This week I've visited two nature reserves owned or managed by the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside. I've begun volunteering with the Trust's education and outreach department and so far I've been a Viking for the day and also helped with a survival day, learning how to build shelters and fires in the wild.
Both days were great fun (more about what I actually got up to later in the week) and I'm sure part of it was having the activities in such wonderful surroundings. My Viking experience was run on Booth's Plantation, near the Trust's Education Centre in Penwortham. The plantation is lovely thick woodland, well sheltered and far enough away from roads to feel like you really might have travelled back into Viking times- except for the large substation on the hill behind! Due to funding cuts (both for the Wildlife Trust and the National Grid who owns the land) this was the last event to be held at the Education Centre and Booth's Plantation. This is really sad as the Centre has been built up over 15 years with orchards, allotment plots and beautifully painted classrooms with pictures of nature everywhere. The care and passion that has gone into producing such a wonderful asset is obvious and it must be devastating for those who work there to have to leave it all behind.
But leave it they must and move to their new reserve which will be the Trust's base at Brockholes. I haven't visited this site yet but hopefully I will soon, anywhere with a name that means "badger holes" in Old English has got to be a good place to protect wildlife!
The survival day I helped with was at Mere Sands Wood reserve which has a huge diversity of habitats from around Lancashire, including heaths, woodland, lakes and marsh. We worked in the deciduous woodland and while rain threatened all day it held off mostly. It was great to be out in the fresh air and nature and I'm looking forward to visiting the reserve again soon to have a proper look round all of the 105 acres.
With a chill in the air Autumn is a brilliant time to get out and warm up with a walk. Where's your nearest nature reserve? Why not find out this weekend and visit it, or if you already know it visit somewhere you've never been to before. That reminds me that I really need to go for my weekly walk before the weeks over!