I feel this is ‘my’ Nature reserve, having spent my childhood living in Hodge Lane, Amington, near Tamworth on the Staffordshire/Warwickshire border.
The site was previously a clay pit and brickyard. Several generations of my family worked there, doing sufficiently well to build houses for themselves, and others in the village, and buy land. The 1901 census shows three generations connected with the brickyard, but a map of 1903 shows it as disused. I was bought up with tales as to how the bricks were made, and the disused area was a playground for my brothers and myself. These were the days when children roved free, and came home with scratched knees and grubby clothes. The old clay pit was a fascinating landscape of depressions where water had formed ponds, hillocks and a small cliff face to climb, littered with old bricks and overgrown with brambles.
In the 1970s, Tamworth Borough Council took over the land and started to establish it as a Nature Reserve. Later an adjacent field was added, which was planted with new trees. An open area next to it, which was part of a new housing development was made into a wild flower meadow. A conservation group took over its development and upkeep.
I recently went on a talk about the reserve, and found myself volunteering to monitor the bird life on the reserve, to see how a nearby large housing development affects it.
I visit on a particularly dull, cold afternoon, and walk down Hodge lane, which is quite wide and smoothly surfaced. There are access points onto the reserve, which is mainly woodland. The contours I remembered have been exaggerated, so some pathways are very steep. The pond is much larger than I remembered, it must have been excavated. There are a good variety of deciduous trees, including a hawthorn area, some mature trees and some old decaying branches, left for insect habitation. There are not many birds around, but a great spotted woodpecker is drumming, coal tits flitter around and a tree creeper busily creeps up a tree trunk looking for insects. The only bird singing is a robin, I think the rest are waiting for the warmth of Spring.
The meadow shows signs of early spring, with cowslips peeping through the grass, a cluster of primroses beneath birch trees and banks of blossom on wild damson bushes.
My husband is with me, but has difficulty walking on uneven, steep surfaces due to a stoke some years ago. He thinks it is a difficult site to appreciate, some easy walking along the lane and across the meadow, but the woodland is not really accessible.
This reserve is of interest to people in the area, but not widely known. I think there must be lots of similar places across the country, it would be worth some research to find one in your area.