Another great turn out by the Friends on Wednesday and a beautiful morning to boot.
We intended our main task to be reinforcing the fence and hedge line of the pond but we actually began by choosing delegates to go and ask Hope Nature Centre to deal with the cars some of their visitors had parked, despite dragons’ teeth and notices to the contrary, all along the verges and beyond their authorised parking area in Simpson’s Field.
The rest of us headed for the pond. Rich had sourced some good lengths of stock fencing and Clive and Simon were soon reinforcing the inner fence line.
By the end of the morning the fence from the Willow at the start of the pond to the Oak at the exiting stream was in very good order. While this was going on Sarah and Joan and the rest were planting and watering in well over 50 whips of Hawthorn, Dogwood and Hazel to thicken up the somewhat decimated hedge.
The reason we are bolstering this fence line is to protect the shallow part of the pond butting this fence that encourages the growth of water weeds and water loving plants such as Figwort and Water Plantain.
The pond’s nursery area
This environment harbours the smaller amphibians, young fish and amongst others, the nymphs of Dragonflies and Damselflies. These latter may spend up to 5 years as nymphs before climbing out of the water using stems and reeds to then burst out to become the beautiful forms they take for just a few weeks at best. There is a lot of life in the pond but it does need protecting.
We are NOT banning dogs from going into the pond, but we would like them to enter via the Village Green field rather that from the hard path, and when possible not to disrupt this “nursery” area.
In the meantime, Pat was doing her usual litter sweep and joined us for coffee, as did Vicky and the HNC delegation. As always coffee and the general chat was good, improved for me by sightings of Buzzard, Heron and the year’s first female Orange-tip. Later, I saw a male Orange-tip and a Brimstone butterfly in Simpsons field.
Buzzard, Heron, Orang-tip and Brimstone
There was nowhere to park on Wednesday. Lots of visitors to the cafe and play park and I went and walked my dog on the towpath instead.
Hello. I wanted to ask about the parking situation. I’m someone who uses the park daily to walk. Yesterday the parking was so stressful and crazy: nowhere to park in bottom carpark, lots of cars badly parked. Is there any plan for a car park extension now the Hope Nature Centre is back open? I understand that it is the school holidays but I expect with all the marketing for the new facilities that have been installed it will be busy through the week.
The situation is very difficult. HNC has spent a LOT of money on improvements to their site (which they rent from Wiltshire Council) but they seem not to have taken into account that they have limited parking capacity for all the people their advertising has attracted. Last year, the county agreed to an extension to their authorised parking area at the top of Simpson’s Field but their customers move the barriers and park wherever they can find. And of course they fill up the Nature Reserve car park as well.
Isnt the nature centre part of the park? Cant you do something about it?
Hope Nature Centre is part of Fairfield Farm College (https://www.ffc.ac.uk/). The land belongs to the county; Fairfield acquired the business a couple of years ago and seems to have invested heavily in improvements and in advertising. The result is a much enlarged clientele, almost all arriving by car, with nowhere to park.
This is a very difficult situation, regarding the public benefit of the restaurant in the Hope Centre. Some of their customers must be diverted away from other cafes and pubs, so they are making it more difficult for commercial premises just that little bit more difficult to survive and recover from Covid. As I understand it, the Hope Centre is paying a peppercorn rent for the land and their appetite for parking appears insatiable. So, they are being subsidised by the Local Authority.
They do help disadvantaged youngsters but their activities are hazarding that part of our Local Nature Reserve. It is a moral dilemma!
Yes, it IS difficult. Fairfield College’s work at Hope Nature Centre for youngsters with special needs is beyond criticism but the cost of its delivery should not be the biodiversity of a Local Nature Reserve, or the public’s access to it. There have been complaints all week from regular visitors to the Reserve that they have been unable to park because our car park is full of HNC’s visitors.
Hopefully you will be able to work something out between your two organisations. It would be sad if either were to be negatively affected by this.
They should have a booking system and somebody on the gate.
What on earth is going on with the parking?