Queens Award for Voluntary Service

Overview of the Fairfield Nature Reserve

The Fairfield Nature Reserve is part of the Morecambe Bay Nature Improvement Area, part of a green corridor for wetland birds and other animals, from the Lancaster canal to the Lune Estuary and Morecambe Bay.

Distinct habitats

The Reserve provides several distinct habitats: a hay meadow; an arable field; hedgerows with several veteran trees; woodland areas; wetlands with water features including a stream (Lucy Brook), ponds and scrapes and a fine row of willows along Lucy Brook.


There are three footpaths through and around the reserve. These footpaths all give wonderful views of the City, castle and canal and even on clear days to the Lakeland hills.

The public footpath (often known as the ‘Pads’) is an ancient path which has always been used extensively by walkers, who enjoy the scenery and local wildlife. It runs from Sunnyside Lane, skirts the Orchard, and then cuts through the Reserve and across to Aldcliffe Road and Lancaster canal.

Two new fully accessible footpaths have been created. They are designated as ‘concessionary’ rights of way. The first crosses the site, linking the Fairfield Orchard near Sunnyside Lane to Cromwell Road and the Lancaster Canal whilst the most recently constructed path leaves the public path, goes around Pony Wood and continues down to Aldcliffe Road.

Access to fields in the Reserve is only available via guided walks (publicised on our blog and mailing list) or by special permission.

Maintenance techniques

Management and maintenance techniques have been chosen to encourage an increase in the biodiversity of plants and animals throughout the Reserve.

  • All the farmed land is managed using traditional farming methods.
  • White Park cattle, an ancient and endangered breed, graze the grassland. This pasture land is now an important site for over-wintering snipe.
  • The meadow is being restored to become a traditional wildflower meadow as are the margins of the arable field.
  • Hedgerows and Pony Wood, which contains some notable mature trees, are being extended and improved with a greater diversity of native tree species.
  • Wetland areas have been extended by creating a series of deeper ponds and scrapes. It is hoped these additional wetland areas where our volunteers benefitted from the guidance and help of experts from the North Lancashire Wildlife Trust will make the Reserve even more attractive to wetland birds, insects and amphibians.
  • A local beekeeper has set up hives in the reserve.

Variety of life

This work, largely carried out by our splendid group of volunteers, has already resulted in a greater variety of plant life and of local and visiting birds, mammals and insects being seen in the reserve.

The reserve is now full of the sound of birds, including waterfowl, woodland and wetland birds. In the winter months bird feeding tables are set up by Lancaster and District Bird Watching Society. They are close to the junction of the Pony Wood path and the public ‘pads’ footpath and are an excellent place to see a wide variety of local and visiting species.

Seasonal visitors

In autumn and winter, look out for snipe, curlews, linnets, redwing and fieldfare. In summer, chiff-chaff and willow warblers are visitors from Africa and reed bunting breed in the reed bed. Hares and deer, too, are frequently seen. A variety of the different butterfly, moth and damsel and dragonfly species can also be spotted, as can a much increased variety of the wild flowers.