Stonepit Field is situated in the parish of Great Linford and is bordered by Wolverton Road to the north, the Railway Walk to the south and the Grand Union Canal to the east. It is a site with a rich flora and insect community.
Stonepit Field has an interesting geology with underlying Cornbrash limestone which was laid down when this area was submerged under a warm tropical sea. In addition to the limestone flora, and the abundant insects which are attracted by the grassland flowers, a young woodland adjacent to Stonepit Field and some recently created large ponds add further wildlife interest.
Formerly arable land, the field was taken on by The Parks Trust who in 1993 sowed wildflower mixes across the site and removed the topsoil in the centre of the field to leave an exposed ‘scrape’ surrounded by grassland. This has created a variety of habitats used by a range of species.
What to look for
Most naturalists begin their visit by looking at the limestone scrape in the middle of Stonepit Field. A wide range of plant species can be seen here which are generally scarce in Milton Keynes such as Kidney Vetch, Salad Burnet, Harebell, Small Scabious, Horseshoe Vetch, and others. In mid-June, there are usually good numbers of Bee Orchid to be found on the scrape. An unusual plant, the parasitic Common Broomrape, can be found throughout the grassland. The copse to the south side of the site abuts the Railway Walk (formerly the Wolverton to Newport Pagnell railway line). In April and May, there is a fantastic display of Ramsons or Wild Garlic in this copse. Other plant species found here include Bluebell and Nettle-leaved Bellflower.
Although the site is not noted for its birds, Green Woodpecker and Kestrel are often to be seen and Linnet also occurs. Gorse has been planted around the site to provide nesting habitat for the latter. A Tawny Owl may sometimes be heard calling in the copse on the south side, adjoining the Railway Walk.
The site is perhaps best known for its diversity of invertebrates. Butterflies include Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Common Blue and Small Copper. In 2006, a colony of Small Blue butterflies was discovered and these seldom move far away from the scrape where they lay their eggs on Kidney Vetch. The White Letter Hairstreak also occurs, favouring the elm trees along the northern boundary of the site. In irruption years, Clouded Yellow is often seen.
Stonepit Field is probably one of the best areas in Milton Keynes for Orthoptera (grasshoppers and their allies). In high summer the grassland hums with the songs of Roesel’s Bush-cricket, Long-winged Conehead, Meadow Grasshopper and Lesser Marsh Grasshopper. Speckled Bush-cricket and Dark Bush-cricket occur in the copse. Numerous species of bee, beetle, dragonfly and spider can also be found in and around the limestone scrape and ponds.
Stonepit Field species glossary
The scientific names of all the species mentioned for Stonepit Field can be found in order of appearance in this species glossary.
How to get there
The entrance to Stonepit Field from Wolverton Road is at SP 845423 where there is a car park.
Walkers can also reach it from the grand Union Canal Towpath or the Railway Walk.
The Railway Walk is also a cycle route.
The nearest public transport
The number 7 bus stops at the Marlborough Roundabout, the junction of Saxon Street (V7) and Marlborough Street (V8). From here, walk along the redway, Railway Walk, towards Newport Pagnell (approximately 5 minutes) and turn left into Stonepit Field after passing the cemetery.
Useful links and further information
The nearest refreshment and toilet facilities are at The Black Horse Public House which is on the opposite side of the canal, a five minute walk from Stonepit Field.