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Published March 14th 2016
Who'd Have Thought A Former Clay Pit Could Look So Good
From humble beginnings can often come great things. And that clearly proves to be the case with the delightful Hodge Lane Local Nature Reserve in Tamworth which began life as a former clay pit and brickworks.
A convenient map of the nature reserve awaits visitors by the main road
The land in question was used as a clay pit and brickworks for some 80 years during the 19th century before the site fell into disuse, presumably once all the raw materials had been removed. But then, in the 1970s, Tamworth Borough Council decided to acquire land within the disused Amington Colliery area to provide a golf course.
The overgrown clay pit and brickworks at Hodge Lane measured around 1.4 hectares of the site, and this became the first section of what was to become the nature reserve. A field next to Coventry Canal was then added and the landfill raised the level of the area to create what was to become the wildflower meadow and the dell.
These areas were then adopted by Tamworth Borough Council to make up Hodge Lane Local Nature Reserve, which measures a total of around 4.5 hectares. But, despite being compact in size, Hodge Lane Nature Reserve is a popular destination for people wishing to enjoy short walks, view the abundant wildlife, or even indulge in a bit of photography, which I decided to do myself on my Spring visit in mid-March.
A pleasant park area greets visitors before you get to the reserve
The site is accessed via the main Mercian Way in Amington, and there is a pleasant grassed park area before you even get to the actual nature reserve. Once on the nature reserve itself you find yourself within relatively young oak woodland, interspersed with blackthorn, hawthorn, holly, ash and silver birch trees.
Visitors can easily locate a central pool which is the result of clay being removed and then filled in with water. The pool is now regarded as a spawning ground for frogs and toads, but wading birds such as moorhens are also attracted to the watering hole.
Another attraction for visitors is the Pipistrelle and Daubenton's bats which are said to be a common sight, particularly if you are able to spot their roost entrances high up in the trees. Or you can come back on a warm summer's evening when you may get to see them catching insects over the pond.
Although owned by Tamworth Borough Council, the nature reserve is maintained by members of Hodge Lane Conservation Group who meet up once a month, on the final Sunday of the month. To get involved either contact them directly or visit Staffordshire Wildlife Trust or call 01889 880100.