New era heralded at Mere Sands Wood

It was the end of an era at Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve last week, when the oldest part of the iconic Visitor Centre was demolished.

And it’s 'in with the new' in December when a new Visitor Centre, including a café, will be delivered to our Mere Sands Wood nature reserve in Rufford.

However, tears were shed when the old building was taken down by contractors as it has served the reserve for nearly half a century!

Reserve Officer Ian Wright said: “There are mixed feelings here this week. The old building could tell so many stories about the people and wildlife that have made this place so special.

“But time has caught up with it and facilities fit for the 21st century for visitors, volunteers and staff are taking shape that are better than anything that’s gone before.

“We’re looking forward with anticipation whilst cherishing fond memories of the old building”. 

There are mixed feelings here this week. The old building could tell so many stories about the people and wildlife that have made this place so special.

Tens of thousands of people visit the reserve annually, as their own hidden gem. There are gentle walks through the trees and around the lakes which were formerly part of Martin Mere: once England's biggest freshwater lake which covered most of the area until the 1700s.

The oldest part of the Visitor Centre at Mere Sands Wood is demolished to make way for new facilities

The oldest part of the Visitor Centre is demolished. Photo by by Ian Wright.

In recent weeks, hundreds of cormorants have started popping in each night to spend balmy evenings around Mere Sands Woods' lakes. Bitterns and water rails are welcome visitors and kingfishers have made their home here. There are even red squirrels in the pine woodland.

There has been a bold vision for Mere Sands Wood for some years now and, finally, in December a new building will arrive on the site on the back of a couple of lorries.

Based on the excellent model that is now the fully clad Field Studies Centre, there will be room for visitors, officers and volunteers. There will be an education area and, best of all, a café. Already, part of the old Visitor Centre has been transformed into offices and new storage.

Ian said: “We are open to visitors. Although there is some disruption at the moment, around the old Visitor Centre, the rest of reserve and hides are open. There are some facilities in the Field Studies Centre.”

Mere Sands Wood is on Holmeswood Road in Rufford and you can find out more about it here. The new Visitor Centre should be open early in the New Year.

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