A visit to... Wheldrake Ings

Debbie has a spare hour to go exploring at Wheldrake Ings nature reserve...

Armed with only the knowledge that Ings meant something to do with water, I had very little expectation from this reserve, which sits alongside the River Derwent in the Lower Derwent Valley.

However, as soon as I saw there was a big wooden bridge to trip-trap across, I knew I’d enjoy my quick visit to this natural haven.

Immediately opposite the wide, and very well-trodden, bridge is a hay meadow which, the information board said, is managed today as it always has been, bursting into a riot of colourful wildflowers such as marsh marigold and cuckooflower in the spring and summer months before providing hay for local farmers. I visited at the end of April and there was only a promise of what was to come, but they were signs that the meadow would soon spring into life.

Meadows at Wheldrake Ings. - Carol Warren.

Meadows at Wheldrake Ings. - Carol Warren.

I had a lovely walk along the loose stone path, with the meandering river to the right and a sweeping expanse of land to the left – the tranquillity broken only by a distant cuckoo. It was quite a walk to the first hide, the first place I could get a proper view of the Ings. But it was so worth it to look out from the top floor of the building across the grassy wetland and see the few swans.

I’m not much of a birder but I love nature, so it was lovely to see the Ings and learn about the wildlife the reserve is home to during the different seasons. This can include whimbrels and brown hares in spring, banded demoiselle in summer, barn owls and willow tits in autumn, and teals and peregrines in winter. Other visitors have previously seen otters and water voles.

Wheldrake Ings Nature Reserve

(c) Lucy Murgatroyd

I can’t wait to see all of these visitors to the Ings, but I’ll have to wait until June now, as that well-trodden bridge is being replaced. But hopefully when it reopens the hay meadow will be in all its colourful glory... and I might even make it to the other hides!