Grant will help open a window on the wonders of the Wensum

Islands on Old Squaw Lake. Pensthorpe Natural Park has been landscaped to help establish reed fringe

Islands on Old Squaw Lake. Pensthorpe Natural Park has been landscaped to help establish reed fringes. Picture Credits: Pensthorpe Conservation Trust. - Credit: Archant

Visitors will soon be able to discover the wonders of the River Wensum at the Pensthorpe estate, near Fakenham, thanks to a £53,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund .

Pensthorpe Natural Park from the air, with early-stage work on creating the new reed beds taking pla

Pensthorpe Natural Park from the air, with early-stage work on creating the new reed beds taking place in the foreground. - Credit: Archant

Pensthorpe Conservation Trust will soon start work to create a new river hide, which can house a full class of schoolchildren, overlooking a newly created reed bed and a new pond-dipping facility.

It will be the final piece in the long-term project to restore a 3km stretch of the Wensum, which has, until now, been carried out away from the public gaze.

Reserve manager Richard Spowage said: 'It will be the first time in 10 years that we have been able to open up a new part of the 700-acre Pensthorpe estate to visitors.

'It will help provide a window through which we will soon be able to share the fruits of our labours. Visitors will be able to enjoy state-of-the-art viewing facilities within a carefully controlled setting. We want people to experience the real 'wow' factor this stretch of the Wensum has to offer.'


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The trust also aims to take on additional full-time wardens as well as recruit more volunteers.

Over the past seven years, £700,000 of Catchment Restoration Fund grant money has financed the project, which has been a partnership between the Environment Agency, Natural England and the trust.

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During the work the river has been reconnected to its natural floodplain, important watercourse features have been created and four new reed beds have been established, to help support bird species under pressure elsewhere.

It is hoped the hide will be ready for the summer holidays, although it will be next year before the pond-dipping facility is ready to use.

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said: 'These plans will enable young people, in particular, to get hands-on with the natural heritage of the river Wensum and the creatures that live within it.'

Altogether, more than £300,000 has been awarded to projects in the East by the HLF. This includes £86,700 to the Hawk and Owl Trust to help people explore challenges facing peregrine falcons in Norfolk. It will pay for 50 new volunteers to collect data on peregrine falcon behaviour, diet, prey and breeding activities, at Norwich Cathedral and elsewhere.

How are you helping wildlife in the region? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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