Cymbeline Meadows is a 74 ha area of working farm land comprising a rich variety of habitats including pastures, arable fields, meadows, woodland and the meandering river Colne.
How to get here
By road: vehicular access is via the Spring Lane / Bakers Lane junction onto The Chase Way (on some maps referred to as Wet Lane),
Postcode: CO3 4AU
What3Word location: brand.voices.orbit,
OS location: TL 973 258
By walk / cycle: There are four pedestrian entrances, two on Cymbeline Way (Avenue of Remembrance), one off of Bakers Lane following the PROW on the edge of Lexden Golf Club and one off of Bergholt Road following the PROW under the rail line subway.
All day, every day.
Facilities and access
Please be aware
Cattle graze the riverside meadows in spring, summer and autumn. Please keep dogs under very close control at all times and ensure you pick up after your dog as dog faeces can spread disease to cattle.
The river side meadows do flood after prolonged heavy rain. Some walking routes will be inaccessible at these times.
The site is a working farm so heavy machinery is often moving around on site.
History, vegetation and wildlife
The site is a quiet, peaceful place to enjoy walks and picnics located in easy reach of the town centre. Formerly part of Lexden Lodge Farm managed as a commercial arable farm. The Council acquired the land in 1988.
Previously the riverside meadows were cultivated with cereal crops. In the 1990 they were sown with a mixture of wildflowers and grasses to provide pasture. Cattle now graze these meadows in the spring and summer.
The main area of woodland on the site is called Charter Wood in the North East corner of the site. It is an area of about 10 ha of mixed deciduous woodland. The wood was planted in 1992 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the granting of the Charter to the Borough by Richard I (The Lionheart).
Along the entrance drive look out for one of Colchester's most interesting archaeological features, the Lexden Dyke, a bank and ditch system built to defend Iron Age Camulodunum around 2000 years ago.
The site is rich in wildlife; otter, water vole and kingfisher are found on the river, with snipe in the wet meadows. Nightingale can be heard in the spring on the edge of Charter Wood and whitethroat and yellowhammer can often be seen perched on the tops of hedgerows.
Buzzard regularly glide on thermals over the site, listen out for their high pitch mewing call. Noctule bats feed over the arable fields on summer evenings. Evidence of woodmice can be found in Charter Wood in the form of gnawed sloe stones. Other mammals include badger, muntjac, rabbit and fox.
The river and ponds on site provide breeding places for a fantastic array of aquatic insects including banded demoiselle, brown hawker, scarce chaser. Black poplar trees have been planted alongside the river as part of a project to help this species.
According to the Forestry Commission, Black poplar is the most endangered native timber tree in Britain. Threats to the species include disease, habitat loss, poor natural regeneration and hybridisation with non-native poplars. The Black poplars have fencing around them to protect them from grazing.
Common plants on site include teasel, purple loosestrife, wild carrot, the aquatic arrowhead and flowering rush. Cowslips appear in the meadows in spring, with creeping buttercup, oxeye daisy and knapweed putting on an amazing display later in the year. 21 butterfly species of have been recorded on site. Moth surveys have been carried out and the most numerous species were common swift, green carpet and heart and dart.
Hedgerows are being restored by coppicing to invigorate new growth and new sections of hedgerow are being planted. They provide important habitat for birds and mammals.
Margins of wild flowers and rough grassland are left on the arable field margins to provide refuges for insects which are important for pollination and pest control within the crops.
Guided walks, children's activities provided. Currently there are no forest schools on site or associated friends of groups.