Lying next to the River Lark this pretty network of flower-rich wet meadows and dykes is a small wildlife oasis for those living in the village of Barton Mills.
Mrs Norah Hanbury-Kelk, from who the reserve takes its name, bought the meadows during the 1930s when this part of west Suffolk was still largely rural. As the countryside around it changed with expanding villages and agriculture, this parcel of land remained unchanged.
For this reason the meadows, which were gifted to the Trust in the 1980s, are still home to an enviable population of scarce marsh orchids as well as a great variety of other wetland plants such as ragged-robin, lady’s smock, greater bird’s-foot trefoil and both early and southern marsh orchid.
During Mrs Hanbury-Kelk’s ownership of the meadows, it is likely they would have flooded most years when the nearby river was in spate, attracting large flocks of wetland birds. Such inundation is now rare as the river is embanked and separated from the meadows but a system of dams and ditches help keep the water high during the winter and are regularly visited by snipe and rafts of duck.
The reserve can only be accessed by a path that runs from the entrance to the bridge over the river, so it is not really a place for those looking for a long walk. But for those nearby it remains one of those most attractive and interesting places for wildlife in the parish.