hedgerows and trees.”

Although the organisation’s membership is thriving there is always room for more.  Anyone interested in joining can make contact through this website or the Langdyke Facebook page.

There is also the chance to get your hands dirty and make direct contact with nature by joining one of the working parties which meet weekly at Swaddywell and fortnightly at the Etton/Maxey reserves. They involve helping with a variety of tasks (the work isn’t back-breaking), making new friends and having a chat over a cuppa with like-minded people. There are also working events at Castor Hanglands and Barnack Hills and Holes.

You can usually find details of forthcoming working parties on the Langdyke Countryside Trust Facebook page.