Thacka Beck Nature Reserve, Near Penrith, Penrith, CA11 9BQ – Visit Now
Thacka Beck Nature Reserve is within easy walking distance of Penrith town centre, offering a quick retreat for local residents. It was initially built to deal with flooding problems in the nearby area, and provide protection via a flood basin which would help raise the water table and create areas of wet grassland on either side of the re-routed beck. So far, so good, and the site now is used for both practical and leisurely purposes alike. What’s more, the once overgrown fields on site, full of nettles, thistles and grasses, are now regimented and governed by an annual hay cut, as well as regular hay cuts, weed control and limited seeding. The result has been impressive. Flocks of diverse wildlife have flooded to the habitat, increasing the number of species co-habitating in the well-kept plot.
For the latter, it’s no wonder. The wildlife here is abundant, given the rich and suitable environment, and walkers can delight in spotting the animation and life that springs up here constantly. Hay meadows, wet grassland, scrub and ponds are just some of the large features which keep the wildlife so intact and operative, bringing a plush range of activity to maturing natural havens. Other highlights to look out for, depending on the time of year you visit, include blackthorn, marsh marigolds, migrant birds, house martins and swallows and, in the autumn, redwing and goldfinch.
As for the walking route itself, there’s a circuit around the reserve which sticks to level ground and tallies up a good half mile. Views are wide and revealing, but it’s best to keep an eye on what’s happening up close, too. Butterflies swarm, easily visible in the vast open space, while passerines, otherwise known as small perching birds, take a stance in the mature hedgerow. Dragonflies emerge seasonally, too, alongside the frogs that crawl out of their dormant damp-winter hiding spots under dry stone and walls. With so much known wildlife existing here, and adapting to the revised habitat, it’s a joy to see so many vying creatures flourishing in a reserve that, though small, offers plenty, and then some.