Letcombe Valley nature reserve celebrates its 10th anniversary!

M Bailey

Over the past 10 years volunteers at Letcombe Valley nature reserve have worked hard to create a haven for wildlife and people at the heart of their community

2020 marks ten years since BBOWT took on the lease for Letcombe Valley nature reserve near Wantage in south Oxfordshire. Letcombe Valley is located in the heart of the thriving communities of Letcombe Regis and Letcombe Bassett, and right from the start the community took the lead on restoring the reserve. 

The site was officially opened in March 2010 followed by the first volunteer work party in July 2010 where the group began to create a loop path including several difficult stepped sections, bridges and resurfacing the woodland path.

This work was all completed over two years by skilled local volunteers. The looped path is now a favourite walking spot for locals, and provides easy access to nature for the residents of The Richmond Retirement Village, located next to the reserve.

Letcombe Valley

M Bailey

In 2011, volunteers completed another section of steps, and designed and built two more bridges to allow people to access the side of the Letcombe Brook, which is a beautiful chalk stream that runs through the middle of the reserve. 

In 2012, the group introduced “Wildlife to lookout for on the reserve” posters so people could look out for seasonal highlights. These posters have inspired many people to take a closer look at the wildlife on the reserve. The group also launched the highly successful “Letcombe Discovery Day.”

This is an open day where local people are encouraged to come and enjoy the reserve and learn about what lives there, and to get hands on experience with bats, birds and amphibians (to name a few). The Letcombe Discovery Day takes place each year in July (except for 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions) and is a big highlight in the local events calendar. 

Event

Letcombe Discovery Day by Jim Ballantyne

In 2016, the group worked closely with the Environment Agency and the Letcombe Brook Project to install a series of flow deflectors in the Letcombe Brook to increase the flow and create better habitat for water life in the special stream. The group caught the bug and after some training has continued to improve the brook.

In 2018, the group worked with BBOWT to dig and install a new wildlife pond so that people could get up close to water life. The pond is now looking fantastically full of plants and invertebrates. The group also took on the task of creating a new woodland area where they have planted over 100 trees and also installed a new fence line.  

Since 2010, The Friends of Letcombe Valley have held over 100 work parties, with an average of 18 people attending each session. These work parties are very special and have a real community vibe to them with people of all ages attending. The team works hard and then enjoys wonderful homemade cake and hot drinks together. 

kingfisher

Kingfisher by Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Over 200 people have attended at least one volunteer session at Letcombe Valley, which have been running for over a decade. The group has seen many people come and go, but the core group has always been open and friendly to new volunteers and has harnessed community spirit to make a success of this wonderful community nature reserve.

BBOWT would like to say a huge thank you to all of the Friends of Letcombe Valley. You have achieved so much over the last ten years – we are looking forward to the next ten years.