New horizons at Nene Wetlands

Friday 30th June 2017

Rushden Lakes Visitor Centre by Caroline FittonRushden Lakes Visitor Centre by Caroline Fitton

The Trust's first ever visitor centre opens at Rushden Lakes on Saturday 29 July, heralding the gateway to Nene Wetlands

The Nene Wetlands is a major new 270-hectare nature reserve, fully unveiled at the end of July - an amalgam of existing wildlife areas (see below) now linked together with newly created paths and cycle tracks around lakes and through meadow and woodland. The low-lying wooden, grass-roofed building (above) on the edge of Skew Bridge Lake is hugely symbolic for the Wildlife Trust BCN - a first visitor centre for the Trust's three counties and a wonderful opportunity to engage with an entirely new audience coming to experience the exciting all new retail park at Rushden Lakes . Visitors will experience an adventure at a place where wildlife, industrial history and modern retail culture come face-to-face. The Trust's visitor centre officially opens Saturday 29 July (access road opens last week of July; some retail outlets open 29 July, some later in summer).

Outdoor play specialists Flights of Fantasy have created 14 beautiful wildlife sculptures in a trail along the edge of Skew Bridge Lake - designer Russell Bowlby's creations also include interactive installations in a Wildlife Discovery Area - an abandoned barge and an otter holt. Carefully positioned trail cameras around the lake will deliver footage to screens in the visitor centre (e.g. images from the heronry on Delta Lake - not publically accessible), and with the boathouse of Canoe2 just next door, access to the lakes - with portage on to the river Nene - couldn't be easier.

For regular updates about the new Nene Wetlands Visitor Centre, please like our Nene Wetlands Visitor Centre Facebook Page.

Watch BBC Countryfile footage (broadcast on Sunday 9 July).

Above: Rachel Steward, Countryfile presenter Anita Rani and Russell Bowlby at the barge installation

Below: Trust staff and volunteers; Anita Rani and Northants Reserves Manager Jane Pearman take to the lake


Nene Wetlands

Four Wildlife Trust nature reserves - Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows, Ditchford Lakes and Meadows, Higham Ferrers Pits and Wilson's Pits will link up with Skew Bridge Lake, Delta Pit and Higham Lake - flooded gravel pits, wet meadow, wet woodland and reedbed at the heart of the Wildlife Trust's Nene Valley Living Landscape.
This will enable the Trust to protect, restore, and manage new and existing habitats for wildlife and provide new access routes, and interpretation will complement the outstanding natural value of the site as an internationally important destination for breeding and overwintering birds.

The Trust received a grant of £662,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Oliver Burke, Director of Living Landscapes for the Trust, says: “We are really looking forward to opening our first Visitor Centre. The National Lottery funding for Into the Valley has allowed us to extend our work beyond this centre to create a stunning sculpture trail leading out into the Nene Wetlands as well as offering events and activities in the shopping area. It will also fund vital conservation work including protecting a sensitive heronry from disturbance, restoring ditches and managing scrub and grassland.”