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 but initial steps were taken to improve the landscape by planting trees. 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 planned and planted several new orchards, as well as new hedges, woodlands and meadow.

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. For example, in 2018 we applied for funding from the Environment Agency to pay for engineers to draw up plans to create a new wetland area alongside the Bin Brook.

One of the challenges that we now face is the management of some of the wildlife habitats and visitor facilities that were created 10 years ago, for example we need to cut paths, lay hedges and thin out woodlands. As we continue to work on Coton Countryside Reserve as a green belt resource for the people of the greater Cambridge area, we are establishing a Coton Working Group.  There is always plenty to do, and we welcome volunteers on our regular working parties.

Please join us and help shape this wonderful site for the next decade and beyond.