Oakenshaw Wildlife Reserve
Local Planning Authority: Durham County Council
Location: Stockley Lane, Oakenshaw near Willington, County Durham
Size: 38.3 hectares
Site Status: The Hundred Acre surface mine operated between 1991 and 1993 where Banks Mining extracted around 110,000 tonnes of coal from the Top and Bottom Hutton seams along with fireclay for brick manufacture. The surface mine covered 24 Hectares within the 38 Hectare plantation and site was restored to create three ponds one with an island along with a network of footpaths, wildlife habitats and seats and landscaped by planting a mix of over 41,000 trees including Scots Pine, Sitka Spruce, Larch, Sessile Oak, Common Alder, White Birch, Rowan Holly, Hawthorn and Hazel.
It is now a wonderful tranquil place to walk well-behaved dogs, enjoy the countryside or feed the ducks.
SPECIAL NOTICE FOR VISITORS
The reserve consists of the area around the three ponds in the middle of the site and is surrounded by commercial forestry that was badly affected by Storm Arwen. The site has recently been subject to significant essential forestry management and drainage work, removing damaged and fallen trees, thinning out the woodland, mulching some of the stumps and chipping of the brash. We have also carried out repairs to the pontoons on the ponds and board walks on the tracks giving access to the wider forestry area.
Thinning out some of the younger trees allows more light to the ground encouraging more flora and fauna and this also increases air flow through the woodland which encourages tree growth whilst reducing the chances of diseases coming into the woodland. At the same time, we have removed any windblown trees that were not cleared up last year. Ditches have been reinstated throughout where they have grown over and filled in over the years. This work encourages water flow in to the ponds, and stops it stagnating in the woodland and path areas, aiding in public access and tree survival rate.
Unfortunately, conducting this work during the very wet weather that we have experienced in the region means that further remedial work is required to some of the paths and tracks and ditches in the commercial forestry area. We will also be carrying out replanting to the area of woodland closest to Oakenshaw with a mix of deciduous trees later this year.
We very much hope that once this work has been completed it will be quite some time until any further such extensive forestry management work is required at Oakenshaw and that the entire woodland and the nature reserve can return to a place of tranquillity.
Postcode of nearby property: DL15 0TR