The Parks Trust has transformed 48 hectares of the Great Ouse Valley at Manor Farm near Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes into the Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve.
The project involved the removal of sand and gravel deposits from beneath fields of agriculturally-improved pasture, restoring the land into a mosaic of new water channels, pools, marshy areas and islands within the river floodplain which resemble a pre-historic natural landscape.
The Parks Trust undertook the project with Hanson UK, who helped design the restoration scheme and undertook the quarrying operations.
The project was many years in the planning and is part of the Parks Trust’s long term vision to increase biodiversity in Milton Keynes and make wildlife-rich landscapes accessible to people. Work by Hanson to extract the gravel from the site began in 2007 and completed their work in 2015.
The remodelled landscape and developing widlife habitats are now managed by The Parks Trust. Easy-access routes, bird-watching hides and information boards have been provided to enable and encourage the local community and visitors from further afield to come and enjoy the wildlife and tranquillity the nature reserve has to offer.
As the site lies in the river floodplain it will flood regularly when water levels in the river Great Ouse rise. Whilst this may restrict the times the site is accessible, this is all as intended because it enables the natural functioning of the floodplain. The removal of the sand and gravel deposits has increased the capacity of the floodplain, so the project has had a beneficial effect on floodwater management.
The income The Parks Trust received from the sale of the minerals from the site has been used only for the purposes of creating the Floodplain Forest habitats, the provision of public access facilities and the site's future care and maintenance.
Planning your visit
The Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve is part of the Ouse Valley Park on the north western edge of Milton Keynes. The main car parks are located off Haversham Road and at Manor Farm Court (MK12 5NN) off Old Wolverton Road.
Surfaced footpaths lead you from the car parks to the accessible circular route and bird hides, where you can discover more about the history of the nature reserve and its wildlife. Please keep to the paths and please keep dogs on leads and under close control to avoid disturbing the wildlife.
The reserve is situated in the River Great Ouse floodplain and is expected to flood, so may not be fully accessible at all times - before your visit check the current water level.
The river level is above average but all parts of the Floodplain Nature Reserve should be accessible today. There may be water running through the spillways to the east of the site.
For a project overview please click here.
What to look out for
- Little egrets and grey herons fishing throughout the year
- Breeding wader birds in the spring and early summer
- Colourful damselflies and dragonflies on sunny summer days
- Basking and swimming grass snakes from the spring through to the autumn
- Wintering ducks from late summer through to spring
- Bats at dusk on warm summer evenings
- Hunting barn owls and little owls
- Secretive otters, if you're very lucky, all your round!