Newsletter: Christmas 2017

Wishing You a Happy New Tear

Our staff and volunteers are taking a well deserved break over Christmas, so the Heritage Centre and Granite’s will re-open on New Year’s Day.

News from the Eco Team

The Eco team has been busy as usual with many different jobs around the site. At this time of year, one of the important and necessary tasks is to remove excessive leaf fall from the Trail and Spinney paths in readiness for the annual topping up of woodchip. Wood chipping the paths, although hard work for the Team, is an excellent way of keeping the paths dry and clean underfoot for visitors. Also, importantly, it’s ecologically friendly and enjoyed enormously by the Nunckley wildlife such as the Bank Voles, Wood Mice, Badgers, Foxes and Moles, as evidenced by the numerous scrapes and mounds around the Trail. In early Winter, the warm woodchip under-layer is a welcome and accessible larder for many animals. Likewise in the dry Summer heat, the woodchip helps to retain moisture, meaning – worms! A great food source for many woodland mammals.

Hurdle gate to mini path
Visitors will see our new Hazel hurdle gate at the entrance to the Summer ‘mini-meadow’ situated alongside the patio area. The mini meadow has been closed for the Winter to provide a quiet, undisturbed area for the insects and toads overwintering there. The hurdle was made by an Eco Team member and cut from Nunckley Hazel. A great way of recycling natural materials. In turn, this aids the longevity of the Hazel tree from which it is cut or ‘coppiced.’
Cold Frames
At the end of the Summer and into Autumn, the Eco volunteers were busy collecting wildflower seeds for sowing next Spring. Another of our volunteers built a cold frame from recycled materials. This will enable us to sow seeds earlier in Spring. Plug sized plants can then be planted out along the quarry banks, meadows and woodlands later on. Meanwhile, removal of the over-enthusiastic Couch grass in the Big Meadow will continue to help wildflowers thrive there in future years.

Visitors to the Nature Trail will have seen the Solitary Bee ‘homes’ which have been erected on the dry stone wall located near the Willow Dome. There is also a new information board explaining just how important Solitary bees are as they are excellent pollinators. The siting of such homes is important. This particular location is South facing and is warm and sheltered – an ideal site for solitary bees.

As the RSPB says – “Giving Nature a Home” is so important. Why not have a go at making your own Solitary bee or bug home? Try visiting the for lots of ideas.

We are looking forward to working on a new woodland trail adjoining the Spinney early in 2018. Watch this space for updates!

Goodbye soil bank

Over the past two weeks we have hired a digger and a couple of dump trucks. Our volunteers have worked tirelessly to redistribute the 4000 tons of soil from the bank to form a level area for our expansion plans.

Bank Removal before and after

Hello Discovery Centre

You are the first to hear about our new Discovery Project!

Opening the heritage centre site has brought so much benefit and enjoyment to so many people, but there is much more potential to be unlocked. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a much larger heritage display space, a local history library and study centre? To be able to host school visits, to allow our younger generation to be able to learn about their local history, ecology and the very special geological history of the Charnwood Forest?

Over the past 18 months we have been developing plans for a new building on the site which will satisfy all these desires and more as well. Working with Leicester and Loughborough Universities, local schools, the County Council, and other stake holders, we have created our Discovery Project. The new building will provide three times more display space than we have at present, a lecture theatre will allow a classroom for school visits, university lectures, exhibitions and corporate use. There will also be a local history library which will house historical collections related to the local area, which will be available for research, and a study centre.

Cutting edge technology will be utilized to present information as effectively as possible and to capture the imagination of general visitors and school children, ensuring that what they see and learn leaves a lasting impression.

The building is designed externally with an appearance to inspire learning and to fit seamlessly into its surroundings.

The project will cost £850,000 and we will be submitting a funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in February. A planning application will be submitted in April. If funding and planning are successful we would hope to have the building completed and open to the public by summer 2020.

Plans of the new building will be on display in Granite’s for three weeks from January 20th. Your feedback, and suggestions are very important to us. So please email with your comments, or come along to view the plans for yourself.