Category Archives: Events

Forthcoming nature events

AGM this Monday at 7:30pm in Barnack Village Hall

A final reminder that the AGM for the “Friends” is being held this Monday 16th January at 7:30pm at Barnack Village Hall. Please come along and after a short business meeting hear about the near by Castor Hanglands reserve from Chris Gardener.

There will be the opportunity to browse through old newsletters, review the survey results for 2016 and examine how the reserve has changed over the last 80 years as recorded in various aerial photographs and images. You may also be interested in finding out how you can help with bringing up to date our fixed point photography records to illustrate the changes in more detail.

There will  be the opportunity over light refreshments to discuss the events being planned for 2017 and how you could contribute to the purposes of the organisation as described in recent posts.

Finally it provides you with the ideal opportunity to pay your 2017 membership subscription.

Purpose of the Friends – Promote Understanding of the Reserve

To maintain the quality of the flora and fauna and therefore the status of this very special place as a National Nature Reserve it is essential that the broad community of visitors understand the significance of the “Hills and Holes” in conservation terms.

Therefore the primary aim of the group is to inform and engage visitors and potential visitors with the significant aspects of the reserve. Especially how the reserve needs to be managed to ensure the fantastic diversity and significant populations of rare plants is maintained over the years and hopefully made more robust for future generations to enjoy.

This aim can be achieved by organising and providing  good publicity of events (e.g. annual glow worm walk, guided walks etc..). By good use of this website and facebook page and many other mechanisms that are available.

The organising, publicity and communication element of this is a key contribution you could help make to the success of the group, so please do get in touch with your ideas and offers to help or come along to the AGM on 16th January to find out more.

Purpose of the Friends – Raising Finance

All budgets are continuously under threat and Natural England’s is no exception. The time they can spend on the reserve and the funds they have available for specific projects will continue to decrease at least in the short to medium term. As a government agency they are restricted in what funding they can seek from other sources and organisations . These restrictions do not apply to the Friends.

We therefore have an opportunity to enhance the reserve with sourcing finances for specific projects that support Natural England’s management plan. Raising these funds and applying for grants and funding from other organisations is an extremely useful way you could help the reserve to flourish and improve without getting cold, wet or even your hands dirty (apart from perhaps the odd ink stain).

If you feel able to contribute in this aspect of work for the Friends then please contact us or to find out more come an join us at the AGM on 16th January.


Purpose of the Friends – Maintenance of the Reserve

To assist Natural England with the implementation of their Management Plan the “Friends” provide voluntary services assisting with such tasks as scrub clearance and undertaking regular routine checks of the functionality of the gates, fences  and other infrastructure throughout the year.

Peterborough Conservation Volunteers make regular visits to the site to assist with scrub clearance and joining these parties can be an ideal opportunity to find out more about our local nature reserves.

If you feel that you would like to contribute to these events and especially if you are able to co-ordinate these activities we would love to hear from you. If you would like to find out more then come and talk to us at the AGM on 16th January

Purpose of the Friends – Monitoring and Surveys

Over the past few years since its formation the Friends have assisted with the annual Man Orchid count in both good and foul weather! Last year we took on the challenge of the weekly Butterfly transects and we would like to continue to expand the role we play in providing and maintaining this historical data set.

With  continued cuts to Natural England’s budget their capacity to continue with the detailed surveys of Orchid species that have taken place annually sine the mid-1970’s is under significant threat.

The routine monitoring of butterflies on the site is dependent upon regular weekly (weather permitting) visits of about 1 hour to walk a set route around the reserve.

It would be wonderful to update some of the quadrat survey work on flora undertaken in the past and for those  with an interest in invertebrates the last major survey was in 1990 so feel free to get your “bug” books out and help see what has changed!

Please do get in touch with us if you would like to contribute to this and to find out more come and talk to us at the AGM on 16th January.

Update on AGM Monday 16th January @ 7:30pm

Please do join us at the A.G.M. being held at Barnack Village Hall on Monday 16th January.  The “business” part of the meeting is always brief with the majority of the time spent on more interesting topics.

As well as an informative talk about another local reserve (Castor Hanglands) by Chris Gardiner there will be some historical photographs of the reserve, updates to the Orchid monitoring with the results of the 2016  surveys and information on the 2016 butterfly transects.

The provisional list of events for 2017 will  be available for comment and it will be your opportunity to indicate what you would like to see organised during the year and find out more about the various aims of the group and how you can help. (More to follow on these in posts over the next few weeks)

Finally it will obviously provide you with the ideal opportunity to pay your 2017 membership subscription.

AGM on Monday 16th January @ 7:30pm

Please put this date in your diary and start the new year by looking forward to another year of visits and activities on the reserve.

At the recent steering group meeting our current Chair Alyson confirmed that she will not be seeking re-election this year. A very big thank you to Alyson for all she has done to get the “friends” up and running since its initial formation in January 2014.

As we complete our third year the steering group confirmed four primary aims for the “friends”.

1. To promote understanding of the significance of the “Hills and Holes” as a national nature reserve to the broad community of visitors.

2. To assist Natural England with the practical management of the reserve.

3. To assist with ongoing monitoring and surveys on the reserve to ascertain the status of the flora and fauna.

4. To raise funds for specific projects which will improve the reserve in line with Natural England’s management plan.

To achieve these aims as well as requiring a new Chair and Secretary it would be useful to identify members who are willing to contribute in any of the four areas.

We can only achieve these objectives by having an active steering group and participatory membership so please give some thought to how you can give something back for the enjoyment we all get from the reserve. Either come along to the AGM at Barnack Village Hall (more details to follow shortly) or contact us by e-mail  ahead of the meeting.

Chris Gardiner

Many of you will have met Chris at either one of the organised events, at the Friends AGM, or just on the reserve during a visit or a hosted walk. Particularly perhaps  on one of the many Glow Worm walks he has led over the many years he has been directly involved with Barnack Hills and Holes on behalf of Natural England/English Nature/……… the many other names the organisation has had in the 30 years Chris has worked for them. What has remained constant is Chris knowledge and willingness to share this with others and his tireless work at Barnack and Castor Hanglands NNR plus other local reserves that has left us with such a rich and diverse environment to enjoy today and for many more years to come.

It is therefore with much sadness  to us, that Chris has finally decided to retire (We know many of you will have said a personal farewell to Chris) but we felt it appropriate to publicly wish him well for the future. A future we hope that will still involve regular sightings on the reserve.

All the best and thanks for helping us get established.

The Friends of Barnack Hills and Holes

PS Chris avoided any pictures and to take credit for his efforts so the image I think is one he would like to be remembered for his part in creating.

Glow Worm Walk 2016

A dry but relatively chilly July evening saw 18 people on the reserve hunting through the long grass for signs of Glow worms. As the sun set Chris gave us an initial general introduction to the reserve and some flower spotting in the dusk along with the odd moth and caterpillar. Once the skies darkened and a description of the life cycle of the glow worm, explaining the fact that it is only the adult females who glow, we set off “eyes rooted to the ground” seeking that first sighting. Fortunately not too far along the path the first little green light was spotted and capably captured for us all to enjoy a close up view of this beetle. After releasing our first beetle further sightings on the circuitous route back to the car park secured a total of seven sightings (at least for the tail-end of the group) the majority of these of beetles staying well hidden in the depths of the grass out of the cool wind. A further three on the roadside verge on my way back to the village from the car park brought my own total to ten beetles on my first glow worm walk.

A very big thank you to Chris for yet again (I am not sure how many times he has led these walks?) providing an interesting talk and general information on all sorts of topics about the reserve.

Glow-worm walk – 2nd July

Our next event is the annual Glow worm walk. Chris Gardiner of Natural England will be leading the annual Glow worm walk. Again we will meet up in the Main car park but obviously a late start 21:00 on Saturday 2nd July. This is planned to last between 11/2 and 2 hours and will be free to members and at a small charge of £2:00 for non-members. Please do let us know if you would like to attend to help with planning by e-mailing and if not already a member please consider joining (£5 per year – and enjoy free events throughout the year, learning more about this National Nature Reserve.