Is it green?
Desborough “Greenspace” is 22 hectares public open space. Although it is not a formal country park you would be forgiven if you thought it was. In addition to the grassland, it has an informal woodland copse based around a disused rail track and open spaces. The site is crisscrossed with formal and informal footpaths and has an all-weather circular walk of 1 kilometre with a series of fitness-based equipment along the walk. As with much of the land in Desborough, Greenspace is owned by North Northamptonshire Council.
Desborough’s Pocket Park is a peaceful area of green in the heart of Desborough. North Northamptonshire Council is responsible for the park which is maintained by a group of volunteers. The park can be accessed on foot from Federation Avenue, Prince Rupert Avenue, and also from Rothwell Road. The park contains an abundance of wild flowers and native trees, Willow, Hornbeam, Oak, Ash, and Sweet Chestnut.
Dunkirk Avenue Recreation Ground (“The Rec”) is a 2.96 hectare site located almost in the centre of the town. The ground has a tree lined perimeter, popular with children during conker season. Some of the larger trees were damaged in storms and had to be removed with others as part of a safety tree management plan. North Northamptonshire Council will be replacing those trees. The children’s play area caters for all ages whilst the main grassed area contains a full size adult football pitch along with a basketball area and outdoor gym (both provided by Desborough Town Council). Also present on the site is the outdoor bowls club with associated green. In 2012 the Recreation Ground was made a Queen Elizabeth II Field in Trust.
The name ‘The Plens’ dates from the 19th century and is indicative of the land at that time being flat. However in 1859, two years after the railway first came to Desborough, Ironstone quarrying began and continued in this area until 1966. Remains of a railway track and a large concrete lock which formed a loading bay are all that remain of an industry that spanned 107 years. But, what it has left behind is a varied topography and wildlife habitat. The site contains a variety of habitats from grassland and tall herbs to hawthorn scrub, hedges and woodland. Wild flowers include crimson grass vetchling which as its name suggests has grass like pointed leaves and small crimson flowers no more than 18mm in size. The hedge woundwort (a tall hairy plant with tall spires of crimson purple flowers much loved by bees) and elusive orchids have also been found here, as have moschatel – a pretty little flower that grows to only 15cm with pale green flowers. The head is made of five individual flowers, one four-petal facing upwards and four five-petal horizontally facing, which explains its other name – Townhall clock; whilst badgers voles and rabbits live in the undergrowth. Not to mention the bird life that also utilise the site such as warblers who nest in the scrub. The Plens has been looked after by the Wildlife Trust since 1986.
Tailby Meadow, a Local Nature Reserve, is a traditional hay meadow situated in the valley of the River Ise. The meadow has not been ploughed for approximately 250 years, indicated by an area of ridge and furrow found in the North West corner.
The Ise Valley is a green area located between the Damms and Tailby Meadow. It is an area of countryside that runs parallel to the southern end of the town which contributed greatly to creating a natural buffer between Desborough and neighbouring Rothwell. Access to the area is currently limited (November 2020), and the beauty of the area had been damaged by recent works to the area in advance of final planning consent for a proposed housing development.
The Damms is the area of land to the south of the Grade 1 listed church. In the 1700’s the area was known as Over and Nether Dams, and contains earthworks consisting of three dams, the largest being 2.5m high.
The Millennium Green is a gently sloping field predominantly laid to grass to encourage recreational use. Also planted with native trees and hedges but retaining some of the apples trees, a remnant of its historic use as a market garden. The Millennium Green is held in trust in perpetuity for the people of Desborough, in 2013 the Green was also awarded Queen Elizabeth ll field in trust status.
The cemetery (Rushton Road) supports a variety of wildlife and plants. Among the ten species of trees are several monkey puzzle trees and Yew trees common in churchyards and burial grounds throughout England, Ireland, and France.