Just a mile or so from Chorley town centre, is one of the top 40 wildflower meadows in the United Kingdom.

There is something about Freeman’s Pasture, it grabs you as you step into the long grass, and step back to a time when meadows were not squeezed of all their life and colour.

Wildflower meadows should be common around Lancashire, but we have lost more than 95 per cent in the UK since 1945. The decline has been accelerated by building, development and agriculture. One of my local meadows was treated with substances until it became almost luminous green. Then the farmer stopped spraying and the meadow has now come to life with purples, blues and yellows.

Great British Life: Getting deep into the pasture. Getting deep into the pasture. (Image: Alan Wright)

These meadows are vital for wildlife, providing shelter and food. Different plants have varying depths of roots adding nutrients and water into the soil. Farmers get the benefits of a much more nutritious and healthy feed for their livestock.

Plainly, the work of our South Lancashire Reserves Officer, John Haddon, to keep this meadow in its natural state is vital. It is home to more than 120 species of plants, attracting some 383 species of invertebrates.

John points out the abundance of Dyer's green weed and devil's bit scabious: ‘Both are quite rare but at one time would have been widespread,’ he says.

Great British Life: Devils bit scabious is a rare flower. Devils bit scabious is a rare flower. (Image: John Lamb)

‘There is also a good population of the chimney sweeper moth which is uncommon in Lancashire and feeds on pignut which is common on the site but not found very often in the rest of the county.’

Freeman’s Pasture has been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest, for more than 20 years. It’s the type of place where you can get down on your hands and knees and find something different in every square yard. The green and yellow dip of the valley towards the woodland is dotted with the blues and purples of orchids among the grasses and sedges.

It does remind me of picnics in the summer, but we can’t allow too much disturbance of this site so there is currently no public access apart from the annual open day.

Great British Life: Six spotted burnet moth. Six spotted burnet moth. (Image: Alan Wright)

When the sun is shining through the Dyer’s greenwood, buttercups, daisies and other yellow flowers it gives you a real sense of joy and warmth. And when you are deep in the grass, you will meet astonishing six-spot burnet moths and, my favourite, the chimney sweeper moth, black with a white edge to their wings. I am never fast enough to get a photo of the latter.

Roe deer and rabbits feed here on the nutritious variety of food available. Swifts and swallows hunt bugs over the meadow on overcast days when the clouds push them down to just-above-ground level.

Freeman’s Pasture is a step back in time, to a better place, a more colourful place, and a healthier place for people and wildlife.

To help support the work of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust on nature reserves like Freeman’s Pasture, join our biggest ever fundraising appeal, Step up for Wildlife, individually, or through your school, college, community group or workplace.

Great British Life: The chimney sweeper moth. The chimney sweeper moth. (Image: Rachel Scopes)