GREAT AYCLIFFE TOWN COUNCIL’S NATURE AREAS
The town has an abundance of natural green space and Great Aycliffe Town Council carefully manage many of these areas to maintain and enhance the various habitats for the maximum enjoyment of local residents.
The authority carefully attempts to balance the needs of local residents with that of the local wildlife.
The towns green spaces are maintained with the assistance of the authorities’ staff and various community groups. The Town Council’s “Town Pride Team” assists the Environment Officer on a daily basis on routine tasks.
In addition, the Environment Officer works with a group of local volunteers twice weekly on a variety of tasks such as fencing, tree planting, path surfacing, drainage, litter collection and summer scrub management. Various other external organisations regularly assist in the maintenance of these sites.
The natural sites which are managed by Great Aycliffe Town Council in the town include:
For further information about these sites please contact the Environment Officer on 01325 300700 or e-mail Steven.Cooper@great-aycliffe.gov.uk
AYCLIFFE NATURE PARK
Aycliffe Nature Park is located to the south east of Newton Aycliffe residential area and is managed by Great Aycliffe Town Council with the assistance of the Aycliffe Nature Park Association.
The Nature Park is located in the north east corner of what was once an immense 867 acre Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF 59). It employed 17,000 people, mainly women to fill bullets and bombs with explosives during the Second World War. By its closure in 1945 it had produced 700 million bullets!
Today the Nature Park supports an exceptional range of habitats, with a number of interesting species and is dominated by a large pond which is home to many species including a healthy population of Great Crested Newts and common frogs and toads.
This attractive wooded river valley runs through the heart of the town and forms an important wildlife habitat for many species such as kingfisher, great spotted woodpecker, tawny owl, water and bank vole. The entire stretch is accessible via a tarmac path and has seats throughout the length.
SCHOOL AYCLIFFE WETLANDS
This substantial site descends to the north where Redhouse Beck defines the boundary and comprises mature wetlands, woodlands and a beck. The site is of particular interest over the summer with numerous species of dragonflies and damselflies present.
SIMPASTURE NATURE WALK
The nature walk was once a railway which was built in 1833 with the aim of transporting coal from the south west Durham coal fields to the docks around Hartlepool. The route was one of the first in the world be electrified in 1915 but reverted back to steam later. The line was a key transport link serving the Royal Ordnance Factory in Aycliffe during the Second World War. The line gradually declined and was closed in 1963.
Today the site is a pleasant traffic free mile long linear walk which is dominated by mature woodland.
COBBLERS HALL PLANTATION
This secret gem is mixed mature woodland located on Greenfield Way just north of the Middridge road. The circular path passes through the woodland showing the sites differing character starting from Scots pine plantation, and maturing through to beech.
SOUTH AGNEW PLANTATION
The Agnew Plantations are now separated by Woodham Way but was managed into the 1920’s for timber production and as a hunting area by the local Eden Estate. Today only the southern part of the plantation has public access with a surfaced footpath through the entire woodland.
For several years Great Aycliffe Town Council have been managing areas around the town as wild flower meadows, the most notable location being near the train station. The sculpture on the grassland depicts a common blue butterfly resting on an orchid; both of which are a regular sight during the summer.
Meadows are managed by allowing the natural plants to flower and disperse their seeds before cutting and removing the vegetation in later summer, by doing this the seed bank will improve over several seasons producing a richer show of flowers year on year.
Recently several new meadows have been created around the town including in both the Town and Woodham Park. At the moment, these areas appear to be little more than rough grassland, but given a few years these meadows will flourish into colourful grassland like elsewhere in the town given the correct management.
Other particularly species rich areas can be found through Woodham Burn and in West Park. Many people walk by these meadows and may notice the impressive display of natural colour but on closer inspection these areas are often made up of a diverse range of plant species.
A Nature Reserve Leaflet is available by contacting Great Aycliffe Town Council on 01325 300700.