This delightful area lies around the southern boundaries of the QEII Hospital and has a range of habitats including oak woodland, calcareous fen, meadows, ditches and ponds.
Access is via footpaths off The Commons, Howlands and Caponfield in Welwyn Garden City.
During the last ten years, Countryside Stewardship grant has helped fund a programme of hedge-laying and planting, the annual cropping of a wild bird mix to provide winter food for farmland birds such as corn buntings and yellow hammers, and the provision of fencing to create paddocks for grazing livestock.
A new ten-year grant-funded programme of habitat work was agreed during 2014. Rare breed cattle are now being used on the reserve as a way of managing the land in a natural way to maintain flower-rich meadows. During each winter, small areas of woodland around the fen will be coppiced to regenerate the trees and bushes and to restore fen vegetation to the wetter areas. The arable field will continue to be sown in spring with Wild Bird Mix which will provide seeds in winter to attract birds such as linnets and yellowhammers.
In 2018, a new entrance to the reserve was constructed to provide access to new residenrts living in the new houses to rear of the QE2 Hospital. A footbridge allows visitors to cross the Howlands Brook and follow an attractive path along Long meadow to Windmill Hill.
Two sections of footpath have also been re-surfaced during the last two years. This will now make it possible for visitors to enjoy a quiet stroll around the reserve at all times of the year. Further upgrades are planned for 2019.
Much of the practical work on this nature reserve is undertaken by Commonswood Nature Watch and other local volunteers. If you have time to spare and would like to help with anything ranging from path maintenance, coppicing, hedge restoration, bird and butterfly survey, please contact us.