Launch of a Water Vole Trail to Winnall Moors
Press release from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
On Saturday 24 May 2014 Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust celebrates the completion of a five-year Heritage Lottery funded project to restore wildlife habitats on its Winnall Moors Nature Reserve and to improve access for visitors. The Trust will be hosting a celebratory event along Water Lane from 11.00am – 3.00pm. There will be arts and wildlife activities for all ages.
Winnall Moors nature reserve is an almost unique wild space in the heart of the city centre. Important for some of our most fascinating species, such as water vole, otter, kingfisher and Atlantic salmon, it provides a sense of wildness rarely found in such close proximity to a bustling city centre.
The reserve is connected to the city by the River Itchen, a world-renowned chalk river. There are around 200 chalk rivers in the world and more than three-quarters of them are found in England. The Itchen hosts some of the most diverse freshwater habitats and wildlife to be found in the UK and is one of the best examples of a chalk river.
The new Water Vole Trail is the final piece of work to be completed as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Project, which began in 2008. It reinforces the link between Winnall Moors and Winchester and, thanks to its way-markers, also helps people understand the global importance of the Itchen.
When people walk alongside the river and read the interpretation boards, they learn about its heritage and also discover more about the wildlife that lives there. The trail, designed by local artist Charlie Carter, begins at Abbey Gardens in the city, is 500 metres long and takes about half an hour to walk. Along the route, walkers will discover installations, interpretation panels and artistic pieces. There is no risk of getting lost before you reach the reserve; in honour of Winnall’s most iconic mammal, there are water vole footprints inserted into the pavement right along the route.