The Wapping Nature Reserve
After years of negotiation, in 2002 the Parish Council acquired the lease of an area known locally as the ‘Rabbit Field’ It is in the care of the Parish Council and is managed as a nature reserve for the benefit of the community. Members of the public are welcome to visit. The Reserve lies on the hillside behind New Bath Hotel can be reached from Clifton Road and from The Wapping Footpath and Bridleway. Its day to day management is carried out by a committee of which Mike Greenan, father of the project, is the current Chair. He now explains a little about the Reserve.
When the Parish Council took the area over, it had become very overgrown with brambles taking over many of the once open areas. It is not intended to clear all of the area but nature does need a little controlling influence otherwise many of the natural flora and fauna will disappear, swamped by the more aggressive inhabitants. When the initial programme is complete, the reserve will consist of open areas interspersed with thickets and small copses of trees. There are many large mature trees which will become a features of some of the areas. Parish Council volunteers have created a network of pathways through the field so as to make it accessible all year round. The main paths have been constructed with stone, with more being built on a phased basis as funding allows. The new stone paths will soon cover with leaves and be less visible. The remaining natural path network requires constant cutting back to remove brambles and care is required in this natural environment.
There are many species of trees and wild flowers. The intention is to label these so that everyone will recognise them. The range of wild flowers season by season is quite amazing. These include Campion, Stitchwort, Nettle, Wood Sorrel, St. John's Wort, Willowherb, Primrose, Bindweed, Periwinkle, Forgetmenot, Foxglove, Speedwell and Common Spotted Orchid. When the Bluebells are out, they cover large parts of the field. As more the selective clearing takes place, other dormant species will flower.
It is intended to place benches at strategic points. Some were installed in the past but were removed. Future designs will be simple and set in concrete. Future work will included clearing a terrace in the area around the very large tree which stands at the top of the main central path. There is little flat ground but this should provide a suitable area for the schoolchildren to enjoy a lesson in the fresh air. A path, wide enough for prams and wheelchairs, will be created alongside the trackway from Clifton Road to the Wapping Gate. It is hoped that this may be funded by a grant from DCC in recognition of the disruption caused in the village by adjacent quarrying.
If no funding can be arranged, it will be built by parish volunteers.
As a nature reserve, it is important that certain rules are followed. These rules are displayed at the entrance to the Reserve.
Dogs welcome BUT……. as the Reserve is used by everyone including children, you are asked to ensure that you do not allow your dog to foul the area. This does not refer only to the footpaths. Children should be free to explore the field, confident that it is safe and pleasant to do so.
Please do not pick the wild flowers. Please do not light fires. Horses must not go beyond the bottom path which joins the Wapping Bridleway. The steps on the bridleway were specifically reinforced and spaced to be suitable for horses. The field paths are only designed for pedestrian use. Please take your litter home. Plastic and glass can injure people and be a hazard to wildlife.
The nature reserve is open during daylight hours and can be accessed from Clifton Road or from the Wapping Bridleway.
If you are interested in helping develop this fabulous asset, why not offer to help. There are many opportunities. We don't just need volunteers to clear brambles and build steps, although we need as many of those as possible. The trees need identifying and labelling. The flowers also need to be properly identified and mapped so that we don't strim them. The birdsong is incredible, especially after the rain. We hear the woodpeckers but do not see them. Could you tell us which birds are here and when? Could you design flora and fauna information for the website? Could you chart the footpaths and produce a detailed map of the reserve? Are you interested in dry stone walling? The list is endless. Why not contact us with any suggestions you think would be useful? Why not join the Nature Reserve Committee and have your input there. The more we do to enhance the reserve, the more likely it is that we will qualify for funding. It’s a village resource so please help to make it as good as possible for now and for the future.
The Parish Council has a Committee who manage the Nature Reserve and meet each month to discuss a programme of work. The next meeting of the Nature Reserve Committee will be held on Thursday 21st February 2013. If you would like to attend, please contact the Clerk beforehand in case of last minute changes.