The former open cast mine site at St Aidan’s, located between Leeds and Castleford in West Yorkshire, has officially opened as the RSPB St Aidan’s Nature Park.
The 400 hectare site, which includes grassland, reed beds, woodland, open water and islands, was restored by Harworth Estates and is now managed by the RSPB. The nature park is a haven for many rare birds, mammals, insects and wildflowers. Visitors can see species such as brown hares, roe deer, black-headed gulls and bitterns – one of the most threatened in the UK. There are also 7.5 miles (12 km) of interconnected footpaths and bridleways which will be open for activities like walking, jogging, cycling and horse riding.
Darren Starkey, RSPB Site Manager, commented: “I think the transformation has been pretty miraculous. From a nature point of view, what was a 70m hole in the ground has in less than 10 years become the most amazing habitat in the north of England.
“But it’s not just about nature, it’s about people. It’s an amazing space for people to enjoy and we hope it’s going to be really popular.”
Andrew Mackintosh, Director of Communication at Harworth Estates, said: “This is a jewel in our crown, it’s a national asset. We are delighted something so fantastic has been created here.”
The site is also home to a unique feature; a 1,200 tonne drag line excavator, known as “The Oddball” that is now home to nesting barn owls and kestrels. RSPB Visitor Experience Manager Chris Woolner explained: “It is a huge machine. At the time it came over from the USA it was the biggest machine in the world and now it’s become probably the biggest nesting box in the world.”
To find out more about the successful restoration of St Aidan’s, take a look at this article from Mineral Planning (Haymarket Business Media), written by Bob Nicholson, Director at Harworth Estates.
For information about the St Aidan’s Nature Park, visit the RSPB website.