Why you should visit Hatchmere nature reserve
- Credit: CWT
Cheshire Wildlife Trust Development Officer Heather Hulse invites visitors to explore the wild side of Hatchmere nature reserve, a hidden jewel in Delamere’s crown
Hatchmere’s shores have been frequented by people for many generations. Nestled at the edge of the B5152 Delamere Road, in Norley, the mere is one of the larger water bodies in the Delamere landscape and is owned and managed by Cheshire Wildlife Trust. Since the nineties the Trust has endeavoured to protect and encourage the growth of Hatchmere’s mosaic of wild habitats.
At the end of the last Ice Age, around 21,000 years ago, Hatchmere and hundreds of other meres and mosslands in Delamere were formed when the glacier that covered most of Britain retreated, leaving massive chunks of ice that melted and left deep indentations in the ground.
In this warmer climate aquatic plants grew and died in these pools which were fed by groundwater and rainwater, producing acidic conditions that slowed the decay of plants and in so doing formed peat. From these peat layers, which took thousands of years to develop, different types of plants and trees were able to colonise the edges of Hatchmere and have produced several important habitats that, with careful management, the Trust has been allowed to regenerate naturally.
And while business and nature may not always go hand in hand, corporate sponsorship has helped more people to enjoy hidden Hatchmere. On a cold and wet February morning in 2015, staff at Cheshire Wildlife Trust met with local goats’ milk producers Delamere Dairy to plan a new trail within Hatchmere nature reserve.
Owners Roger and Liz Sutton began producing goats’ milk with just three goats at their home in Delamere Forest in 1985. The company, which in now based in Knutsford and produces goats’ milk products for the whole of the UK and abroad, was marking its 30th anniversary year and as part of its celebrations was looking to support a great outdoor project at Delamere in recognition of their humble beginnings.
Thanks to Delamere Dairy supporting the project, getting stuck in on a corporate volunteer days, and offering design expertise from in-house graphic designer Mike Rathbone, Hatchmere now sports two information panels explaining all about the mere’s fascinating habitats and a map of the trail, as well as a new notice board.
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Ed Salt, Managing Director at Delamere Dairy, said: ‘Staff at Delamere Dairy have taken part in corporate volunteering days to help to restore paths and mend fences to create a two kilometre circular walk that can be enjoyed by ramblers, dog walkers and families alike. It’s fair to say it was pretty strenuous work, but very rewarding.’
Waymarker posts guide visitors along the trail which passes a gentle stream near to rare wet lowland heath, wet woodland, reed beds and dry deciduous woodland with glades producing dappled sunlight. All of these fabulous habitats can be experienced by anyone walking along the trail and they can read and learn all about this Site of Special Scientific Interest.
You can make a difference
Cheshire Wildlife Trust has a wish list of conservation projects to help people enjoy wildlife in Cheshire but in order to carry out this work the Trust needs support from a variety of sources. If you or your business would like to donate to wildlife or support a project in Cheshire contact Heather Hulse or Jo Darlington on 01948 820728 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A year at Hatchmere
You can now walk all the way around Hatchmere at any time of year and every change in the season provides another fascinating plant or animal to look out for.
As early as March you may see the brown speckled wood butterfly which prefers the shady edges of woodland rides and glades. From the path you may be able to spot a large shrubby clump of bog myrtle on the wet heathland. Grown in abundance at Hatchmere, this aromatic plant is a Cheshire rarity and is only found in five other small sites in Cheshire. In late spring you can enjoy the golden yellows of marsh marigold (a member of the buttercup family) lighting up the wet woodland. Buzzard’s cries can be heard as they circle overhead and you may hear and see great spotted woodpeckers preparing to nest in holes in tree trunks.
As the marsh marigolds fade they are soon replaced by yellow flag iris, a beautiful native iris that prefers boggy conditions and flowers from July. The brimstone butterfly dances awkwardly across the heathland and common lizards may be seen at the edge of the heathland basking in the warm sunshine. Black darter dragonflies are commonly seen across the heathland and in the reed bed you may hear the ‘churring’ of the reed warbler – a small bird that is a summer visitor to Britain – which makes a nest rather like a sling between three reed stems.