Photos © Steve Davis
The Lorton Valley nature park in Weymouth has been officially opened by Lord Seb Coe, close to the year anniversary of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The nature park aims to connect green space owned and managed by a partnership of conservation organisations including Dorset Wildlife Trust and local councils which form part of the ‘Natural Weymouth & Portland Partnership.’
The 187 hectare nature park is designed to benefit wildlife and people in the surrounding urban area, and promote public access between sites owned by Dorset Wildlife Trust, RSPB, The Woodland Trust, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and Dorset County Council.
The Lorton Valley nature park is also the starting point for the Legacy trail, which has been developed through Wild About Weymouth and Portland, a partnership project funded by the Big Lottery Fund through Natural England’s Access to nature programme.
Lord Seb Coe said: “Projects like these encourage people to be curious about the landscape you live in, and how it can be used. Lorton Valley Nature Park can inspire people to be imaginative about what you can do to utilise your open spaces by understanding the nature and the history of your area.”
Sam Dallimore, DWT Conservation Officer at Lorton Meadows Conservation Centre, said: “It is not often we join together with so many partners to create such a large green space within an urban area. This is an amazing and rare opportunity, and we want to encourage people in the surrounding areas to use and value the site now and for generations to come.”
Walk and enjoy
Carl Dallison, Head of Open Spaces for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council said: “We are really excited about this great project and are pleased that after a lot of hard work from all the partners it has come to fruition. It is a great opportunity for users of the existing Lodmoor Country Park to move out into the wider nature park and learn more about what this great area has to offer and the wildlife within it or indeed, just to walk and enjoy the varied scenery from rustling reed beds full of bird song to lofty ancient woodland”
The legacy trail is 20 miles long, starting at Lorton Meadows, near Littlemoor in Weymouth, and ending at Portland Bill. There are also separate shorter circular walks, so you can explore more wild places in Weymouth & Portland. With lots of interesting wildlife to see on the way, from oystercatchers wading at Lodmoor, to flittering silver-studded blue butterflies in Portland Quarries, this trail encompasses the very best landscapes and wildlife Weymouth and Portland has to offer.
Lyn Cooch from the Rangers team for Wild About Weymouth and Portland, said: "The Lorton Valley Nature Park, with its mosaic of hedges, pastures, woodlands and wetlands is an important part of the Wild About Weymouth and Portland Legacy Trail which links the wonderful variety of wildlife sites we are blessed with in Weymouth and Portland. At the first section it has fantastic views across to Weymouth Bay and across to Portland. An exciting new dry stone walling installation with seating and interpretation will be created at the viewpoint in the autumn to celebrate the site. This a one of a number of installations being created along the trail during the next few months, with the first one just completed at Chesil”
The nature park is a haven for wildlife and nature, and consists of nationally important habitats, including designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), reed-beds, shallow open water and bushes of Lodmoor Nature reserve, which is managed by the RSPB and is home to one of the largest colonies of terns in the South West.
An exciting new partnership
Tom Clarke, Wild about Weymouth and Portland Project Officer from the RSPB said: "Lorton Valley Nature Park is an exciting new partnership that, like the rest of Weymouth and Portland, is an excellent place to experience nature. The RSPB is proud to work with other partners to ensure the Park, as well as Radipole Lake, Chesil Centre and Portland Quarries Nature Park, continues to develop and improve open spaces for local people, visitors and wildlife in this wonderful part of Dorset."
Another designated SSSI in the area, is the 2 mile coppice, owned by the Woodland Trust. This is an area of ancient woodland with stunning woods and mature oak and ash trees, which are ideal for woodpeckers and roosting bats.
Students from All Saints School are already taking part in practical conservation tasks in the area, and have spent three days learning about conservation and nature with conservation experts from Dorset Wildlife Trust.
Jasmine Darby, 11, from All Saints School said: “We are learning about how to take care of habitats for animals and we have been cutting down brambles and stinging nettles. We’ve enjoyed being outside in the sunshine and learning about how to take care of nature.”
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 816546.
Dorset Wildlife Trust is part of the Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership; connecting people with nature
Wild About Weymouth and Portland is a partnership project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund through Natural England’s Access to Nature programme, involving Dorset Wildlife Trust, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Dorset Countryside (DCC) and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. The project aims to improve access in and between important wildlife sites in the borough and encourage local people and visitors to discover, enjoy and help conserve the wonderful natural environment of Weymouth and Portland.
Additional funding has been provided by Portland Gas Trust and the AONB.
Access to Nature is run by Natural England and is part of the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme launched in November 2005 to help communities enjoy and improve their local environments.
Natural England manages this £28.75 million Lottery-funded programme on behalf of a consortium of twelve national environmental organisations comprising BTCV, British Waterways, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Greenspace, Groundwork UK, Land Restoration Trust, The National Trust, Natural England, RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts and the Woodland Trust.
Through this programme, it is Natural England’s ambition to create opportunities for people from all backgrounds to have greater access to our natural environment and bring a lasting change to their awareness and understanding as well as improved links to the natural world, which many of us can take for granted.
Access to Nature closed to applications in May 2010 but for further information about the programme visit www.naturalengland.org.uk/accesstonature
The Big Lottery Fund is the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004. For further information about the Big Lottery Fund, its programmes and awards visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
Wild About Weymouth & Portland is a partnership between Dorset Wildlife Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Dorset Countryside and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council. The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund through Natural England’s Access to Nature programme, to encourage people to discover, enjoy and help conserve the borough’s wonderful natural environment.
Dorset Wildlife Trust is part of the Natural Weymouth and Portland Partnership; connecting people with nature.