Simpson’s Fromus Valley is a beautifully preserved wildlife site in a hidden Suffolk valley with meadows, woodland, ancient trees and ponds. Foremost amongst the highlights is the river Fromus, which runs through a wooded gulley cutting a deep gorge out into the meadows, through the length of the Reserve before flowing through Kelsale village, Saxmundham and Sternfield to join the Alde around Snape Watering. Amidst the medieval meadows of this reserve, there are also four intriguing ponds reflecting the historic use of the site, first as a monastic fishery, and later as a Duke’s deer park.
Before Suffolk Flora Trust purchased the land in 2005 the site was not managed for conservation purposes. Since acquiring the land the trust has installed a boundary fence, surrounding the whole reserve, the pastures have been enclosed and a water supply provided. This allows conservation grazing by cattle: to the correct length to allow flora to flourish. Species rich meadows are a priority habitat having declined in the United Kingdom by 97% since the 1950s. The meadows at Simpson’s Fromus Valley are carefully managed to encourage the return of diverse flora and interrelated fauna and hay cutting and grazing is a vital part of that management.
The 27 acres at Fromus Valley now support over 50 bird species including endangered species such as bullfinch, yellowhammer and skylark. The site provides a wildlife haven amid intensively farmed arable land attracting high numbers of passing migrant birds in the winter, including fieldfares and redwings and acting as a refuge for resident bird species. A stagnant pond has been de-silted back to its clay base and scrub and trees cleared or coppiced to allow more light into the pond. Interesting emergent and marginal plants such as thread-leaved water crowfoot, branch bur-reed and pink water speedwell are expected to re-colonise. Insect life completes the ecosystem; beetles, flies, 4 species of dragonfly, bees and butterflies abound.
☞ To provide protection to sensitive flora, the gates to both reserves are normally locked, and the reserves are closed to unauthorised visitors. Each site is open two or three mornings a year when members of the public are welcome. Visit our Open Days page for more information.