Queens Award for Voluntary Service

Upper Sowerholme

Upper Sowerholme is a 0.45 ha (approx. 1 acre) area behind the line of willows at the far side of the Hay Meadow.


  • Old maps and records show that the land in this part of the reserve was called Sowerholme, reflecting the acidity and low fertility of the soil.
  • We have retained the name in two of the fields, Lower and Upper Sowerholme.
  • At the corner between the Hay Meadow and the Aldcliffe Rd. gardens are the remains of a stone building. It was an old coach house with the brook running underneath it.

Since 2011

  • After the Fairfield Association took over the lease of the land in 2011, water from Lucy Brook was diverted into the area behind the line of willows.
  • Reeds (phragmites) were planted to create a reed bed. Water seeps through the soil back into the brook, keeping the whole area wet.

Current Features

  • Most of the area is a reed bed, with a channel leading to a “lollipop” pond, i.e., one with no exit.
  • Bramble dominates the higher ground, with a line of trees and shrubs on the boundary with the Aldcliffe Rd. gardens.
  • This secluded area is a valuable wildlife habitat: reed buntings nest here, roe deer are seen and there is an abundance of insects including dragon flies.


  • There is a programme of cutting sections of the reeds in rotation. This “patchwork” benefits wildlife.
  • In the autumn the channel is cleared by volunteers who remove bull-rushes and other vegetation.
  • Periodically the channel is cleared mechanically.


  • The reeds will be allowed to spread to form a continuous wet area along the brook from the bottom of The Hay Meadow through to the ponds in Lower Sowerholme.

Look out for

The line of lovely old willows that form the border between The Hay Meadow and Upper Sowerholme.

A grey heron moving between the ponds on the reserve.

Photographic Survey

We maintain a record of how the various areas of Nature Reserve are progressing. Photographs have been taken on roughly 5 occasions each year: March, mid-May, late June, early August and late September. Click on an image to launch the survey photograph album.

Photographs launch in an album in Google Photos and should appear in date order in the album. To find out the date particular photos were taken, first select the photo and then select the ‘i’ icon (top-right of screen) to bring up its properties.

View12-Upper Sowerholme
View 12: Upper Sowerhome from stile by Lower Sowerhome