Keep it natural; don’t over commercialise it
The intention is to introduce some signage and improve access where possible in terms of managing the natural environment and reducing physical barriers such as stiles. The signage is intended to reassure people that they are using permissible routes and public rights of way, which already exist across the estate. The routes will remain as they are; they will not be tarmacked. Some improvements may be made to the car park at Splash Lane, but again, this will be minimal and in keeping with the surroundings.
Is there free parking to visit the Rural Estate?
Parking is available at most entry points, namely Castor, Ailsworth, Sutton and the surrounding area. Parking at these locations is free but space limited. If entering the Rural Estate from Ferry Meadows then the usual car parking facilities should be used and charges will apply.
Footpaths need to be kept trimmed for easy access
Access will be improved where possible, such as replacing stiles with gates. However, as the area is rural and livestock graze some of the land, certain factors will influence decisions, i.e. gates need to be cattle proof! The budget for this project is limited so whilst we are identifying many opportunities to improve infrastructure, this will have to be prioritised, with not all areas being undertaken at this time.
It always helps if paths are accessible and not used unnecessarily by vehicles churning up the mud.
Entry to some routes may be via road/tracks that are not owned by Nene Park Trust, such as Splash Lane in Castor, and is used by vehicles, including agriculture vehicles. This can make the conditions very muddy at certain times of the year. We aim to improve the conditions where we can and will work closely with other agencies to encourage them to do the same.
It would be good to have toilet facilities
There are a number of pubs and a café in Castor/Ailsworth that have toilet facilities. The Nene Valley Railway Station at Wansford also has a café and toilet facilities.
Somewhere to perch is always welcome
The suggestion of seating (natural, not urbanised) is a good one and we will take this into consideration and see what we can do as part of future projects.
You can’t tell if Livestock are in the field until you get there
Parts of the Rural Estate are inhabited by livestock. Whilst visitors should be alerted to this on the entry to fields, we appreciate that this doesn’t warn people in advance. We will try to include updated information on the website and the Duty Ranger may be able to advise as they make regular visits to all the Park areas. Please note that farmers move cattle from field to field as and when necessary and the presence of livestock should be anticipated when on grassland in the rural estate.
Riverbanks should be protected from livestock damage
Fencing has been introduced in a number of places to protect the river banks. However, it is not always possible to do this due to a lack of water supply for cattle. Where possible the Trust has introduced cattle drinking points that allow livestock access to the riverbank to prevent them from poaching extensive areas of land adjacent to the river. In some places we have introduced mechanical pasture (nose) pumps to supply water for cattle.
Manage it for Environmental and wildlife as a priority
Some arable parts of Nene Park are tenanted and farmers have to follow DEFRA cross compliance rules which specify when and what can be done on the land.
Also, arable areas with Scheduled Ancient Monument designations (SAMs) (there are six of varying size, across Nene Park) that are in Stewardship, will have specifications for minimum tillage and larger field and grass margins along watercourses. These are aimed at protecting the SAM, preventing chemical run off and siltation of watercourses and the margins provide benefits to wildlife.
Most of the pasture land in the Park holding is already in stewardship schemes which have specifications for each land parcel aimed at delivering benefits to the environment and wildlife.
It would be nice to have guidance on walking routes for the Rural Area
Information on the routes will be at main entry points to the Rural estate, on the website and available from the Visitor Centre. Local leaflets are currently available from the café in Ailsworth. This information, along with way finding markers, should help reassure visitors that they are on permissive routes and public rights of way.
There may also be an opportunity to provide guided walks with a Park Ranger in the future at sites across Nene Park. Keep an eye on our events page.
It would be great to explore other areas of the estate and extend the little railway
The miniature railway is operated independently and currently there are no plans to extend this service to other areas in the Park. However, Nene Valley Railway, which is also operated independently, runs between Peterborough and Wansford which potentially makes the rural areas of Wansford, Sutton, Ailsworth and Castor accessible. There are two stations that serve Nene Park, one at Orton Mere and the other at Overton at Ferry Meadows.
Swing gates are too small to get a bike through
Some footpaths across the Rural Estate are public rights of way for pedestrians and the local authority are responsible for installing the kissing gates. The National Cycle route goes through the park and out to Castor and there are also local roads that serve Castor and Sutton.