Summer grazing holds the key to the maintenance and management of the Common Lands. The cattle are not only a wonderful feature of the meadows during the better weather but also a living connection with the meadows' heritage.
The first reference to these ancient pastures was over eight hundred years ago when the right to graze four cows and twenty sheep was given to the Hospital of St John next to Ballingdon Bridge. Some of the meadows, such as King's Marsh and Great and Little Freemen's Commons, have the longest record of continuous grazing in East Anglia.
The pastures provide feed for fattening cattle in the summer months before they are removed in the autumn ahead of the flood plain becoming saturated.
Cattle grazing over centuries has created a specific lowland pasture that supports a distinctive ecology with vegetation at different heights – making it suitable for a wide range of wildlife in different habitats.
People are given open access over the Common Lands and can roam where the cattle are grazing but the right of access is coupled with the duty of responsible behaviour. Please note that in order to enjoy your visit safely all notices at access points must be heeded.
Keep well away from all cattle. Keep dogs under control; they must not be allowed to chase birds or worry cattle. Your presence on this land implies that you accept the bylaws and site regulations. Click for more information on you and your dog on the Common Lands.