Brockholes, Preston – “An Unreserved Reserve”

by David Murray on 11 November 2011

in Lancashire, Nature Reserves, Ribble Valley

Brockholes Nature Reserve just outside Preston is a remarkable initiative of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. I am old enough to remember the building of Britain’s first motorway. And it wasn’t the M1; it was the M6 Preston bypass. For almost forty years I would regularly drive the seven or eight miles from home to join the motorway at Junction 31, very often turning north over the Ribble bridge and passing the gravel pits below. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that there would one day be a wildlife haven down beneath that busy road. But today this is the reality.

The whole area is being transformed, and earlier this year the Trust opened its innovative floating visitor centre. Yes, even the restaurant and shops float on the water. This is not the kind of nature reserve on which green-clad middle-aged adults, toting long-lensed cameras and field glasses, move slowly around the paths like Trappist monks under vow of silence. There is a place for that kind of reserve, but this one is different. It describes itself as an “unreserved reserve” and welcomes the chatter of children.

There are family events of many kinds including recently a food festival and something called “Pumpkin Mania” which I’m sure you had to see to believe. The events calendar has recently included an evening on “Exotic wildlife photography”. There are organised walks, including Sunday afternoon (two and a half hours) guided tours of the reserve, and Wednesday afternoon one-hour “meanders”. Yes this reserve is for wildlife; but it is also for people.

Even the business world is catered for. There’s no anti-business greenery here. A well-appointed meetings centre is available for hire and, unlike so many cafes and restaurants with their “no meetings” notices, people are actively encouraged to leave the M6 and stop off to meet colleagues and customers around a table while floating on the lake.

But don’t be deceived. There’s also a serious conservation agenda here. There’s woodland, wet grassland, hay meadow, and of course the water. These are all being managed with a view to developing Brockholes as a wonderful place for birds, mammals and other wildlife as well as their human observers.

Now for an admission. I’ve written that entirely from what I’ve been told. No longer living in the area I haven’t yet visited Brockholes for myself (hence no picture here) – but it’s very definitely on the agenda. Congratulations to the Lancashire Wildlife Trust for a splendid initiative.

Read more at Brockholes.org.

See also: “Nature in the North

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