Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve is owned by the Ministry of Defence and covers 40 hectares of moorland edge adjacent to Cambrain Lines at Catterick, North Yorkshire.

It has a remarkable mix of habitats including semi-natural woodland, willow and alder carr, coniferous woodlands, heathland, flower-rich grassland and wet meadow, streams, ponds and wetlands. 

Foxglove Covert was awarded Flagship Pond status in 2014 because it is one of the very best sites in the UK for freshwater biodiversity. The wetland complex consists of numerous ponds constructed in 2008 which are fed by water abstracted from a spring. The water circulates through the ponds via a system of pipes and bunds, and a number of pre-existing, much older but very high quality, shallow pools, some of which dry out naturally every year. This cluster of wildlife rich ponds hold exceptional wetland plant communities, an increasingly rare sight in the UK. The wetland also supports several of Britain’s most endangered freshwater plants and animals, including Great Crested Newts Triturus cristatus, Water Voles Arvicola amphibius, delicate rare plants like Pillwort Pilularia globulifera and Marsh Stitchwort Stellaria palustris, and a small unassuming snail – the Pond Mud Snail Omphiscola glabra, which is a specialist of high quality ponds and an indicator of ancient wetland habitats. 

Pillwort is a very distinctive little grass-like plant. It is in fact an aquatic fern with thin, threadlike leaves which unfurl from tight coils as it grows and produces hard spore cases ‘the pills’. In the right conditions it forms a creeping mat over bare mud at the margins of ponds and lakes which can look like a miniature bright green lawn. Pillwort is a Priority Species for conservation in both England and Wales. It is declining rapidly throughout its north-west European range and the UK now holds a substantial proportion of the global population. 

Pond Mud Snail is a rare and declining wetland mollusc. Historically, this species was widespread throughout lowland areas of England and Wales. Although possibly under-recorded, it is thought that this species has undergone a marked decline in the last 50 years and it is now classified as vulnerable (IUCN). 

Location: Yorkshire

Accessibility: Some Flagship Pond sites are accessible to the public, and some are not. If in doubt, consult maps for rights of way, look online for site information, or contact the site manager, and follow any instructions on site. It is up to you to check whether you require permission to visit and access the ponds on a site.

Site owners/managers: Ministry of Defence