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Summerseat Nature Reserve

A former water treatment plant that has been transformed into woodland and meadow.

The reserve is on the site of the former Ramsbottom Sewage Treatment Works, demolished in 1987 and lies within a bend of the River Irwell known as Summerseat Island.


The sludge lagoons, which form the western part of the site, have been the location for re-vegetation trials by United Utilities as a method of drying out abandoned sewage sludge lagoons. The area is now woodland with a small but expanding stand of common reed. This is a UK priority habitat, and the site is currently being managed to extend its area. 


The woodland consists of a variety of broadleaved trees including Oak, Willow, and Poplar, as well as the coniferous Scots Pine and European Larch. Management is carried out on this area to thin out the Willow, create glades, maintain open rides for invertebrates and introduce more diverse species such as Alder, Ash and Birch. Conditions are being improved by the planting of a shrub layer, including species such as Holly and Hazel, to increase structural diversity. Following the demolition of surface structures, the rest of the site was seeded with a wildflower mix. However, many of the original seeds did not thrive and further plantings have had to be undertaken. Species that can be seen in this area include Knapweed, Musk Mallow, Ox-eye Daisy, Tansy and Yellow-rattle.


Two ponds have been created on the site. These provide a fascinating habitat for dragonflies and damselflies such as the Broad-bodied Chaser, the Large Red Damsel, the Southern Hawker, the Common Hawker and the Emerald damselfly. Amphibians are also abundant, with both Smooth and Palmate newts present.


Over 30 species of bird have been recorded consistently on the site, with the occasional interesting sightings such as Woodcock and Bullfinch. Mammal records show there to be large populations of Wood mice and Pipistrelle bats, regular sightings of Roe deer, and evidence of foxes, shrews and hedgehogs.

Species and habitats

Wetland, Woodland

Nearby nature reserves

Longworth Clough Nature Reserve
6 miles - The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside
Foxhill Bank Local Nature Reserve
9 miles - The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside
Moston Fairway
10 miles - The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Railway Street, Nr Summerseat Garden Centre
Map reference
SD 793 146
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Opening Times
Open by arrangement.
6.70 hectares

No general access. Contact the Reserve Manager for more information.
Reserve manager
Kim Coverdale
Tel: 07841 996722