Rosemary Fields

Rosemary Fields

Rosemary Fields is predominately a meadow habitat. They are part of the larger development area of Nicolson Road. As part of the development, the two fields are to be retained as public open space and will be transferred to Natural Enterprise for ongoing maintenance and enhancement. They were part of a larger farm complex (Preston Farm) but have not been formally managed for several years pending planning permission and construction works. In the meantime the larger field had been horse grazed and periodically cut to control ragwort, although the site has been largely untouched in the last few years.

Until the summer of 2020 there was no official public access although the whole development area has been used informally by local walkers. In summer 2020 Natural Enterprise created a mown linking path between the fields and a circular route around one of them. This was linked to public footpath running through the site.

What to look and listen for …

Since managing the site we have found corky fruited dropwort, knapweed, ribwort plantain, creeping buttercup, meadow buttercup, ragwort, hogweed, common spotted orchids and bramble. Bird’s-foot trefoil is known as ‘eggs and bacon’ and is great for caterpillars and bees, whilst fleabane is so-called for its apparent ability to ward off fleas, but in our meadows it does a good job of attracting insects, so it may not have been the most effective of repellents! Yarrow was used as a charm against bad luck and illness. Although it was also used to stop wounds from bleeding, it was believed to cause nosebleeds if put up the nose. Dingy skipper, marbled white, meadow brown and small skipper butterflies have all been seen here.

Birds previously recorded nesting include whitethroats nesting and buzzards. Magpies make a noisy chattering sound, whilst the wren, despite being such a small bird, has a very powerful song, it starts with a sequence of bright, clear tones, before a series of trilling verses. When two rival dunnock males come together they become animated with lots of wing-flicking and loud calling. The largest UK tit – the great tit – can be seen and heard, it is green and yellow with a striking glossy black head with white cheeks and a distinctive two-syllable song. You can also hear blue tits, jays, blackbirds, blackcaps, carrion crows, robins and jackdaws. Listen to the sounds of Ryde town and The Solent – the hovercraft, the train and the creaking of the gate on the railway-crossing.

… and smell and touch

Smell the sweet smell of blackberries, you are welcome to pick them. Find some ribwort plantain – it is the subject of a game that’s similar to conkers – pick the stems and knock the flower heads together, battle it out to see whose head drops off the stem first.

Nature at home and activities on site

We have produced a super Colouring Sheet for you to download and complete at home. We have also produced an I Spy Sheet and Map for you to print at home, or download to your phone and take to the site. And become a Bug Bunch Ranger. All these activities and resources can be found here.

Managing the site

The open grassland is currently being invaded by brambles and self-sown trees and shrubs. This is the natural process of succession and without intervention will proceed to mature woodland. In order to suspend this process, the site will need to be mown annually in the late summer/early autumn. Every year in the autumn approximately one third/one quarter of the open grass areas will be cut and this will be on a three/four-year rotation. In practice the areas to be cut are selected each year at the end of the growing season and those with the thickest growth are cut that year amounting to approximately a third of the available area. This regime would extend to the bramble patches and a decision would be made to either cut patches of bramble to base or simply cut around the perimeter to prevent further spread. This largely depends upon how vigorously the bramble is growing and spreading and the aim is to create a patchwork of grassland with mixed bramble and tree and shrub growth without allowing the dominance of any one element within the habitat. This also means that every year approximately two thirds\three quarters of the site is left undisturbed as sanctuary areas for wildlife

How to get there

On foot and by bike – The site can be accessed from Footpath R54 from Oakfield, from Footpath R55 from Elmfield, and Footpaths R52 and R52a from Rosemary Lane and Swanmore. The Nunwell Trail passes the site.

By bus – Ryde Fire Station stop (Route 2) then 360 metre walk via footpath R55. (Bus Timetables)

By car – There is no road access to this site. There is no parking at the site. The nearest on-road parking is Great Preston Road.

What 3 Words for site entrance from Great Preston Road: ///

what3words for site entrance from Pig Leg Crossing: ///cigar.same.clown


This site is accessed from Footpath R55. There are no formal access points. This site is only accessible by foot. This site is not recommended for people with mobility difficulties. There are no made paths other than Footpath R55. Paths are mown around and through the meadows. Depending on the time of year the grass may be quite long.

There are no toilets on site.  The nearest public toilets are in St Johns Road, Ryde.

We have written an Access Statement for this site. This includes mobility and sensory issues and opportunities. We welcome feedback from users.

We have produced an audible description creating a mind’s eye view of the area to allow a visually impaired person to enter with confidence. It will describe the entrance, the size of the area, where to find further information or help and any major obstacles or features. Information has been produced by visually impaired people ensuring it is useful and accurate. Access the description by scanning the QR code to the left of this text on your phone or tablet, or by clicking here.

Get Involved

There are various ways you can help improve and maintain our sites. We rely on volunteers to help with many tasks on our sites and also need people who are happy to regular visit the site be our “eyes and ears”, this means we can respond much quicker to issues. Our shop raises money to support our work and needs a team of volunteers. Or maybe you would like to help us with events. Find out more here.

You can also help by becoming one of our regular supporters. Even giving a few pounds each month can make a real difference, with your donation being invested into site management and improvement work to benefit site visitors and look after our precious wildlife. Sign up here.