This 20 hectare site, formally a lowland farm was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2012. It includes the sports pitches of Crawley Rugby Club, two streams, two large unimproved meadows and extensive hedgerows. The meadows and hedgerows are particularly important habitats being uncommon within Crawley Borough. The site provides an accessible natural green space for Crawley residents and is part of an important natural buffer zone between Gatwick Airport and the residential areas of Crawley.
The older more traditional farming methods have protected the unimproved pasture of these fields allowing the wide variety of flowers to become established. Plants found in the area around the sports pitches include the semi-parasitic yellow rattle. The wildflowers in turn attract many grassland butterflies such as small copper, small heath, common blue and skippers. Ant hills are numerous, providing feeding for green woodpeckers, while nightingales have been heard singing from the thick blackthorn hedgerows in late spring. Other bird life includes yellowhammer, whitethroat and bullfinch. The brook offers a chance of seeing kingfisher, together with large numbers of the blue-winged Beautiful Demoiselle, a species of damselfly usually seen in June and July.
For more information see the site report and species list .
Combine your visit with the Willoughby Wander
Help to manage this site, become a volunteer with Gatwick GreenSpace Partnership .
Willoughby Fields is part of The Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge, operated by Fields in Trust , a campaign to protect outdoor recreational spaces in communities all across the country as a permanent living legacy of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Six outdoor spaces in Crawley were chosen to become part of the scheme – one for each decade of the Queen’s reign.
This site can be accessed from the Rugby Club car park on Ifield Avenue.
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West Sussex RH10 1UZ