In the 1930s, with financial help from Professor George M Trevelyan, we were able to acquire 300 acres of farmland near Coton village on the western edge of Cambridge. We bought this land specifically to prevent urban sprawl and protect the historic villages of Madingley, Coton and Grantchester and the setting of the historic city of Cambridge. Initial steps were taken to improve the landscape by planting trees but work was halted by World War II and afterwards by the need to save the Gog Magog Hills and create Wandlebury Country Park. During this time the land was managed as a mixed farm with arable and livestock, providing an income for the charity's work.

In the 1990s, we began to ask how we could improve the farm holding for nature and to benefit the increasing population of the Cambridge area. In 2003 we finalised an ambitious long-term proposal for a new Coton Countryside Reserve on some of this land, which would combine nature, public access and a working farm.

Funding was secured from central and local government, grants, donations and legacies. Work got underway in 2004 to create new paths and entrances, picnic spots, new ponds, information boards and car parking. With the help of the community we planted several new orchards, as well as new hedges, woodlands and meadow - in five years we planted 10,000 trees and shrubs!

The concrete “spine route” through the reserve provides easy access for walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and wheelchair users. We officially opened this path and the new reserve in 2008.

The farmland on the Reserve is managed sensitively for wildlife by our tenant farmer who is supported through a Higher Level Countryside Stewardship grant.

Coton Countryside Reserve is long-term project and we are still working to try and realise all our plans as part of our efforts to deliver the Cambridge Nature Network. For example, we are progressing plans to create a new wetland area alongside the Bin Brook, click here to find out more about this exciting project. Between 2021-2023 we have carried out a project to restore an area of 'lost meadows' and open them to the public and we have planted two new areas of woodland. We are also looking to future and setting out our longer term vision.

We are working hard to maintain the wildlife habitats and visitor facilities that were created in the 2000s, for example we cut meadows, mow paths, lay hedges and thin out woodlands. As we continue to work on Coton Countryside Reserve we need help from willing volunteers. You can join our volunteer work parties or get in touch if you would like to help on a more regular basis please click here.

Please support us and help us shape the Reserve into a wonderful place for future generations.