Waverley Borough Council

Lammas Lands, Godalming

About Godalming Lammas Lands

The Lammas Lands consists of a series of four flood meadows (covering 32.5 ha - 81 acres), lying on the northern side of the River Wey between Godalming and Farncombe.

lammas lands flooded

The Lammas Lands is shown here flooded in February 2009.  Normally, the water level drops again fairly rapidly, though it has suffered repeated inundation over winter 2013/14.  In a typical water meadow, the flooding raises the ground temperature encouraging earlier grass growth, and this is also the case in a flood meadow; however, flooding can lead to high phosphate levels (particularly from sewage)  which can affect the vegetation by encouraging coarser growth, resulting in poorer biodiversity.

The site is owned and managed by Waverley Borough Council, and has been designated a Site of Nature Conservation Importance because of its high wildlife value, particularly birds and invertebrates.This winter, Hell Ditch Meadow has often been visited by grey heron and up to three little egrets feeding on the wet ground.

Conservation grazing

Cows grazing

Controlled conservation grazing is integral to the continued well being of the site, as this strips the site of excess nutrients and keeps the sward shorter. The Lammas Lands support a rich invertebrate fauna and the site is also important for birds, including reed bunting and snipe. Without grazing, the grass areas would become rank eventually becoming invaded by trees, and in the process, would lose the rich assemblage of associated wildlife. Annual haycuts and grazing have been carried out for over 1,000 years on this site, and it is important that these continue to protect the site and retain the open landscape for future generations to enjoy.

History

The area is also of high historic interest and contributes enormously to the visual character of Godalming.  Lammas Lands are named after the old practice of taking a hay cut on, or by, Lammas Day (1 August) after which cattle would be turned out to eat the fresh flush of grass that followed the hay cut.

Best way to see the Lammas Lands

You can appreciate the most western meadow (Overgone Meadow) from the riverside walk in Godalming, which runs between the Phillips Memorial Garden and the Godalming Library on the southern side of the river. Good views can also be enjoyed from Bridge Street which runs along the eastern boundary. 

The downstream meadows (Catteshall and Almshouse Meadows) are visible from the towpath along the Godalming Navigation between Godalming and Farncombe Boat House.  You can access the meadows at various points around the perimeter of the site, including Catteshall Lane and the towpath. 

Keeping dogs under control

If animals are grazing, please keep your dog under control.  During the bird nesting season (from roughly mid-February through to the end of July), please keep your dog on a lead, as these meadows are very important breeding sites for ground nesting birds.  Disturbance by dogs leads to higher levels of predation of eggs and fledglings, as well as direct damage to the nests.

Town bonfire

Part of the Lammas Lands, behind the Fire Station, is used for the Town Bonfire in November.

Getting there - parking

You can park at any of our car parks in Godalming.

Getting there - public transport

The Lammas Lands are easily accessible from Godalming and Farncombe railway stations and local buses.

Please see Surrey County Council's Buses and Trainswebsite pages for more information.

What is the habitat type?

Predominantly grassland, including old grazed hay meadow, damp meadow, waterlogged grassland and some improved swards.  Some alder woodland and bramble scrub also exist.  108 species of flowering plant have been identified on the site, including meadow saxifrage.

Site Designations

  • Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI)
  • common land
  • Area of High Archaeological Potential
  • Area of Strategic Visual Importance.

Volunteering

Experienced volunteers with ecological site survey skills are always welcome to help monitor this site.  Please contact the Ranger for more details. Bird recorders are particularly welcome, and thanks must go out to those people who have already responded to site notices asking for records.


Site Ranger

Nick Baxter (Tel: 01483 523392)

Please note that phone calls may be recorded for training or monitoring purposes.

Page owner: Nick Baxter. Last updated: 18/02/2014 08:25