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Come and enjoy Batford Springs as its restoration nears completion

PUBLISHED: 10:57 20 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:57 20 July 2018

Batford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOO

Batford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

One of the greenest parts of a very green town, Batford Springs Nature Reserve is alive with wildlife and rare ecological features.

A member of the public enjoying a walk in Batford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOOA member of the public enjoying a walk in Batford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOO

Aside from the play area and picnic tables where visitors can admire the beautiful surroundings, the main attraction of the reserve is the fresh springs which supply the chalk stream, a source of clean water which runs through the reserve and is one of only 200 in the world.

Over the past few years, a lot of work has been done to restore the reserve by Harpenden Town Council, the Batford Springs Volunteers and the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.

Trust conservation manager Tim Hill said: “Batford Springs Local Nature Reserve is very special on account of the fresh springs that serve a small network of chalk lined streams and ponds. The River Lea, with its riverside walks, flows through the site and there is open grassland and a small wooded area.

“This special habitat supports a wealth of wildlife including wetland plant species, wild meadow flowers, invertebrates and a variety of wetland bird species including warblers and even the elusive water rail.

Batford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOOBatford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOO

“Batford Springs Local Nature Reserve is owned and managed by Harpenden Town Council. The majority of the conservation and maintenance work on the site is undertaken by Batford Springs Volunteers with assistance from the council and other contractors.

“I have been advising Harpenden Town Council on the restoration and management of Batford Springs since 2011 and last year the trust, in partnership with Harpenden Town Council, appointed a dedicated people and wildlife Officer, Heidi Mansell, to help Harpenden’s local community get the most of their outstanding green spaces.

“Heidi has written a five-year management plan for the reserve and works with volunteers to deliver the plan. A new building for the volunteers was finished last year and chalk stream restoration is underway.

“Exciting plans including the creation of a visitor boardwalk and new interpretation boards, to help visitors get the most out of their experience, are planned for next year.”

Locals enjoy the cool waters of the weir at Batford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOOLocals enjoy the cool waters of the weir at Batford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOO

To improve the reserve’s accessibility, Harpenden Town Council has put in a planning application to install an approximately 216m-long boardwalk and a 10m bridge over the chalk stream.

The council clerk Carl Cheevers said: “The purpose is to open up another element of the reserve to the public to be used for local people to walk to it and it will add to our educational resources.

“It’s the latest part of the redevelopment that we are investing in.”

Earlier this year, new boreholes were drilled in the springs to get them running again, which they had not done for some time beforehand.

Batford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOOBatford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOO

The boardwalk and bridge will be totally accessible for people in wheelchairs, and the enclosed design of the boardwalk, featuring handrails and side meshing, will keep visitors and dogs on the boardwalk at all times and help conserve the habitat.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy a new pond adjacent to the River Lea, which will attract new species of wildlife to the reserve.

To find out more about the springs, visit www.batfordsprings.org.uk

Batford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOOBatford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOO

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