Exploring nature in the Hamptons
Whether it’s rain or shine, the Hamptons are the place to be for nature. With more than 1,200 acres of green space, Hampton residents have an abundance of opportunities to get out of the house and explore the great outdoors.
A couple of protected areas are entirely inaccessible, such as the Kingston Park Nature Reserve just south of the Parkway, which is a carefully monitored habitat for Great Crested Newts, and also the Fletton Lakes Nature Reserve – although you can get a view across the latter from a viewing platform at the Ikea Distribution Centre.
The Fletton Lakes reserve has winter habitats for many species, ponds and brownfield land set aside to promote biodiversity. It is possible to walk along the west side of the site, but the east side of the lake (near the overhead power lines) is private property.
Hampton Nature Reserve
Once upon a time, in the Jurassic Age, the Hamptons was a tropical sea. Fossils that have been found at Hampton Nature Reserve led to its designation as a Regionally Important Geological Site (RIGS) in the Peterborough Geology Audit.
Hampton Nature Reserve is also a natural habitat for Europe’s largest population of Great Crested Newts, making it a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Spanning over 300 acres with more than 300 ponds, it also provides a habitat for at least 27 butterfly species, 18 species of dragonfly and a staggering 120 species of water beetle.
Due to its SSSI status, the Nature Reserve isn’t open to the general public, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely off bounds.
To protect this rare wildlife, national charity Froglife manages Hampton Nature Reserve. Froglife works alongside O&H Hampton, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Natural England to maintain the area and carry out interesting research studies.
Through Froglife, you can access Hampton Nature Reserve either as a volunteer or through one of their many organised events. This way you’re not at risk of disturbing or causing any damage to the wildlife and you can learn a great deal from the experts.
Stillwell’s Nature Reserve
A smaller nature reserve is open to the general public at Stillwell’s Lake, located just off the A15, north of the Parkway. You’ll also find access from Drakes Avenue, and a link goes out to the Ortons.
Over a 25 acre site there are multiple walkways and cycle routes, geocaching spots, a central lake (very popular with fishermen) and areas of open space for reptiles and other wildlife.
Crown Lakes Country Park
And of course there’s full public access to this lovely park. Home to more than 75,000 trees and shrubs and a vast population of animals, birds, insects and plant life, there’s plenty to explore at Crown Lakes Country Park. Look out for squirrels, wood mice, woodpeckers, lizards, newts, bats and much more.
Crown Lakes Country Park is open to all to enjoy. You are welcome to play games, have a picnic, bring your bike, go for a walk or even go for a horse ride down the dedicated bridleways. All we ask is you respect the Countryside Code.
Crown Lakes spans the equivalent of 88 football pitches so there’s plenty of space for friends and family. Local groups are welcome to use the space too. Just contact the O&H Hampton team to set something up.