Clophill Lakes

The Greensand Trust wishes to establish a Nature Reserve, enabling otters, sand martins and colourful dragonflies in the wetlands, to skylarks and wildflowers in the grassland areas.  We will also provide public access in a sensitive and sustainable manner which conserves and enhances these emerging habitats, whilst enabling visitors to share in the benefits this very special environment provides.

Please help us achieve this by supporting our Clophill Lakes Appeal 

New Nature Reserve for Central Bedfordshire's Greensand Country

Local environmental charity The Greensand Trust is taking over management of Clophill Lakes and will establish the site as a new nature reserve, conserving and enhancing its natural beauty, wildlife and heritage, while providing sensitive, sustainable public access to promote understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Greensand Country area to local communities and the wider public.

The Greensand Trust expects to open the site for managed public access in 2024, following a period of establishment works expected to take place over the next 18+ months, during which there will be no public access other than via the existing Public Right of Way. During this time, we ask the public for their continued patience, as it’s essential that this phase minimises disturbance to sensitive habitats. 

Clophill Lakes is the site of a former Fuller’s Earth quarry worked by Laporte until production ceased in 2000 and the site has remained effectively closed to the public since then. In 2017, L&Q Estates put in a successful planning application to enable future public access to the site through development and selected The Greensand Trust to receive the land, with a financial contribution to help develop the 118 ha Clophill Lakes Nature Reserve in line with a planning approved Masterplan, with Hayfield Homes chosen to provide a development of 50 properties.

Ian Hardwick, Managing Director of L&Q Estates said:

This is a perfect example of where residential development can provide significant benefits for the existing residents. By transferring the land to The Greensand Trust (GST) for a nature reserve, it secures the long term management and stewardship of the open green space and will, when complete, be a marvellous asset for the village and wider community. GST was a natural choice to take on this stewardship in light of their expertise and close local ties to the area.

Haven for wildlife

Clophill Lakes already provides an important haven for wildlife. It includes the Cainhoe Lakes County Wildlife Site (CWS), recognised for its habitat mosaic of semi-improved acid and neutral grassland, plant species, woodland, scrub, hedgerows, marshy grassland, swamp, ditches, ponds and lakes.  It is also recognised for its wintering birds - both waders and wildfowl. Areas of the site are part of the Flit Valley County Wildlife Site and River County Wildlife Site. 

Whilst much of the site is restored quarry land, it is also notable for Cainhoe Castle Scheduled Monument, which will be protected as valuable local heritage and plans are underway to develop opportunities to learn about the castle, while protecting it from further damage and ensuring its condition is improved.  

Greensand Trust Chief Executive Gill Welham said: 

We are delighted to take on this exciting opportunity to safeguard and develop access to Clophill Lakes and add it to our portfolio of local green spaces we manage to improve understanding and enjoyment for the benefit of everyone. It will be our priority to provide a considered and sensitive approach to public access and visitor facilities, which will allow local people to appreciate this landscape, without causing disturbance or damage and preserving the peace and tranquillity of the site. We will also be looking to provide a wide range of opportunities for public participation and engagement at the site with education, training and volunteer opportunities.

The zoned approach planned for Clophill Lakes Nature Reserve (see pdf below) is as follows:

  • Nature Conservation Zone – includes the Lakes and the areas of grassland, wetland and woodland vegetation to the east and northeast and also a group of smaller lakes to the north of the car park with managed public access.
  • Community Access Zone – incorporating land to the north and northwest of the lakes, managed to support community access available to the public on foot 24 hours a day.
  • Visitor Zone – the site entrance and vehicle access, car park, picnic area and other visitor facilities, forming the main visitor hub of the site. 
  • Wildlife Friendly Farming Zone – an area of arable farmland to the southwest of the lakes that will be managed to encourage farmland birds and other wildlife.

We need your help!

Whilst L&Q Estates is providing initial funding which will contribute towards the costs of establishing the public access and landscaping works for the site, further resources are required to enhance the reserves habitats, conserve and protect Cainhoe Castle, and to provide toilets and visitor information. The Greensand Trust has therefore launched the Clophill Lakes Nature Reserve Appeal to grant providers, local businesses and the public, to ask for support in creating what will be a cherished site for the area – donations can be made at Greensand Trust Patron and former Chairman Peter Smith MBE has offered to match any donations made to this appeal via The Peter Smith Charitable Trust. 

Established in 1999, The Greensand Trust was set up to conserve and enhance the distinctive landscape, wildlife and history of the Greensand Ridge and wider area, improving access to sites to improve understanding and enjoyment for the benefit of everyone. The Greensand Trust works with communities to ensure they have access to sustainably managed, high quality green space, with all the associated benefits this brings.