This element of the Living North Pennines initiative is improving access to key waterside sites so that more people can enjoy the sights and sounds of the riverbank or reservoir shoreline.
Work is also going on with landowners and managers to improve habitats so that wetland creatures – particularly the engaging little water vole – can thrive once more in the area.
Working for water voles
The North Pennines Water Vole Project got underway in July 2008 with confirmation from the SITA Trust of funding for a three-year programme of survey and habitat improvement work for water voles. Three areas of the North Pennines were recently (2010) designated as National Key Sites for water voles, because of the drastic decline in numbers throughout the UK and the relative stability in our upper dales. To find out more, see the following pages:
With our partners Northumbrian Water Ltd. we have created a new multi-user path between Pow Hill Country Park and Millshields Picnic area on the north side of Derwent Reservoir dam. You can find out more about the history and wildlife of the area by clicking on Welcome to Derwent Reservoir and Pow Hill Country Park! This will take you to a self-guided trail leaflet and information about the on-site audio trail created as part of the AONB Partnership’s Living North Pennines project.
We have also been busy restoring two valuable habitats on the south shore of the reservoir near Pow Hill. Heath and Fen has been disappearing under bracken for many years. We have now fenced a large area to allow grazing by Soay sheep, and have organised two seasons of bracken cutting and grazing by the Soays. This will allow the heather, bilberry and wetland plants to recover.
Five new ponds have also been created at the west end of the reservoir at Carricks. These ponds will complement the existing wetlands created about 10 years ago on the west side of the alder woodland, and provide a home to amphibians and myriad invertebrates. Hibernation structures for amphibians and reptiles are also being built into the soil banks which resulted from the pond excavation.
We improved a kilometre section of the Pennine Way near Wynch Bridge in 2009 by replacing difficult stiles with self closing gates and surfacing the eroded path. This work will help protect the botanically important grasslands along the route from excessive trampling and erosion. New signage and interpretation has also been erected near Wynch Bridge, High Force Hotel, and the Bowlees Picnic area.
Contact Andy Lees, tel 01388 528801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.