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Ballalough Reedbeds

A reedbed and meadow with traditional Manx sod hedge on the outskirts of the island’s ancient capital

Habitats: Reedbed and meadow

Notable species: Common reed (Phragmites australis), false fox-sedge (Carex otrubae) and common-spotted orchids.

Description: The reserve comprises two fields divided by a traditional Manx sod hedge that is lined with hawthorn.

The fields are lower lying than the surrounding land and this, together with a ditch, is sufficient to maintain quite a high water table and create the right conditions for the growth of common reed that occurs as a strip around the northern edge of the two fields.

This type of habitat is very rare on the Island (covering just 0.03% of the land area) as it is very susceptible to drainage. Reedbeds are a valuable habitat for wildlife supporting a number of specialist birds including willow warbler, sedge warbler and reed bunting, as well as insects, other invertebrates and frogs.

Grassland occupies the remainder of the fields, the more westerly is fairly dry but the other quite wet. It is here that large quantities of false fox sedge can be found, unusual as it is normally found near the coast.

The meadow and wetland are rich in wildflowers including ragged robin, greater bird's-foot-trefoil, vetches, red clover, meadow vetchling, marsh woundwort, marsh cinquefoil, meadowsweet and wild angelica.

Management: In 1998, the Trust obtained a grant from the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund enabling the reserve to be fenced, a small parking area created and a hedge of native shrubs planted. The reserve is managed to maintain and enhance this valuable and rare habitat which includes an annual cut of the grassland in the drier of the two fields.

The Trust manages this site on behalf of Castletown Commissioners.

Species and habitats

Meadow, Wetland

Nearby nature reserves

Scarlett Visitor Centre and Nature Trail
1 miles - Manx Wildlife Trust
3 miles - Manx Wildlife Trust
3 miles - Manx Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Off Castletown by-pass (A5)
Isle of Man
Map reference
SC 258 682
Best time to visit
Apr - Jul
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Opening Times
Open at all times
1.50 hectares

A small off-road car park off the A5
Dogs must be on lead
Reserve manager
Tricia Sayle, Reserves Officer
Tel: 01624 844432