|Managed by:||West Hagbourne Parish Council|
|OS grid reference:||SU 516 877|
|Nearest postcode:||OX11 0NW|
|Usual work:||Hedge and ditch maintenance|
Moor Lane in West Hagbourne is an ancient byway, designated one of the few remaining rights of way classified as a Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT). This lane, which tapers into a footpath, may have originally followed the baulks and headlands created by medieval ploughing. It is now bounded on the South by a small brook, and has hedgerows providing valuable habitat for a diversity of wildlife on both sides of the lane.
Many of the hedgerows West Hagbourne, including those along Moor Lane have a very ancient origin that long pre-dates the Parliamentary Enclosure Act. There is evidence of ancient field systems, small holdings and orchards within the parish, including foundations of an 18th century farmstead called Ragged Farm within a field alongside Moor Lane. The Southern boundary of Moor Lane is a brook that has been culveted in places to allow access to a scattering of cottages including one thought to date from the medieval period, and another from the 17th century. The hedges are thought to have developed over the last 200 plus years creating aiverse habitats, and the fruit trees may be descendants of those from the orchards that once covered the whole area.
Flora and Fauna
The hedgerows contain a large diversity of native species including deciduous trees such as hazel, ash, sycamore, plum and crab apple, along with ivy, brambles, hawthorn, blackthorn, field rose, nettles, teasels and burr. The dense hedgerows provide ideal nesting sites, food sources and shelter for a large variety of birds in addition to small mammals such as rabbits. The large amount of dead wood within the hedgerows provide vital habitat for invertebrates.
Key work done at this site includes conservation of the important hedgerows. This includes clearance of large areas of overgrown brambles and nettles that are smothering other species. Thinner areas of the hedgerow will be maintained, in-planted and re-hedged with native hedge species such as blackthorn and hazel in order to enhance the wildlife haven by reducing the amount of overhanging trees and thereby increasing the amount of daylight reaching the hedgerow and watercourse. This should aid re-growth at the base of the hedgerows and increase biodiversity of the watercourse.
An important task is to rectify the watercourse of the ditch that runs alongside Moor Lane that was subject to excessive digging over the last twenty years. Excessively deep areas of the watercourse will be in-filled, and large dead wood that are obstructing the flow will be removed. The large debris removed will be used to create habitat piles and create bridges over the watercourse in order to provide invaluable crossing points for small creatures. Some areas of the watercourse are to be widened in order to restore habitat. The first stage of reinstating the previous course of the water will be to further expose the great stone, which is only partly visible, and used to sit amid a clear flowing chalk pond belonging to Ragged Farm that covered most of the lane.
To get to West Hagbourne from Oxford, take the A34 south and turn off right at the Milton interchange towards Harwell. In Harwell turn left onto the A417 towards West Hagbourne. Leave the A417 by turning left onto Main Street, which will take you to the village of West Hagbourne. Moor Lane will be on your right.