This former small quarry of Blisworth Limestone, (Jurassic period), now has meadow pasture covering the irregular hills and hollows left in the ground during the excavations. The wildlife interest lies particularly in the wide variety of flowering plants, best seen in mid to late summer.
The old quarries are located in pastureland that is privately owned and currently managed for sheep grazing. The site is a designated County Wildlife Site (No. 73Z10) listed for its limestone flora. Part of the site is now designated a United Kingdom Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) Habitat for Lowland Calcareous Limestone.
The quarries now support unimproved (i.e no use of fertiliser or herbicides) calcareous (chalky) grassland, rich in plant species within the old stone workings. To the east and south, the quarries border a large field which contains archaeological evidence of Medieval agriculture (ridge and furrow). There is a mature hedgerow and stone wall to the north, along the boundary with the Old Stratford to Beachampton road.
This former small-scale quarry seems to have been ‘surface worked’ where the stone was dug out as required, leaving heaps of spoil and hollows in the ground. There are still some exposures of rock to be seen, especially on the eastern boundary of the site. According to local anecdotes, the rock was probably used for walls and various farm buildings, not being the best quality building stone. It is not known when workings ceased.
What to look for
The wildlife interest lies particularly in the wide variety of flowering plants, best seen in mid to late summer. Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre (BMERC) has an extensive list of species recorded there. Recent observations from summer 2010, included: Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil, Dwarf Thistle, Wild Thyme, Hoary Plantain, Rough Chervil, Fairy Flax, Lady’s Bedstraw, Quaking Grass, Spiny Restharrow and Harebell. Many of these are indicators of unimproved calcareous grassland. Also in summer 2010, there was a large number of Musk Thistle, which seem to be increasing.
On the circular walk as you follow the boundary of Calverton Place (built as a rectory in 1821) you will pass a row of very fine old trees (notably Beech, Pedunculate Oak andLime) and lichen-encrusted old walls.
The many different flowers will attract a variety of Bees, Butterflies and other insects.
The BMERC citation also mentions that Yellowhammer and Linnet, two Priority/local UKBAP species, were present.
Old Limestone Quarry species glossary
The scientific names of all the species mentioned for Old Limestone Quarry can be found in order of appearance in this species glossary.
How to get there
The quarry is located in a private field (SP786392 – see OS Explorer map 192 or OS Landranger map 152 or MK City Map, ref. 2F [site not marked] ), with no general access to roam, although there are public footpaths which are clearly signed.
It can be most easily reached from the Stony Stratford to Beachampton road (SP787393) where there is a small car park and stile into the field surrounding the site which lies to the right.
However, it can also form a stopping point during an interesting circular walk starting from a small car park/lay-by at Lower Weald (SP789388). From here, take the signed footpath leading past the house, climb over the stile, turn right along the outside of the wall of Calverton Place and when after a little while you come near some buildings, climb a further stile where on the right there is a signpost indicating the crossing of two footpaths. One is part of the Milton Keynes Boundary Walk, which continues across the field (not downhill) past the site to the entrance on the Stony Stratford to Beachampton road (SP787393) mentioned above. To continue the circular walk, turn right on the road as you leave the field and shortly right again following the road back to Lower Weald.
The other path leads diagonally from the west of the fields at a ‘kissing gate’, near the junction of the road with Passenham Lane, to the footpath signpost and down the hill, providing a short cut to the Lower Weald road.
Visitors should be aware that access is confined to the footpaths and that the field is grazed most of the year (sheep /cattle), and some of the old quarries have very steep sides. It is not suitable for wheeled vehicles.
The nearest public transport
Bus number 80 runs between Stony Stratford and Central Milton Keynes via Calverton, but only on Tuesdays and Fridays – see the latest timetables for further information.
Places of interest nearby
Also worth a visit is the church of All Saints for its stonework and trees in the surrounding yard reached along a short road (adjacent to the old school and almost directly opposite the ‘short cut’ footpath along the village road). To the north of the church lies Manor Farm, dating from the 16th century and currently under restoration.
Buckingham and Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre (BMERC) has detailed information available about the site, plus a species list.
For information on the buildings, see:
The Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire by Nikolaus Pevsner and Elizabeth Williamson (1994), Pevsner Architectural Guides.