Moors Local Nature Reserve, Bishop's Waltham
An area of semi-natural woodland, fen and grassland and open water designated as a Site of Scientific Interest and is of national importance for its unusual habitat. The Moors is about ¼ mile south east of Bishop’s Waltham on the B2177 opposite Waltham Chase Mill. It is the main source of the Hamble River. Springs and streams feed a mill pond surrounded by a complex of woodland, fen and meadows. The main part of the Moors is managed by Hampshire County Council's Countryside Service and is open to the public.
Bishop's Waltham Nature Trail
A circular walk of about two miles around the countryside immediately to the east of Bishop's Waltham.
The Mill Pond
Waltham Chase Mill, the East Mill of medieval Waltham, almost certainly occupies one of the sites listed in the Domesday Book and was in operation until 1957. The Mill Pond and surrounding fen, known as The Moors, is a Local Nature Reserve managed by Hampshire County Council's Countryside Service, with assistance from the local community and funding from the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
The Moors is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is a wetland of national importance for its wildflowers. The meadow to the west of the Mill Pond is managed in a traditional way, being cut for hay and grazed by cattle. Orange Tip and Green-veined White butterflies lay their eggs on Lady's-smock flowers in May. Other spring wild flowers typical of damp, herb rich meadows include Water Avens, King Cups and the scarce Bistort. The Mill Pond is a good spot to see Kingfishers, Dabchicks and Emperor dragonflies.
Park at Hoe Road Cemetery and walk across the road towards Bishop's Waltham. After 50 metres go left across a stile and along a grassy path between hedges. This path opens out into Hoe Road meadows and follows the hedge on the left through two fields. These are fine meadows managed in the traditional way, the first being a Hampshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. A very impressive array of grasses can be seen in profusion in spring/early summer with meadow flowers such as Scabious, Ox-eye Daisy, Wild Carrot, Pepper Saxifrage and Green-winged Orchid. Hedgerows with mature trees give seclusion and tranquillity. Watch out for berry-feeding birds in autumn/winter such as Fieldfares and Redwings. In summer these meadows abound with insects such as Long-winged Coreheads (a type of grasshopper) and Common Blue Butterflies.
On leaving the second meadow go along a woodland strip alongside a damp meadow which has clumps of rank grass. Look out for Moschatel (Town Hall Clock) in early Spring under the Oak tree. Turn left across a field between post-and-wire fences; you may see hardy Highland Cattle grazing.
Go over a stile and cross a narrow meadow, similar to those off Hoe Road and into a woodland. Immediately on the right you will see a pond, home to numerous frogs in summer. The path continues along the edge of the woodland, which as a variety of native trees dominated by oak and hazel. Turn right into Paradise Lane. The hedges and scrubby trees along the lane provide home to many birds including Chaffinch, Robin and Wren.
Turn right along the main road. On the right after 250m is a fine mill pond, full of wildlife interest, a good place to see dragonflies. There are some impressive tussock sedges by the pond which have taken years to develop. The pond feeds Chase Mill - the water wheels can still be seen alongside the building on the other side of the road, together with an impressive fall of water. Keep your eyes open for Grey Wagtails around the mill.
Continue along the road and turn right through a kissing gate into The Moors, one of the finest inland wetland sites in Hampshire. It contains the main source of the River Hamble. A wonderful combination of wet woodland, meadows and fens, it boasts a huge range of flowering plants including 5 orchids plus Marsh Helleborine, Meadowsweet Fleabane and Ragged Robin. Snipe, Water Rail and Siskin may be see in winter. Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and all three species of Woodpeckers breed in the woodland. (The uncommon Essex Skipper butterfly may be seen near the path). This roadside contain quantities of Lady's Smock which supports a big population of the Orange Tip butterfly. The path goes past the spring-head pond with its unusual feature of 'sand boils' where spring water wells up through the sandy bed of the pond.
Cross the wooden bridge into another meadow and follow the path around to the right, parallel to the woodland edge. In summer you may see Marbles White and Essex Skipper butterflies here. The Pepper Saxifrage can be found growing here in the summer. Go through a gate onto the path which runs parallel to the edge of the woodland. In places a boardwalk has been provided across wet hollows. On the right you can see alder and willow trees which indicate that the woodland is on wet ground and an old boundary bank with very old oak trees growing. (Patches of wild garlic - and Bluebells grow on the old bank).
At the end of the woodland go left on to the public footpath which runs parallel past the recreation ground, and follow it along the field boundary; this is the second meadow encountered earlier in the walk. In July and August you may see Purple Hairstreak butterflies flying high in the oak trees on the boundary. At the corner of the field turn left and follow the path back to the car.