Funding win set to release the wonder of Wheldrake Ings

Wheldrake Ings. Credit - Lana Huntley

Wheldrake Ings, an iconic part of the Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve (NNR) is set to be transformed by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust thanks to a £42,050 grant from funding body WREN.

The money, awarded by WREN’s FCC Community Action Fund, will be used to rejuvenate and modernise the facilities of the beautiful nature reserve. In doing so the reserve will be more accessible, enabling a greater number of people to experience its wonderful wildlife spectacle.

Lying to the southeast of York, Wheldrake Ings changes dramatically through the seasons. A tapestry of colourful wildflowers in the summer contrasts with a winter scene of thousands of ducks, geese and wading birds filling the floods and skies.

The funding enables Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to upgrade the current riverside trail to enable easier access for many more visitors and the inclusion of new and interactive displays will aim to draw a younger audience, helping them learn about the wildlife and cultural heritage of the site.

The improved track will lead visitors to a self-guided wildlife centre featuring renewed wildlife information boards and affording sweeping views across the internationally important floodplain meadows.

As visitors continue their journey through the reserve they will arrive at the Pool Hide where they will learn about the scientific studies that are carried out in the woodland. The final stopping off point will be a refurbished hide with an access ramp and room enough for visitors with accessibility issues. Volunteers will work alongside staff at the local wildlife charity to harvest reed to cover the roof of the hide to help the structure blend into the wild landscape.

The project is additionally supported by the Friends of Lower Derwent Valley and York Ornithological Club.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Living Landscapes Manager Brian Lavelle explains how the project will help realise Wheldrake Ings’ full potential. He says:

“The work will make an exciting difference to the site for both regular and new visitors, improving their comfort and knowledge. The funding enables us to make the reserve more accessible, especially in winter when the wildlife is at its most spectacular; and the upgrade to Tower Hide will help people learn about the ancient history, rare species and important flood management role of the site. In its current state the hide is very old, dark, dank and unwelcoming. We can now modernise it to make a bright and welcoming facility, one fit for a National Nature Reserve.”

WREN is a not-for-profit business that awards grants for community, biodiversity and heritage projects from funds donated by FCC Environment through the Landfill Communities Fund.

Penny Horne, WREN’s grant manager for Yorkshire, says: “We’re delighted to be supporting the York - Access improvements of the Wheldrake Ings project and are pleased our funding will help attract more visitors to this beautiful Nature Reserve in the heart of the Derwent Valley. WREN is always happy to consider grant applications for projects that make a difference to local communities and we’re really looking forward to seeing this one take shape soon.”

Brian adds: “Our aim is to inspire visitors and engage them with the wildlife and environment by enriching this special area and helping to enhance a National Nature Reserve that the City of York can be proud of.”

Work on the improvements will begin in spring 2018, with the revamped Tower Hide expected to be opened to visitors at the end of the summer.

Meadows at Wheldrake Ings. - Carol Warren.

Meadows at Wheldrake Ings. - Carol Warren.