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Your site for information on the Cambridgeshire village of Isleham


Isleham Local Nature Reserve & Community Orchard

June 2012 (article from the Informer)

Spring has arrived and the blossom is on the trees and with all the rain we have had lately, everything is beginning to grow. Wildlife is starting to appear with the odd butterfly and even a few snakes trying to warm themselves in the sun. One new addition to the Reserve is a new white board, which has been situated on the gate in the car park. The board is in place so we can record any interesting sightings such as snakes, lizards and birds.This year we are organising a few events, one being Gala Day on the 7th July. On this day we will be holding a stall, which will have lots of information for you all to look at and maybe the odd thing to buy. Also we will be holding a Fun Day with the Children’s Centre, where you will be able to bring all the family. We will have bug hunting, and many more activities for the children. You can even bring a picnic. Lastly, on 18th September we are getting together with Iain Webb from the wildlife trust to run a Bat Night with the Cubs and Guides from the village. Last year we had a great time and even had a few cubs being invested on the reserve. Please do look out for more events when they arise, like the odd guided walk. At our last meeting we had our Cambridge Outreach Biodiversity Officer, Jane Andrews-Gauvain join us; she is trying to compile a map of what animals and plants live around Isleham, amongst other areas, and has produced some record sheets to send in data by computer or snail-mail. If you notice any unusual animals, e.g. cuckoo, elephant etc., then please make a note of the location, date and time and let her know on 01954 713572 or ask for your own files or sheets to send in the data. If you notice them at the Reserve you can always write them down on the Noticeboard up there – with a non-permanent pen please.

If you are interested in becoming more involved in the Friends of Isleham Nature Reserves then we are having our next meeting on 25th June, 7.30pm at the Social Centre, opposite the church. Here are the dates for our following meetings 16th July, 17th September, 19th November and lastly 21st January 2013 (all are on

a Monday nights at the social centre.)

We are a friendly group of all ages so please don’t be worried about popping along; we would love to see you.

Andrew Garbett (07903 092899)

Alastair Burn (01638 780553)


January Newsletter


01638 780692

At a recent meeting I got the job of writing our newsletter to you. I am more a reserve user with Weasley our overweight Labrador (and a poor bird watcher). I am the man who used to sell the pond plants and set up ponds - hence the email address.

My first tip is if you have a pond, clean it now before the frogs and toads arrive. This can be just getting the mulch out of the bottom of the pond

with a net or the more drastic empty, sort, keep and clean. Most ponds would benefit from a haircut. Give me a shout if you need advice or help.

The Reserve has taken three steps forward and two back. One backward movement is the fly-tipping that has occurred twice in a week.

It will be removed but at ratepayer’s expense. I wonder what sort of person does this sort of dumping or who takes phone cable? The

message is we must be vigilant and aware. Perhaps we need to open up the view from the road.

Another step back is that Andrew , our Warden, is still incapacitated with nasty leg breaks. I am sure we all wish him a speedy recovery. Look out for someone prodding rabbit holes with crutches! Andrew’s speciality was early morning walks when he used to see Lizards basking in the

early sun on the newly exposed bank.

Now the forward movement. From the day the last train ran 50 years ago the war between footpath and vegetation has been ongoing. It was nice

and green looking but not the diversity that is required. Lots of lovely privet and blackthorn, but there is such a thing as over doing it. We do

not have Stick insects to eat the privet. The result has been the work parties in the last year have rolled back the vegetation to let the light in. What is good for lizards is good for dormant chalkland seeds. Last year I was introduced to a couple of new plants that have appeared. You may see a few areas where the moss has  been moved back. These are areas of try out if more varieties of seeds will

germinate from the bare soil. The increased variety of flowers seems to have kept the butterflies happy. Our next work party is on February 18th

if you want to give a hand to keep up the clearance momentum. Tools and tea provided. Contact Andrew on 07903 092 899 if you want any

further details.

Another step forward has been the care shown by many of the dog walkers in bagging it and binning it. The dog loo bin is increasingly been


The last step forwards seems to be more tits on the reserve in the area near the car park due to the bird feeders. Feel free to add to the fat balls, feeders and bird table. See if you can spot the two bird boxes. More are needed if you can make any. We have a Tawny Owl box waiting to go up at the far end of the reserve. It will look like a yard long slopping tube.

A link to a web site for good design and measurements is

It is very late when I am writing this but I cannot finish without mentioning other topics we covered at the meeting. These included Isleham Wash, Millennium Wood, The Community Orchard and the Village pond.

I hope you have great views of nature as spring emerges. I will be walking at dusk in Fordham Nature Reserve to look for Woodcock.

Tony Weston


27th June 2011

Dear All,

We are just emailing you all to let you know where we are regarding organising events for the future for the friends of Isleham Nature Reserves.

First: Gala Day on the 2nd of July. At this we will be holding a stall where we will be aiming to attract peoples' attention on what we are trying to do and encourage their interest in the reserve. Also at Gala Day we are thinking about holding a small draw with nature related items: for instance Helen has already been donated a day pass for the Petting Farm at the Lavender Farm in Norfolk; Alastair is offering a guided trip for up to 3 people  to go bird watching; and Avi and Tony have been building bird boxes and bee nest boxes which we can sell or use in the draw. So if you have or know of anything else we could add to this then please do let Helen  know asap.

Next we thought about joining in with the Big Butterfly Count. This is taking place nationwide in the last 2 weeks of July, so we are thinking about perhaps doing our own at the reserve to see what might be about. The date we had in mind for this is the 16th of July.

Lastly we are going to hold another Fun day at the reserve on the 23rd of July. This event is aimed at children, but it gives everyone a chance to come to the reserve and go bug hunting, arts and crafts for the kids with the children's centre and out door games. Or come and have a picnic and just have a lovely relaxing afternoon.

All of the above events are on Saturdays, so if you would like to come (or can can help with any of them or even all of them) then we would love to see you there.

Times will be confirmed later when we know.

Thank you

Alastair Burn (

and Helen and Andrew Garbutt (

Friends of Isleham Nature Reserves May 2011 (from the informer)

Firstly the Friends Group would just like to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have been supporting us over this past year. The BAG IT AND BIN IT campaign is doing really well and the site is looking great.

The one thing that did let the Reserve down was the fly tipping that took place in the car park. Thankfully this has now gone, but I would like to ask that if you do see any fly tipping at the Reserve to contact the Warden on 07903 092899 (this is our new mobile number). If you do see any fly tipping, the Council has asked that we DO NOT touch it but to just ring the warden and also call the District Council at Ely, who will then arrange for it to be dealt with, because hazardous objects – needles etc. – might be hidden.

Interesting wildlife recently spotted at the Reserve includes Orange Tip, Common Blue, Brimstone and Speckled Wood butterflies, lizards and various bird such as warblers. Please do keep your eye out for these and more.

A couple of things to look forward to this year are a stall at this year’s Gala Day, a Fun Day that we have organised with the Children’s Centre (if you don’t know, this is the group that do Tea and Toast at the Village Hall) that will also have ‘The Big Butterfly Count’. This will be in July, in the field at the Reserve.

If you would like to join our little army of volunteers who look after the Reserve, whether it’s helping at our work parties, helping with fundraising or if you would just like to have your say at our meetings then please do get in touch. Contact the warden on our mobile 07903 092899. There is also a Facebook page called ‘Friends of Isleham Nature Reserves’ and a blog: where you can add photos and any sightings you have seen while you have been there.

Lastly there is another big THANK YOU from me, for everyone that has helped me and the Reserve while I am out of action.

Andrew – Warden on behalf of Friends of Isleham Nature Reserves

14th March 2011

Dear Isleham Folk,

I will be leaving my post here at the County Council on Monday 21st March. I have a new job with the RSPB as a Brecks Projects Manager, based in Thetford and will be starting on Monday 4th April. After I leave your new contact at the County Council will be my manager, Philip Clark, Greenspaces Team Leader, who can be contacted via, or 01223 715686. Alastair Burn continues to be the chairman for the Friends of Isleham Nature Reserves.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to say thank you to you all. It has been a pleasure meeting you and working with you over the past 2 and a half years.

All the best,


10th February 2011

Dear All,

I've received several enquiries asking what you can do about the cuts at the County Council and who you could write to to express your views.

As the minutes from recent meetings suggest, the County Council is facing big cuts and the Environment department is being cut quite substantially. It is proposed that my post as Greenspace & Community Officer will go in May 2011. This will greatly affect the amount of support we can offer Friends groups, the amount of management work done on the LNRs and the amount of educational and community events that can be run. Most of the rest of the environment service (Environment Management & Climate Change department) at the County Council will go in April 2012. This will obviously have much wider implications for environmental activity in Cambridgeshire. The decision on these budget cuts will be made at a Council meeting on 15th February.

If you would like to write in and express your views you can write to your local County Councillor or to the Leader of the Council:

Cllr Jill Tuck (Leader of the Council)

Cambridgeshire County Council


Shire Hall

Castle Hill



Best Wishes


28th October 2010

Dear All,

We are running a 'Work Party Leadership' course in Isleham on Saturday 27th November 10am - 4.30pm. This is a great course and will enable you to lead a work party or just to gain some more skills in both leadership and in carrying out conservation work.

The course will be held at Isleham Village Hall and Isleham Local Nature Reserve. It is free to attend, you just need to bring your own packed lunch and suitable outdoor clothing and shoes.

If you're interested please contact me to book your place or to find out more by 10th November. There are limited places so do get in touch early to secure your place.

Best Wishes


20th August 2010

Dear All,

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow (Saturday) at the family event on Isleham Local Nature Reserve from 2-5pm!

Please also find minutes attached from our Friends of Isleham Nature Reserves meeting on Monday.

Please email me comments and opinions, particularly for those that couldn't make it.

In addition to the minutes, I have just received a project idea from a youth worker at Soham Village College. They would like to work with us at Isleham LNR and get some young people (13-15 year olds) involved with volunteering at the site for the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Anyone interested in this please drop me an email.

Also, Alastair Burn is hoping to arrange a guided walk at Isleham Washes in mind-September, please contact Alastair direct if you would like to join this-

Best Wishes


Green Tip: From 7 to 27 June 2010, take part in the Cambridge Cycle Challenge - a free, fun competition that encourages people to remember the joys of riding a bike. The aim of the workplace challenge is to get as many colleagues as possible to ride a bike for just 10 minutes over the three week challenge period, and there are lots of prizes available, just for taking part!  Register at

12th May 2010

Dear all,

Please find attached the minutes from the last Friends meeting we had in April... apologies they are a little late (I've been very busy at Somersham!) and do send me any amendments.

Important Note: Please email me if you DO NOT want your email address shared with other members of this group. It has been suggested by the Friends group that it would be useful to have each others contact details.

Dates for your diary...

-Friends of Isleham Nature Reserves Meeting: Monday 15th June, 7.30pm, meet at the car park to the Local Nature Reserve- outside meeting (Village Hall is booked in case of really bad weather!).

-Stall at Isleham Gala Day: Saturday 3rd July- volunteer to help on the stall or come and say hello to us!

-Guided Walk at Isleham local Nature Reserve: Monday 5th July, 7.30pm, everyone very welcome, including dogs!

Best Wishes


7th April 2010

Dear All,

The next Friends of Isleham Local Nature Reserve meeting will be on Monday 19th April 7.30pm in the Village Hall back room. Please come along and help look after Isleham's wildlife! The aim is to get the group properly set up as an official group at this meeting.

Please find agenda attached. (See above). Do contact me if there's anything else you want to put on the agenda. I have had some suggestions already and have stored these for the next meeting, when we will have all the admin bits involved with setting up the group out of the way.

Everyone is very welcome at this meeting, whether you've been before or not.

See you all on 19th!

Best Wishes Charlotte

Charlotte Lowry

Greenspace & Community Officer

Environment Management and Climate Change

Cambridgeshire County Council

Tel: 01223 715557

Mob: 07884 116606

Fax: 01223 475984

Add: Box CC1312, Castle Court, Shire Hall, Castle Hill, Cambridge CB3 0AP

10th March 2010

Hello All,

I've had a lot of comments from people via our Volunteer Warden and the Parish Council concerning the recent works at Isleham local Nature Reserve. The new track and car park have been laid and the fencing and gates into the field have been completed. The whilst working the contractors disturbed the ground and this became extremely muddy, this followed by a very wet few days caused very wet and muddy conditions down at the nature reserve. We apologise for the inconvenience this may have caused to visitors but we do hope these improvements will be better for the site in the long term. Work is also planned for Mach/April to finish this work by putting in some news gates into the old railway track and also laying some new surfacing underneath all the gates. When complete we hope the site will both look good and be more safe and secure. Meanwhile our Volunteer Warden will be putting down some wood chip to help with the mud, although it is already a lot drier down there compared to after the initial works. If there are any more comments of ideas please do feedback to me, the warden or do come along to our next Friends meeting on Monday 19th April 7.30pm, Isleham Village Hall back room.

Also, I'm really keen to have someone from Isleham attend the 'Work Party Leadership' course on Wednesday 17th March 9am - 4pm in Somersham.

When we come to look at how we want to do future wok party's it would be great to have someone in Isleham who can lead a work party, or train someone else to do this. Let me know if you think you could make it.

Thanks & Best Wishes


Charlotte Lowry

Greenspace & Community Officer

Environment Policy & Projects

Cambridgeshire County Council

Tel: 01223 715557  Mob: 07884 116606

Fax: 01223 475984

Add: Box CC1312, Castle Court, Shire Hall, Castle Hill, Cambridge CB3 0AP

Green Tip: Do you waste water by running the tap until it is cold? Why not save around 10 litres a day by filling a bottle and placing it in the fridge to cool? You can also save around 6 litres of water per minute by washing your vegetables in a bowl rather than under a running tap. For more water saving tips see:

22nd February 2010

Dear All,

We are running a 'Work Party Leadership Course' in March and hoped some of you would be able to join us. The course involves;

* Understand the key responsibilities of a leader and how to meet them.

* Explain the reasons for tool safety talks and practice their delivery.

* Practice techniques and skills, which help volunteers learn and enjoy the practical tasks and goals of the day.

* List five factors which leaders must take into account when leading a group of volunteers.

* Describe how to work in an inclusive manner.

* Implement and monitor Risk Assessments, and record amendments.

The date will either be Wednesday 17th March or Wednesday 31st March from 9.45am-4.30pm and will be based at Somersham, with both indoor and outdoor activities. This is a great opportunity to get some people trained up to lead work party's and is totally free for you. Please let me know if you are interested and which dates you can do by this Friday 26th February.

Thanks & Best Wishes



Visit the Friends of the Isleham Nature Reserve Blog Spot.

The blog has been set up to share news of events, wildlife sightings and photographs from the Friends of Isleham Nature Reserves.

Friends of Isleham Nature Reserve

A group established to maintain & monitor the local nature reserve located on the disused railway line on Fordham Road.

Meeting are held approx bimonthly either in The Beeches community centre or at the reserve. Please refer to the events calendar for meeting dates.

Warden:  Andrew 07903092899

All welcome       Face book page

Community Orchard Update April 2015

Most of the 36 trees in the Community Orchard were planted as whips in February 2013. They were sourced from EAOP. This is a nursery that specialises in East of England heritage fruit trees. We bought a mixture of culinary and dessert apples, choosing as many as possible that originated from near Isleham. These include a Morley’s Seedling which was first grown in Fordham, Chiver’s Delight from Histon and a Clapton Red from Wickambrook. There are some, however, from further afield – a Russet from Somerset, James Grieve from Scotland, Newton Wonder from Derbyshire and the ubiquitous Braeburn from New Zealand. Only one tree, a Bramley, has failed.

We intend to plant a replacement next winter. The orchard is a community orchard and, in addition to those who sponsored the trees, many people have helped in its management and maintenance. Clive Winters keeps the grass mown and has created a path around the trees. He also trims the hedging, tops up the water tank and generally keeps the site tidy. We are very grateful to Louise Parker, who has helped us by pruning the trees this year, and to Mervyn Crawford who made the attractive sign at the entrance to the site.

We recently acquired a small area of land adjacent to the orchards. Three concrete benches have been supplied by Brian Prince of JKH

Drainage, installed by SP Landscapes, with lettering by Mildenhall Monuments; all at no cost to the Parish Council; an extremely generous

and much appreciated gesture. When the grass has been mown a few times we hope this will provide a pleasant seating area.

At the present time we have someone designing an information board which will indicate the position of each tree. We are also having

engraved metal labels made.

It may be a year or two before the trees produce much fruit but, once the orchard is established, people will be free to take the apples. We

will put up a sign to indicate which trees have fruit that is ripe. JM