Boardwalks and Thorpe Meadows
The Boardwalks Local Nature Reserve is a hidden gem in the heart of Peterborough. It lies alongside the north side of the River Nene close to Peterborough’s city centre and has a network of ponds, meadows and woodland. We took over the management of the site in 2015 with the aim of improving the site for people and wildlife.
In February 2016 we ran the #HoppyFamilies crowd funding campaign to raise money for the site. To find out more please click here. We are delighted to say that this campaign was a great success and we reached our target of £3500 to create a nature trail at the site. In addition to those thanked below, we are also very grateful to CALA Homes who donated an additional £2000 towards the campaign.
We were also awarded £10,000 by Tesco’s Bags of Help fund, for visitor infrastructure and habitat improvement works at Boardwalks. Thanks to all those Peterborough folk who voted for us in stores across the city!
During 2016 we installed new interpretation boards, two carved benches, a pond dipping platform, way-markers with arrows and wildlife inspired rubbing plates, six challenge trail cubes and more bat and bird boxes. We were also able to do further habitat work to improve the ponds for amphibians.
Vulnerable and disadvantaged young people in Peterborough from Froglife’s FACT project and Green Pathways scheme helped to design and deliver some of the work. The activities enabled them to learn new skills, gain confidence, and improve their social skills, whilst they made a positive contribution to their community.
There are now three nature trails: around the meadows, through the boardwalk area and alongside the River Nene. Look out for maps and arrows to guide you, and bring along some paper and a pencil so you can collect all ten rubbing plate designs! You can also have a go at the challenges and tell us how you do via our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Thanks to Peterborough poet Keely Mills and local artists Jeni Cairns and Stuart Payn for working with Froglife and Green Pathways participants to create these unique installations.
The site lies on ex industrial land and was created in the mid 1980’s, when most of the ponds were dug and additional trees were planted. It was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1991 and as a County Wildlife Site due to its distinct vegetation mosaic, amphibian populations and a water beetle assemblage of county importance. The site currently contains an interesting habitat mosaic including over 25 ponds of various sizes, varied vegetation structure, wet and tussocky grassland, scrub and wet woodland. The location within a major wildlife corridor adds further to its ecological value and the Boardwalks also forms part of the Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area. Thorpe Meadows is immediately adjacent to the north of the Boardwalks LNR and can be considered as a single site for conservation purposes. It comprises three large grassland areas that have recently started to be improved for biodiversity, including the creation of three large wildlife ponds in 2015 as well as tree planting and replacing the amenity grassland with native pollen-rich wildflowers.
Over the last two decades natural processes and reduced management have significantly reduced the habitat and structural diversity within the site and sustained efforts are required in order to restore and improve the site. Since 2015 Froglife is proud to manage Boardwalks and Thorpe Meadows on behalf of landowners Peterborough City Council and we are working in partnership to secure the funding needed for maximising the biodiversity, educational and community value of this site.
Funding was secured in 2015 to carry out initial restoration works as part of Froglife’s River Nene Dragon Finder project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, SITA Trust and Peterborough City Council. This included the restoration of eight ponds, creation of the three ponds above the flooding level in Thorpe Meadows and a variety of community engagement activities.
As part of our long term monitoring, Froglife has conducted a variety of amphibian and reptile surveys. Initial surveys have found recovering populations of common toad and common frog as well as smooth newts and large numbers of grass snakes. Small numbers of great crested newts have also been discovered and hopefully with Froglife’s future management their populations will greatly expand.