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Fleecefaulds Meadow Wildlife Reserve is a superb remnant of unimproved calcareous grassland and fen. It lies about two miles south of the village of Ceres and covers 12.5 hectares on the north-facing slope of the central "rigging of Fife".



Look out for the beautiful globe flower - Trollius europaeus which in east Fife is only found at Fleecefaulds Meadow


Access to the Reserve

Find the public car park in the centre of Ceres village and with the entrance to the car park on your left take the small unclassified road that leaves Ceres in a southerly direction for Largo. After about two miles the road climbs a steep hill curving to the right.

Ignore the farm track on your right to Fleecefaulds Farm and a little further on (if you reach the main entrance to Teasses House on your left you have gone too far) look out for a track amongst the trees leading to a gate and a Scottish Wildlife Trust sign.

There is room to park beyond the gate. A further gate leads into the Meadow itself. Please shut all gates behind you as there may be sheep and cattle grazing in the Meadow.

There are no footpaths in the Meadow and the ground is in places quite steep and rough. The lower parts of the reserve can be quite damp and boggy, so suitable footwear is advised.



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Fleecefaulds Meadow

Ceres

NO 401 086
O.S. Sheet 59



Wildlife

The whole hillside was once part of a coral reef which can be traced for several miles towards the west. These limestone deposits were worked in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and the multitude of base-rich seepages which emerge across the slope has given rise to a great diversity of plant communities including both dry and flushed limestone grassland, calcareous heath, rich fen and lowland scrub.

Over 160 plant species have been recorded so far. Fleecefaulds contains the sole surviving colony in east Fife of the beautiful globe flower - Trollius europaeus. Many woodland-edge bird species, among them warblers and finches, nest in the scrub or on the ground and many butterflies are to be found, including tortoiseshells, common blues, red admirals and painted ladies. A male orange-tip has also been recorded. But much remains to be discovered.


Historical Perspective

The early history of Fleecefaulds has yet to be fully researched. It is thought that some form of building has existed on the site of the present steading since the late seventeenth century, and the very name suggests that it was originally a kind of sheepwalk with appropriate farming systems associated with it.

More recently it was part of the Teasses estate and was farmed by Mark Black, who with his brother Timothy is one of the owners of Teasses. In 1992 some peripheral parts of the estate were sold, and the small farm of Fleecefaulds was split: the meadow on the lower ground, consisting of a Site of special Scientific Interest of 30 acres and two small outlying areas were bought by Commander Frank Spragge (seen in the picture in "his" meadow) at the end of that year. In 1999 Fleecefaulds Meadow was gifted by Commander Spragge to the Scottish Wildlife Trust.


Management

For at least the last 20 years this has consisted only of sporadic grazing by cattle, which has not been enough to prevent gradual encroachment by coarse grasses and scrub, now slowly smothering the lime-loving plants.

Although much botanical survey work has been done in the past, a thorough base-line survey was carried out in the 1994 summer season against which the effectiveness of all future management can be measured. Secondly, a careful grazing regime by cattle and sheep has been instituted. But it will take several years to get the levels just right. A generous grant from Scottish Natural Heritage enabled Commander Spragge to fence the whole meadow. And thirdly scrub control must take place.

While a certain amount of growth provides good bird and insect habitat, there is presently too much, and most of the gorse and some of the hawthorn and briar will be cut back, again over a period of years, to allow optimum redevelopment of the grassland. Although the botanical interest must take precedence, management for birds and invertebrates must be built in too.

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