Gosfield Nature Reserve

into the reserve

Gosfield Nature Reserve is on the site of former sand and gravel workings. From all accounts the quality of the sand and gravel was not great and the American airforce did not use it when they built the runways at Gosfield Airfield. By the 1960s the pits had ceased to operate and what was left behind were extraction holes which had filled with waters and heaps of spoil and bits of discarded machinery. There were few trees and the whole area was a barren wilderness.

In 1983, the owner, Mr Banning offered the ‘pits’ as they were then called to the Parish Council in return for permission to build houses on what is now Greenways. The area had long been used by people of the village particularly children for playing in (on the heaps of sand) and walking dogs. The Parish Council accepted this offer and so the Nature Reserve was created. At the same time a deal was struck with Halstead & Hedingham Angling Club to allow fishing in the pits for an annual rent. This arrangement continues until recently. The Parish Council are currently exploring the idea of setting up a village angling club.

At first, the Parish Council simply left the Nature Reserve to mature, which it has done over the last 30 years. Brambles colonised the open spaces and it was great attraction for blackberry pickers in the autumn, and trees began to appear so it became the wooded area we know today. In the 1990s, participants in the Youth Opportunities Scheme built bridges and created paths using sand from the heaps of spoil so that the Nature Reserve was accessible in all weathers.

At first, the Parish Council spent little money on the Nature Reserve, but since 2000 found it necessary to appoint a part time warden and draw up a Management Plan in recognition of the fact that the trees in particular needed management from a safety point of view. The previous Warden, Roger Smith has installed information boards, nesting boxes and has encouraged schools and other organisations to use the Reserve. There have also been surveys of wildlife and wild plants. Gates which can cater for pushchairs and the disabled have also been installed at the 3 main access points to the Reserve.

While it is open to the public, it is not widely publicised. The car park is small and the whole area is sensitive to wildlife so large numbers of visitors are not encouraged. However, for Gosfield people it remains an area of peace and tranquillity.