Villagers dig in to transform nature reserve

Ellington Nature Reserve that has had work completed on it to improve the area for residents and visitors. Pictured are John Robson and George Jackson.
Ellington Nature Reserve that has had work completed on it to improve the area for residents and visitors. Pictured are John Robson and George Jackson.

A TEAM of Ellington residents have seen their vision of improving a wildlife area in the village turn into reality.

Work has been completed at the nature reserve off Cresswell Road after the group successfully applied for thousands of pounds in funding.

These include a new hide and walkway, a dipping pier and pathways, as well as making the five-acre site more disabled-friendly.

The land, which includes a large sinkhole pond, is owned by Alcan Farms, but Ellington and Linton Parish Council agreed a long lease to allow its designation as a local nature reserve.

However, the authority was unable to tap into grant funding for improvements so after leafleting the parish for volunteers, the Ellington Pond Group was formed.

Chairman George Jackson, said: “Before these works the paths were overgrown and muddy and the entrance to the hide was rotten so it’s wonderful to see the transformation of the site.

“Since the changes we have noticed that not much litter is being dropped, even by groups of children. I think people appreciate it when an area open to the public is kept clean and tidy.

“Everyone in the group was given a responsibility and didn’t mind getting wet and their hands dirty during the project.”

The area also includes new seats, an information board giving details of the animals that can be seen such as frogs, water spiders, butterflies and Sand martins, and a storage unit where the group can keep equipment.

A grant of up to £50,000 was provided through the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Spaces programme, managed by Groundwork UK.

And there was a £7,000 donation awarded by Groundwork North East, which project managed the improvement works.

Mr Jackson said: “We see the reserve as being recreational and educational.

“Children can put their nets in the pond at the dipping pier, whereas before the works they could only get so far until they were blocked off from the water.

“We are very grateful to Community Spaces for believing in us to achieve what we set out to do and helping us to do everything in the right way, and Groundwork North East for managing the project so well.”

The group will continue to make improvements to the reserve and future plans include planting a wildflower meadow and regenerating the pond so that different plants can be grown.

A grand opening event is being held on Saturday, April 23 from 11am. Activities will include a bird ringing demonstrations, a bug hunt and an Easter Egg hunt. Refreshments will also be available.

Organisations such as Alcan, Northumberland County Council and the Northumberland Wildlife Trust have been invited to see the transformation.