The path that you are now walking along sits atop an old oil pipeline which was constructed in 1956. The presence of this pipeline prevented the aggregate company from digging here during the gravel extraction, thus a path was left cutting across the lake.
You may also notice some old stone blocks scattered in this area. These were originally part of the old railway bridge and were used by Hanson to prevent public vehicles entering the site during gravel extraction. Now, the trust plans to upcycle some of these blocks to form a sculpture trail around the public lakes.
Habitats and Species
If you look at the lake margins on either side of the path you will notice large areas of reed bed. Reedbeds are among the most important habitats for birds in the UK. They support breeding birds including the rare bittern, little grebe and water rail as well as providing roost sites for murmurations of starlings. More commonly, reed and sedge warblers sing out from the stands and kingfishers flash past, their metallic colours catching the eye.
Reedbeds are also good for invertebrates – iridescent damselflies like banded demoiselle and common blues rest on the emergent vegetation, while nimble dragonflies, such as the four-spotted chaser and hairy dragonfly, hunt the area for insects.
If left unmanaged, reed beds degrade quickly as scrub and willow start to grow, outcompeting the reeds. Therefore, the trust has to regularly remove willow to prevent this important habitat being lost.
“I remember… taking my children on a cycle route across the corn field, down the railway track and back up King’s Meadow Way. I remember the dog swimming in the lakes, falling off the bridge and coming out covered in duckweed!”