In 2002 Gateshead Council bought Lamesley Pastures to care for and improve the area for its wildlife, landscape, archaeological and historical interest and to encourage everyone to appreciate this unique place.
The site is now managed by Durham Wildlife Trust on a 30 year lease. For more information visit the Lamesley Pastures page on the Durham Wildlife Trust website.
The area just south of Lamesley Bridge is the site of a medieval village. An archaeological survey in 2003 found field patterns of ridge and furrow cultivation, field boundaries, flood defences and an ancient track known as a hollow-way.
Because most medieval remains elsewhere have been destroyed by building or ploughing, the site at Lamesley is recognised as one of the best surviving examples of a medieval landscape in Tyne and Wear.
Despite its closeness to the built up area of Gateshead, the land around the village has largely escaped the effects of the industrial revolution, coal mining and modern development and the landscape has changed little in the past 150 years. Because of this, the Council has protected Lamesley’s architectural and historic interest by designating it as a Conservation Area.
Lamesley Pastures is one of the few areas of undeveloped river floodplain found within the area and contains two Sites of Nature Conservation Importance.
Our aim is to make Lamesley Pastures a better place for nature by creating many different types of homes, or habitats, for wildlife. This includes restoring nationally rare winter water meadows. This has been done by introducing new ponds and ditches through which the level of water is controlled. A similar system, of intentionally flooding fields in winter, was used by our medieval ancestors to increase the fertility of their land.
These new temporary wetlands, and the permanent ponds we have created, attract wading birds like Lapwing, Curlew, Snipe and Redshank and every year the variety and number of birds increases. This is in addition to birds that we already have in the area like Kingfishers and Sand Martins. We are also planting reedbed habitats for birds and other animals. This also helps to clean up water flowing onto the site.
We have created new colourful wildflower meadows. These have provided habitats for farmland animals and birds, numbers of which are in serious decline, like Skylarks, Grey Partridge and Brown Hare. New hedgerows will provide homes for a wide variety of plants and animals including Tree Sparrows, whose numbers have fallen by 85% in the last 30 years. We have also held public events to build Tree Sparrow nest boxes.
Children from Harlow Green Junior School and local people have planted trees on the site. We have also planted Black Poplar, Britain’s rarest native tree, of which only a handful remain, in the north east.
To further encourage wildlife to Lamesley Pastures we are managing the land using traditional farming methods. This will involve keeping animals in low numbers and not adding chemical fertilisers and pesticides. We are taking part in ‘conservation grazing’ and have had rare breeds of cattle from Bill Quay Farm and Exmoor ponies using the site.
We have installed new paths and organise events for residents and the wider community to increase appreciation of the area.
As the area is being managed to create homes for ground nesting birds please help them by staying on the paths and keeping your dogs on leads.