While trying to think of somewhere to visit in the locality recently, I had the idea of looking at the list of nature reserves on the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust website. Using the page’s search filters, I typed my postcode into the ‘Location’ box and selected the ‘Under 5 miles’ option for ‘Distance from search location’. Gratifyingly, this produced eleven reserves, ten of which I’d never heard of and one of which particularly drew my attention.
Stonepit Plantation is in the Strelley area and is located to the east of Strelley Hall and to the south of the housing estate that is adjacent to Nottingham Business Park. The site hides its secrets well, because within the plantation are the remains of a former quarry – marked on old Ordnance Survey maps simply as ‘Old Quarry’. The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust purchased the site in 1983 and, in more recent times, worked with the developers of the housing estate to establish proper public access to it.
The reserve is easily accessed from Houghton Drive and, once inside the site, it’s not too difficult to descend to the quarry floor to inspect the rock outcrops at close quarters. The Trust website informs us that this is ‘the most southerly exposure of magnesian limestone in Britain.’ This local variant is known as Bulwell Stone, and it has frequently been used as a building material.
The density of the tree canopy above the quarry means that the light sometimes struggles to make its way through to the lower level. Sounds are blocked out and the lush vegetation lends a hint of the exotic.
This is a small site, but a very atmospheric one. It’s the sort of place where you are quickly transported into a world that is quite at odds with its surroundings. I was glad to discover it, and will certainly be investigating more of these local nature reserves in the future, alive once again to the possibilities of the city.