The Lammas Lands are a series of flood meadows alongside the River Wey between Godalming and Farncombe.
Flooding at the Lammas Lands
The Lammas Lands flood regularly but the water level usually drops again fairly rapidly.
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.
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 Park 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 (including deer), 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.
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.
Habitat and wildlife
The Lammas Lands are 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.
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
- an Area of High Archaeological Potential
- an Area of Strategic Visual Importance.
This winter, Hell Ditch Meadow has often been visited by grey heron and up to three little egrets feeding on the wet ground. 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.
You can park at any of our car parks in Godalming. The nearest postcode is GU7 1HR.
Experienced volunteers with ecological site survey skills are always welcome to help monitor this site. Bird recorders are particularly welcome.
Volunteering tasks are due to restart from the 1 October 2020, please visit our volunteering pages for more details.
Contact the parks and countryside team for more details on 01483 523394.
Contact Parks & Countryside Team on 01483 523394 for more information.
Page owner: Harri Robinson. Last updated: 26/08/2020 17:14