Barton Gravel Pit - Henry Stanier

Barton Gravel Pit - Henry Stanier

Barton Gravel Pit

A small gravel pit now a safe haven for chalk grassland

Location

3/4 of a mile east of
Barton-le-Clay
Bedfordshire
A static map of Barton Gravel Pit

Know before you go

Size
1 hectare

Entry fee

No

Grazing animals

No

Walking trails

Dry chalky ploughed field, rough grassy track, difficult when wet.

Access

Take B655 from Barton-le-Clay towards Hitchin. On the right-hand side of road before Hexton village look for a sign for public bridleway.

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

May to June, July to September

About the reserve

Wildflowers were once common in our cornfields, but modern pesticides have all but eradicated them in an attempt to 'clean up' crops. Not so in this former quarry, which may be small but it is an oasis for many plants that were once common along field edges throughout the county.

The floor of the former pit has been filled in to raise the level to that of the surrounding fields. The ground is cultivated annually to mimic the conditions of traditional farming, but no cereal crops are grown, nor fertilisers used. This disturbance encourages annual plants to thrive including Venus's-looking-glass, knotted hedge-parsley and various species of poppy. Ground pine keeps a precarious grip on the margins of the pit.

The chalk grassland of the undisturbed areas are a blaze of colour in late summer with knapweed and scabious attracting insects to feed on their nectar. The rare great pignut also grows here. Mature beech trees provide the right conditions for the white helleborine orchid to survive.  

Contact us

Contact number: 01234 364213

Environmental designation

County Wildlife Site