3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Hampshire Life today click here

Evaluating the changes brought to Winnall Moors in Winchester

PUBLISHED: 16:15 18 March 2014 | UPDATED: 16:15 18 March 2014

Winnall Moors - great for people

Winnall Moors - great for people

Archant

In 2008, the Wildlife Trust began an ambitious five-year plan to improve Winnall Moors, a beautiful nature reserve just minutes from Winchester’s city centre. Now the project has finished Martin de Retuerto, Winnall Moors Project Manager, evaluates the changes

Boardwalks make it easy to get aroundBoardwalks make it easy to get around

Today, a visit to Winnall Moors offers a glimpse into the past. In days gone by, this wetland area in the Itchen Valley was used to graze livestock; management of the water levels to maintain luscious grass was essential, and wildlife was abundant.

During the last five years, the Wildlife Trust has gradually restored the floodplain meadow by reconnecting it to the River Itchen and reinstating the traditional water meadow system that uses sluices and carrier ditches to control the water. Now many different species, which once characterised the entire valley, have been given the chance to thrive again.

One of our first tasks was to rebuild the chalk stream habitats to help populations of wild fish, especially brown trout and migratory salmon. This project won national acclaim due to the sustainable and innovative techniques we adopted. We removed trees from across the whole floodplain, in particular the planted poplars, alders and willow that had invaded the meadows during their many decades of neglect. And to replicate the traditional management, we introduced British white cattle to graze and cut some areas for hay.

Breeding wading birds, such as redshank, lapwing and snipe, were once common across the river valley and one of our highest aspirations was to create conditions that enticed these birds to return. The range in grass heights, varied wet conditions and muddy ditch margins that we have recreated now offer suitable areas for nesting and places to probe for insects when feeding hungry chicks. It may take a little more time to entice these birds to breed, but we are delighted that for the last three springs lapwings have been displaying above the meadows and the number of snipe spending the winter at Winnall has increased. The ‘re-wetted’ areas are attracting a range of different ducks too, such as wigeon, gadwall and mallard, in winter.

Winnall Moors is unique in many ways and the nature reserve offers visitors the chance to leave behind the busy streets and become quickly immersed in a wild setting surrounded by natural sights and sounds.

Throughout the project The Wildlife Trust has also been working to improve Winnall Moors for people too. We’ve made plenty of changes to make it easier to get around the public section of the nature reserve, especially for families with young children and visitors with mobility difficulties. We’ve resurfaced over a mile of footpaths, erected new bridges and a pond dipping platform, and installed new benches.

We’ve encouraged local interest and a sense of ownership of the reserve through an exciting programme of local community events. We’ve worked especially hard to inspire local schoolchildren and families, as today’s young people will be Winnall’s future guardians and the mini-stream and pond are becoming particular favourites - helping people of all ages to ‘re-connect’ with nature.

In conjunction with local primary schools and community groups, we have developed a new story trail and accompanying booklet to offer a creative way for visitors to guide themselves around the reserve. Trust staff have witnessed firsthand the effectiveness of engaging families through the arts – it is an excellent method of building understanding about the reserve and the importance of protecting these unique spaces for wildlife.

The Wildlife Trust has carefully implemented the access improvements to ensure that habitats remain relatively undisturbed. Staff and visitors may still encounter an abundance of wildlife; indeed glimpses of otters have been reported, while water voles sightings have become synonymous with a visit to Winnall Moors - follow the Water Vole Trail for your best chance. Since we have removed scrub and ‘re-wetted’ the reed bed, rare grasshopper warblers have bred, in earshot of the local skate park. In June, some lucky visitors may experience the treat of the mass emergence of scarlet tiger moths, one of Winnall’s annual wildlife spectacles.

It has been five years since we first embarked on our plans to restore Winnall Moors and the whole project has, without doubt, been a huge success for wildlife 
and for people.

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 12:42

Head to the Isle of Wight to enjoy the charming villages of Brighstone and Mottistone, taking in superb views, an ancient monument and enchanting gardens with our new walks writer, Fiona Barltrop

Read more
Yesterday, 12:29

With the centenary of the end of World War One commemorated this year, the reopening of the iconic Royal Victoria Chapel, part of our military heritage, is timely

Read more
Friday, September 21, 2018

10 of best photos of Hampshire shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

This year Winchester’s Theatre Royal celebrates the 40th anniversary of its re-opening as a performance theatre

Read more
Monday, September 17, 2018

Avon Valley, Beer and Cake is the ABC of why Ringwood, a busy market town on the western edge of the New Forest, makes a quirkily clever choice for a break away

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Lego enthusiast Duncan Titmarsh has built his business brick by brick; from tinkering in his garden shed to internationally acclaimed sculptures

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

New Forest ponies are an iconic sight, yet modern-day pressures pose a constant threat to the traditional landscape. Viv Micklefield heads to Lyndhurst to take stock of what happens inside England’s oldest forest court

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

From Austen’s treasures to castles built by Henry VIII, Heritage Open Days (6-9 and 13-16 September 2018) allow you to step behind the doors of some of the county’s most iconic but hidden premises.

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

With the New Forest, South Downs and a picturesque coastline, Hampshire is an amazing place for a walk. We round up a few of our favourites

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Hampshire this month

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

If there’s one thing we love to do here at Hampshire Life, it’s to celebrate local produce! So here are a selection of some of the best farm shops across the county where you’ll find just that

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

With a vibrant local community, this is a shining example of a true Hampshire village

Read more
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Coeliac disease affects 1 in 100 people, and many more are seeing the health benefits after waving goodbye to gluten. Here are just a few of the county’s cafes, pubs and producers who are embracing the gluten free way

Read more
Monday, August 20, 2018

Looking for some peace and tranquility this summer? Lose yourself in one of these wonderful gardens

Read more
 
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Latest Competitions & Offers

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory



Property Search