Sturts Trail – Introduction & Start

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Arriving at Sturts Nature Reserve
Entrance to the reserve from the approach along the narrow Ailey Lane. Postcode HR3 6NY. Ailey Lane can be accessed from the A4112 west of Kinnersley, or to the south from the A438 just west of Letton.

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Parking at Sturts Nature Reserve
Just up from the turning off Ailey Lane, go through this gate and there is a grassy parking area to the right which can accommodate a couple of cars.

The car park gates are not locked but please close them when you go in and when you leave. There is an information board in the car park which provides an overview of the reserve.

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Wear suitable shoes as many parts of the reserve can be very wet and subject to flooding, especially in the winter.

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Sites of Special Scientific Interest
The Sturts North and South Nature Reserves are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s). This means that they are of particular interest to science due to the rare wildlife found here. Lying within the flood-plain of the River Wye, the Sturts is subject to regular winter flooding – filling ponds and drainage ditches and leaving low-lying areas of the reserves waterlogged.

[Image: Christopher Furlong – Getty, thanks to Lewis Goldwater for assitance with labelling,]

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Wetland and grassland environments
The banks and higher areas of the fields remain drier. It is this contrast in conditions which makes the Sturts so valuable for wildlife, as the fields are able to support a rich diversity of both wetland and grassland species within the same area.

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View from the car park
From the car park you can see over the Reserve, which is a remarkably flat area.

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12,000 years ago
At the end of the last Ice Age, 12000 years ago, the area in front of you would have been covered by a large lake. This formed when a ridge of glacial moraine in the Staunton on Wye area, deposited as the glacier melted (see following map), acted as a dam and prevented the melt water draining down the valley.

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Glacial lake and moraines
To the east the ridge of glacial moraine (Staunton Moraine) acted as a dam and prevented the melt water draining down the valley.

Part 1 of both the Car and Cycle Tours pass along the top of the Staunton Moraine and provide a view westward over the area of the former glacial lake.

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How did this landscape form?
This view 12000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. To the west was a glacier that came down from the mountains of Wales to feed into lake. Beyond the lake there would have been a large glacier reaching almost to the top of Dorstone Hill and Merbach Hill. This glacier was the source of the water, sediment and icebergs within the lake.

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Extent of the lake
The glacial lake was about 1 kilometre across, reaching from here to almost to the base of Oaker’s Hill and 4 kilometre wide from Norton Canon in the east to the edge of the reserve in the west. To the east the ridge of glacial moraine (Staunton Moraine) acted as a dam and prevented the melt water draining down the valley.

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Walk towards former lake shore
As you walk down this slight slope you come to the point that would have been the shore of the glacial lake around 12000 years ago.