Breathing new life into neglected “treasures” along Gaywood River in King’s Lynn

(from left) Phil Rothwell, from the Heritage Lottery Fund; Dr Ian Hirst, from the Environment Agency

(from left) Phil Rothwell, from the Heritage Lottery Fund; Dr Ian Hirst, from the Environment Agency; Jr Jonah Tosney, from the Norfolk Rivers Trust; North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham, West Norfolk councillor Alistair Beales and David Fieldhouse, from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, on a bridge over the Gaywood River. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

A former landfill site is set to be transformed into a nature reserve.

The Gaywood River off Swan lane in King's Lynn. Picture: Chris Bishop

The Gaywood River off Swan lane in King's Lynn. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

The £210,000 scheme will create wooded parkland and wildflower meadows along the Gaywood River near Lynnsport, in King's Lynn.

There will also be a new disabled access footpath through the site, a pond dipping platform and benches.

And part of the river - originally a chalkstream - will be restored to its original habitat.

As well as open areas, the reserve includes Salter's Sanctuary, a thicket of blackthorn with a tunnel through the undergrowth.

There are a number of paths around the site. Picture: Chris Bishop

There are a number of paths around the site. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant


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The work is being part-funded by a £94,000 lottery grant. The remainder will be met by West Norfolk council, Norfolk Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency.

Alistair Beales, the council's cabinet member for special projects, said: 'There is a lot of interest in this site, which was a former landfill site. This project will enable us to make the site more accessible to a wider range of people, by creating a disabled-access path and adding benches and interpretation boards. The activities plan that accompanies the project offers some great opportunities for the local community to learn new skills and to get to know about the area and the various wildlife species that live there. It is also an opportunity to come together as a community to help plant and develop this green space.'

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Ursula Juta from the Norfolk Rivers Trust said: 'Norfolk Rivers Trust and Norfolk Wildlife Trust will offer pond dipping sessions open to the public as well as a number of activities open to schools in the Gaywood catchment.

'At the same time Norfolk Rivers Trust will be working to improve the health and structure of the river to create better habitat for native, chalk stream wildlife.'

An open area next to the car park is included in the plans. Picture: Chris Bishop

An open area next to the car park is included in the plans. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

Chalk streams support specific types of insects, rare types of invertebrates and other species such as water voles, otters, kingfishers, native brown trout and white-clawed crayfish.

Environment Agency fisheries officer Kye Jerom said: 'In recent years the Gaywood river has almost been forgotten, but this ambitious restoration project will make it more accessible to people, improve the fishery, and, importantly, enhance the river as a resource for the town.

'Our input will ensure a much more natural looking river channel, a more diverse fishery, with natural chalk stream features from which wildlife will benefit.'

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said: 'I think it's fantastic, these have been unharnessed assets, local treasures which have been totally neglected for so many years.

Foot and cycle paths around the site are set to be improved. Picture: Chris Bishop

Foot and cycle paths around the site are set to be improved. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

'It's always struck me that rivers are such an amazing part of the environment be it urban or rural.'

As part of the project a series of activities will also take place to build on the interest there has been in the former landfill site. These will include litter picks, bat walks, storytelling, pond dipping, willow weaving and planting days. The heritage of Gaywood River is not widely understood so the project aims to highlight its importance in the development of the town.

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