Ilkeston - Pioneer Meadows, Kirk Hallam
w/e 13 March 2005
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

Pioneer Meadows

A sign on Wirksworth Road on the Kirk Hallam estate to the south west of Ilkeston points to a little known area of grassland, woods and a pond known collectively as Pioneer Meadows. Purchased by the Erewash Borough Council from British Steel in the early 1950s, it has been developed as a local nature reserve.

Although this is perhaps not the best time of year to be looking for wildlife, Pioneer Meadows is classed as a Grade 1 site on the County Biological Sites Register and the grassland is rich in different species. Plants such as Common Toadflax, Devil's-bit Scabious and Lady's Smock can all be found as well as Cow Parsley and Hogweed, all of which encourage a large variety of insect life.

At the southern end of the site this footbridge over Sow Brook leads to a network of paths across the fields to Dale Moor and the villages of Stanton By Dale and Dale Abbey. A tramway used to run adjacent to the site transporting raw materials from nearby excavations.
Fishing Spot

Those excavations were responsible for what is now the pond in the middle of the site as it was originally dug as an ironstone pit by Stanton Industries. Since its transformation into a pond it has been a popular with anglers although it was described in 1979 as a "filthy fishing spot" neglected and uncared for. The establishment of the site as a nature reserve has improved the area considerably since then.
Strategic Seat

The fishing rights for many years were held by the Pioneer Club but when the club left, the name Pioneer Pond stuck and later, in 1988 the fields around the pond were officially called Pioneer Meadows. Now, as well as numerous fishing stations around the pond, some strategically placed seats allow for other visitors to sit and reflect on the images in the still waters.
Threatening Sky

It was tempting to sit a while by the pond but the threatening sky to the west cut short any thoughts of a prolonged stay. Whilst walking through the site we saw robins, blackbirds and wood pigeons and heard many other birds in the trees. Although we did not see any whilst there, it is reported that Greenfinches, Blue Tits and even Kestrels in search of mice and voles, can regularly be seen.

An information board near the entrance to Pioneer Meadows includes a map of the site and I have marked on the image below the approximate positions that the six images above were taken.

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