Millhoppers – Our First Reserve

This site of approx 3 acres was acquired by the efforts of few individuals from the adjacent village of Long Marston, a grant from Dacorum Borough Council and Butterfly Conservation. It was finally secured by our organization and dedicated to Gordon Beningfield in1998 who sadly had died just before the opening.

The strange name possibly originates from a stream-crossing to an old mill long since untraceable. Others contend that it derives from mill-stones laid to enable people to cross the stream. The entire area then was much wetter.

Millhoppers is a rare example of a remnant of ancient countryside encircled by arable land. It contains a large section of unimproved grassland. Some of the hedges are thought to date back to Tudor times. It possesses a pond fed by a stream and a public footpath provides access on one side

The site has a large stand of blackthorn scrub which provides good cover for birds and mammals. There are 16 black poplar trees in the hedgerow. This a nationally rare tree but not uncommon locally.

As the site has not been farmed within living memory there is potential for a rich diversity of plantlife to support butterflies. Thus our main efforts have been directed to cutting and raking off grass. In addition the vigorous black thorn scrub and large banks of nettles have to be contained.

So far nectar plants are emerging and the butterfly species count, although not containing rarities, stand at 21.

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