Grid Reference: TG 352 073
GPS Coordinates: 52.612827, 1.4729954
Size: 0.5 ha (1.2 acres)
Owned By: Strumpshaw Parish Council
Access Parking: Open. Strumpshaw Stone Pit is situated on Strumpshaw Hill, adjacent to the northeastern part of the former landfill site which has been capped and landscaped. The Stone Pit can be reached via a public footpath running south from Buckenham Road, uphill between horse paddocks. Suitable car parking is very limited, but space is available nearby in Strumpshaw village (a few hundred metres to the west).
Habitats: Dry grassland, scrub and tall herb in a defunct, worked pit.
Main Conservation Interest: Dry, acidic site with heathland characteristics.
Conservation Status: None.
Management: Managed by BADCOG since 1984.
Description: The Stone Pit constitutes part of what was historically Strumpshaw Poors land; the pit was open for use by the people of Strumpshaw Parish for extracting sand and stone.
The site lies over well-drained, acidic, sandy soils which support tall herb and scrub including gorse, broom, blackthorn and dog-rose. An interesting feature is a small, exposed sandy cliff where sand extraction has taken place. The bare ground conditions support foxglove, wood sage and heath groundsel, and both weld and viper’s-bugloss have also occurred. The grassland supports perforate St. John’s-wort, common vetch, germander speedwell, heath bedstraw, sheep’s sorrel and heath groundsel; parts are grazed by rabbits to a short, cropped sward. The site is also notable for fungi, the fruiting bodies of which appear on the profusion of dead and decaying wood.
Until recently, the site was dominated by bramble, nettle and bracken. An appropriate mowing regime including the thorough clearance of cut vegetation has, over a period of time, reduced the dominance of these coarse species and ongoing management is aimed at diversifying the site and increasing its wildlife interest. Sheep were grazed on part of the former landfill site for a short time, including the stone pit, yielding a short, cropped sward. Unfortunately grazing has not continued, although this remains a potential management tool for the future. Parts of the adjacent, former landfill site have been cleared and sown with a wildflower seed mix. Some success has been achieved in introducing flowering plants, although heavy grazing by rabbits has limited their establishment.
The dry, sandy, slightly acidic soils supported a habitat with heathland characteristics in the past and this site is perhaps the closest BADCOG comes to managing heathland.
Attempts to introduce heather have been unsuccessful, again due to the pressure exerted by grazing rabbits. Oak, rowan, holly and bird cherry have also been planted to compensate for the loss of several mature trees which may have succumbed to the effects of methane gas, a by-product of the landfill. Several log piles have been created, providing further microhabitats for fungi and invertebrates.
When To Visit: In May for bluebells; in autumn look out for the fruiting bodies of fungi along the footpath and on decaying wood.