Eastrington Ponds was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2002 in recognition of its wildlife value and its importance to the local community. Local Nature Reserves aim to protect places of special interest and provide opportunities for research, education and informal enjoyment.
It is hard to believe that what is now a peaceful nature reserve and fishing lake was once the most industrial area of Eastrington. The large pond exists on the site of the former Eastrington Brick Works and the tranquil rail trail was once the busy Hull to Barnsley line. After 100 years of carrying coal from the West Riding coalfields to the docks in Hull the line closed and the track has now returned to nature. The borrow pits are remnants of the railway construction and were dug to provide material to build the railway embankment. These borrow pits provide valuable wetland areas for wildlife, where plants and animals are not disturbed.
The reserve now provides many rich wildlife habitats, hosting a wealth of flora and fauna. It is a special place where you can simply soak in its tranquillity and relax!
Exploring the Large Pond
The large pond provides a home and important feeding area for wildlife. Wildfowl can be seen on the pond throughout the year, with the rafts floating in the centre of the pond used by roosting ducks and geese. Watch out in the summer for common terns nesting on these artificial islands, and the beautiful great crested grebes diving for fish around them.
Pond dipping enthusiasts will discover that the pond is also home to a variety of pond life such as water beetles, pond skaters, caddis fly larvae and prehistoric dragon and damselflies. The pond provides an atmospheric setting to watch Daubenton's bats flying low over the surface of the water as they hunt after sunset.
Listen out for a distinctive plopping sound in the pond and you will be rewarded with seeing one of the rare and protected water voles entering the pond. Over the last century the number of water voles has dramatically declined, and in Yorkshire up to 97% has disappeared from our rivers, streams and ponds. Water voles are sometimes mistaken for brown rats, but do not be mistaken; water voles have shorter blunter faces and very small ears, as well as a hairy tail. Water voles are also vegetarian, feeding on waterside grasses and rushes plus roots and bark during winter months.
A new bird hide erected in 2010 allows you to watch the nesting wildfowl without disturbance.
Exploring the Meadows
Mammals love it at Eastrington Ponds! As well as the bats and water voles favouring the ponds, the long grassy areas provide a valuable habitat for other voles and mice including Britain's smallest mammal, the tiny harvest mouse. Harvest mice are so difficult to see that it is only their nests and burrows in the long grass that have given away their presence to conservationists. Deer, squirrels and hedgehogs can also be seen on quiet days.
The small grassy areas are looked after as traditional meadows. Wild flowers are encouraged and several species of orchid, including common spotted orchid, twayblade and bee orchids have been recorded on the reserve.
Exploring the Railway Line & Borrow Pits
Beyond the large fishing pond and meadow, take a rest in the shady picnic area before venturing along the old railway line. The floral diversity of the verges are being encouraged to support invertebrates and mammals. Traditional haymaking practices of cutting and raking the sward occurs in late summer. There are many fine mature willow, hawthorn, ash and oak trees stretching into the distance, and small wild flower clearings dotted along the line ensure that a variety of butterflies can find the plants they need. Purple hairstreak butterflies are difficult to see high in the canopy of the oak trees, but lower down the speckled wood butterflies are in abundance despite living here at the most northern tip of their range in England.
Explore the paths leading to the borrow pits each side of the railway line to venture to the valuable wetland parts of the reserve. With nationally important species such as reed buntings breeding here, it is crucial these areas remain quiet and undisturbed. Glimpses of kingfishers can be your reward as they fly over the ponds and along the drains. The bird hide is a great place to not only watch birds but also to observe dragonflies as they dart across the open water.
Access to the reserve from the car park is by two main paths, which both lead around the main pond.
A short walk of less than 1km around the pond passes the busy bird feeding station. For the more energetic visitor a longer 2km trail leads along the old railway line. Several paths drop down to the smaller borrow pits, and a bird hide offers fine views of wildlife on one of these smaller ponds.
There are 3 picnic areas on the reserve and seats approximately every 100 metres along the paths. The woodland picnic area offers a shady rest area on the reserve, and is also designed for visitors using wheelchairs.
The following pdf document shows a map of Eastrington Ponds.
Map of Eastrington Ponds (pdf 405kb opens in new window)
The following word document offers safety guidance on Eastrington Ponds. Safety guidance notes for Eastrington Ponds (word 16.11kb opens in new window)