Big Waters Country Park
Water In Wideopen, Tyne And Wear
A Country Park and lake on the outskirts of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Big Waters Country Park is located on the outskirts of Newcastle near Brunswick Village and is one of the largest bodies of open water created by mining subsistence in the region, providing a home to a diverse range of wildlife. The 25 hectare Country Park is managed and looked after by Northumberland Wildlife Trust and volunteer rangers.
The reserve is a lasting memory of the mining heritage in this area, as the pond formed over collapsed mine workings from the 1920s along the Hartley Burn. Most of the reserve is open water, with reedbeds and a skirting rim of wet woodland. The lake level varies significantly after rainfall and as a result many of the paths are on raised boardwalks.
The nature conservation interest of the reserve is enhanced by a variety of closely associated habitats including: fen and carr; a meadow with relic areas of rigg and furrow (archaeological patterns of ridges and troughs created during the Middle Ages through ploughing); and a maturing wood planted in the 1960's. Since 1982 volunteer wardens have helped to manage the reserve, maintaining its high profile as a site for birdwatchers and other visitors.
The reserve has one of the largest colonies of tree sparrows in the area, while great tit, blue tit and chaffinch are also regular users. Many of the more common water birds are visible, including great crested grebe, mute swan, coot, moorhen, heron and tufted duck. Occasionally, unusual visitors such as water rail and bittern can be spotted. The site is also important as a roost for large flocks of swallows on autumn migration, and also supports wintering wildfowl.
To the east of the reserve, the pond is managed by Newcastle City Council as a public recreation area. Great crested newt along with a range of damselflies and dragonflies occur here, including large red and azure damselfly and common hawker. The lake and the quiet reedbeds provide a home to otters, so keep your eyes peeled when you visit!
There are two locked hides (available only to NWT members for £10), a bird feeding station and screens which allow close observation of wildlife. It is worth being aware that there are occasionally cows grazing in the fields. The reserve is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is open year round.
How To Find Big Waters Country Park
Contributed by Andrew Gardner
I love being outdoors, in nature, and experiencing the relaxation it brings. Wandering through the northern countryside seeing unexpected buildings, historic places and occasionally surprised wildlife is one of life's great pleasures.More Places from Andrew
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