Outdoor education gets the go ahead at one of Derbyshire’s premiere nature reserves

A new outdoor education area is set to be created at Hilton Gravel Pits Nature Reserve in the Trent Valley thanks to a £23,210 project funded by Veolia Environmental Trust through the Landfills Community Fund.

Hilton Gravel Pits is one of Derbyshire’s premiere nature reserves, rich with wildlife it has so much to offer, including scarce black poplar, great crested newts and a lichen heath where three types of orchids flourish in the summer months. The reserve is also well known for its dragonflies and damselflies, fifteen species breed here, one of the highest concentrations in the county.

Emperor Dragonfly, Tony Pioli

Emperor Dragonfly, Tony Pioli

Work will begin on site this autumn to create a new education area for young children to enjoy. The area will include rustic seating, perfect for schools to use for outdoor classrooms, a mini trail so children can learn all about the local wildlife, balance beams and a giant wooden sculpture for children to climb all over and areas left wild where people can sweep net - all set within a wild flower meadow which bursts to life in the summer months – perfect for adventurous little ones to explore!

“It is great to support Derbyshire Wildlife Trust with such an important project"
Veolia Environmental Trust’s executive director, Paul Taylor

The new education area will be complimented by improvements to the boardwalks around the reserve and several new circular walks. George Bird, project manager explains, “We will be using some of the funding to continue to improve access around the nature reserve. Some of the boardwalks have deteriorated badly and are in need of replacement. We also want to ensure the reserve is as easy as possible for people of all mobility and prams to negotiate.”

All the work means that local children will be able to enjoy the reserve and spend quality time within their local wild space. George added, “We want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy Derbyshire’s beautiful nature reserves and what better way to do so than by creating an outdoor education area where the local nurseries and schools can come and use.”

Bug hunting by Kaite Helps

Bug hunting by Kaite Helps

Veolia Environmental Trust’s executive director, Paul Taylor adds, “It is great to support Derbyshire Wildlife Trust with such an important project. The work will not only encourage our children to love nature but will also enhance the site for visitors and create volunteering opportunities for the local community. I look forward to hearing about Hilton Gravel Pit’s wildlife thriving into the future thanks to care and support from the local community."