Gosforth Park Nature Reserve
Gosforth Park Nature Reserve is a wildlife haven in Tyne and Wear, England. It includes a lake and woodland, and is managed by the Natural History Society of Northumbria. It is part of Gosforth Park, the old estate of Gosforth House.
In medieval times, what is now Gosforth Park Nature Reserve would have been agricultural land, there is some remaining evidence of ridge and furrow. The general habitat in the area would have been heathland, hence the name of the nearby village of West Moor and the nearby track called Heathery Lane. When the Brandling family took over the land and built their large estate house they had the surrounding area landscaped, as was the fashion of the day. This included planting new woodland and creating a new lake for boating and fishing. From historic maps it appears that the lake was created in the period 1810–1820 and that most of the woodland was planted around the mid-19th century.
The Brandling family fell on hard times and sold off the estate towards the end of the 19th century and from that period onwards nature began to take over. In 1924 in order to prevent hunting and shooting of the wildlife Mr W. E. Beck leased the shooting rights for the lake and surrounding woodland. He was a member of the Natural History Society of Northumbria and in 1929, in declining health, he passed his rights to the trustees of the Society. Since that time the Society has managed this area for the benefit of wildlife.
Gosforth Park Nature Reserve contains an important wetland, which is dominated by Phragmites reeds and open water and surrounded by wet carr woodland. These wetland habitats support breeding bird species such as reed warbler, water rail, reed bunting, sedge warbler, common tern and little grebe and in the winter birds such as bittern, kingfisher, wigeon, teal and shoveler. Aquatic mammals such as otter and water shrew are also present. England's second largest colony of coralroot orchid is also found here.
The majority of the reserve is semi-natural woodland, dominated by oak and birch, however there are also some plantations of conifers. Woodland mammals such as badger, fox, roe deer and stoat can be found and red squirrel are also still present. Most importantly the woodland supports a wide range of insects, including many uncommon species.
There is also a small area of meadow, which contains plants such as heather and northern marsh orchid.
Gosforth Park Nature Reserve was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1977.
The nature reserve is still part of Newcastle Racecourse, which as of 2015 is owned by Arena Racing Company. The nature reserve is leased to the Natural History Society of Northumbria.
There is no public access to the nature reserve in order to minimise disturbance to sensitive wildlife. There are no public rights of way. The reserve is open to members of the Natural History Society of Northumbria and once a year there is an open day for the local community. Day permits can also be purchased.