History & Species
Hampton Nature Reserve lies to the south of Peterborough and is one of the last remnants of a former brick clay workings in the area. Mass production of bricks, using machinery, took place from the 1940s right up until the 1990s. The brick clay extraction formed a series of linear spoil heaps and trenches which make up a large area of the Reserve. Over the years these spoil heaps have grown over with grasses and sparse scrub and the hollows have filled up with rain water to form 320 ponds.
Great Crested Newts moved in to the site due to the abundance of breeding ponds and excellent terrestrial habitat. Several species of stonewort (an algae-like plant) also colonised the water bodies, including the protected Bearded Stonewort Chara canescens. The newts, together with the presence of the stonewort species led to the site being designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and in 2004 a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) (known as Orton Pits SAC).
The Reserve area also includes a 12ha mature woodland called Jones’ Covert. This woodland was traditionally managed to provide cover for game, such as pheasants, for shooting.
The history of the site goes back much further than brick-making – numerous marine fossils were discovered as the clay was extracted. These fossils date back 150 million years to the Jurassic period, when Cambridgeshire was under the sea. Due to the abundance of fossils the Reserve has also been identified as a Regionally Important Geological Site (RIGS) in the Peterborough Geology Audit.
Froglife now manages the Reserve, on behalf of landowners O&H Hampton Ltd.
Hampton Nature Reserve is home to a wide range of wildlife, not just amphibians and reptiles. In summer the site teems with dragonflies and butterflies, the ponds are rich with invertebrates and plants, and a great variety of birds can be spotted around the area. We also have a number of mammal visitors, including deer and Water Voles.