Ruddington - Rushcliffe Country Park
w/e 05 November 2006
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

The mild weather of recent weeks seems to have confused the trees locally as many are still in the summer finery despite the fact that we are now into November. A fleeting visit to Shipley Country Park with the intention of capturing some autumnal images proved fruitless so I thought I'd wait awhile and try my luck elsewhere.

Rushcliffe Country Park

That "elsewhere" turned out to be Rushcliffe Country Park at Ruddington, just to the south of Nottingham and although I did find some colour (see above), generally speaking it was the same story here too. Rushcliffe Country Park covers 210 acres but is a relatively new development on the site of a former Ministry of Defence Depot used for storing decommissioned weapons and is not nearly as mature as its counterpart at Shipley.
Heritage Centre

Plan Of ParkThe park is adjacent to a large Business Park and alongside the Nottinghamshire Heritage Centre which is home to a collection of steam trains and classic buses. In fact the railway line runs through the park and splits it into two with a smaller area being to the north and a much larger area to the south of the line. A bridge over the line, the northern end being seen in the image above, connects the two parts. The design and reclamation of the former MOD site was completed by Nottinghamshire County Council in 1993, but since then, it has come under the jurisdiction of, and been managed by, Rushcliffe Borough Council.
Play Complex

From the other end of the railway bridge, the view to the south west is over an extensive play area for children which has about twenty pieces of equipment for their entertainment and enjoyment. This play complex together with a skate park further over to the left and the picnic area cost over £180,000 to build but it is well used by the local populace. The tall chimney that can be seen on the horizon is at Ratcliffe On Soar Power Station and from the same direction, aircraft could be seen flying to and from the nearby airport at Castle Donington.
The Burning Ground

Barn Owl BoxTo the south of the play complex, the land rises slightly to the highest point in the park at Foamer Hill. Although there are over eight kilometres of paths through the park there are also many areas that are fenced to protect the newly planted trees as they grow towards maturity. On Foamer Hill a plantation (above left) of alder and birch trees provide protection for slower growing beech, oak and ash. A number of barn owl boxes that also attract little owls and kestrels have been erected in the park and this one pictured right is in the Foamer Hill plantation. Descending the hill the grassy area seen ahead and to the right in the main picture above is known as the Burning Ground. This is because during the Second World War, waste materials were burned here. Discarded cordite and magnesium were mixed with the waste and produced huge flares. After the war the area, tarmac covered, became a storage place for surplus military vehicles.

A large lake has been created in the park which is popular with wildfowl and humans alike. Refreshments are available at the Heritage Centre and also at the kiosk opposite at various times depending on the availability of volunteers. Also opposite is the Environmental Education Centre which, true to its name, is powered by a pair 5kW turbines. The rooftops beyond are on buildings at the adjacent Business Park.
Reed Beds

LakeAlthough fairly new, the lake has already become a valuable resource in the regeneration process of the area and the reedbeds have become an important habitat for many species of bird and insect life. In summer, butterflies, dragon and damselflies are common and in the winter months, the reeds provide a valuable refuge against predators such as foxes, sparrowhawks and kestrels for the starlings and reed buntings that roost at the top of the reeds. They have also found favour with all manner of water birds as can be seen above. I still didn't get those autumnal images I was after but the visit to Rushcliffe Country Park was worthwhile nonetheless.

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