Hampton Nature Reserve (also called Orton Pit) is a 300 acre private site which lies to the south of Peterborough and is one of the last remnants of former brick clay workings in the area (mass production of bricks took place from the 1940s 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. This private Reserve area includes a 12 hectare mature woodland named Jones’ Covert. This woodland was traditionally managed to provide cover for game, such as pheasants, for shooting.
Hampton Nature Reserve is home to a wide range of wildlife including great crested newts, slow worms, grass snakes, dragonflies and butterflies. The ponds are rich with invertebrates and a great variety of birds can be seen around the area. We also have a number of mammal visitors, including badgers, deer and water voles. Great crested newts are present in exceptionally high numbers due to the abundance of breeding ponds and excellent terrestrial habitat. Several species of stonewort are also present including the protected bearded stonewort Chara canescens. Due to the presence of protected species, the site is legally protected as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Natura 2000 site, and as such is a private site closed to the public.
Froglife have carried out several projects, most importantly the pond restoration project funded by Natural England which aimed to restore late succession ponds for bearded stonewort. In addition, Froglife carry out annual surveys to determine the long term condition of great crested newt populations.
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.
The site is not open to the public, but you can become involved in volunteering to help maintain the site by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or enjoy a visit through one of our organised events.
Froglife has managed the Reserve since 2003, on behalf of landowners Value Nature Ltd, part of the O&H Group.
We are lucky enough to have a fantastic team of dedicated volunteers to help us manage Hampton Nature Reserve, getting stuck into practical jobs in the winter and assisting with surveys over the summer.
Hampton Nature Reserve volunteers meet regularly to carry out maintenance, practical habitat management and surveying on the Reserve.
As well as playing an important part in conserving the habitat to benefit the various species living there, it is also a great way to relieve stress, meet like-minded people and get some exercise!
There are no special requirements and anyone can join in, we just ask that under-18s are accompanied by a parent or guardian and for everyone to let us know if they’re coming (that way we can let you know where to meet or if there are any changes/cancellations).
Please wear outdoor clothes, strong footwear and bring waterproofs or sunscreen as appropriate. We’ll provide tea and coffee (and biscuits, of course!) but please bring your own lunch. Please note there are no toilets on site.
- Scrub clearance
- Creating egg-laying sites for grass snakes
- Pond management
- Creating hibernacula
- Species surveying (birds, butterflies and water voles, as well as amphibians and reptiles)
Watch a video about volunteering on the nature reserve here:
For information on our other Froglife-managed reserves, click here.