Our early work to find out what was wanted on the park quickly identified a nature trail for children as a high priority. This was confirmed by the children themselves when we visited local schools and asked children to tell us their preferences. Their fascination with nature, wildlife, and the outdoors, along with things that offered fun and activity, could be seen very clearly in their responses. We decided this was a great starting point for our work and we started to develop plans for a nature and trim trail for the park.
To take this further we worked with the schools and other local organisations in order to be able to demonstrate both need and support for creating the trail. We contacted suppliers of equipment and had meetings on the park to work out what was needed and who could supply equipment suitable for a public park. Once we had a supplier we looked around for sources of funding and decided to apply to Biffa Awards for a grant. Applying for funding is complex and time-consuming but we stuck with it over many weeks and months and submitted a bid. After a long delay, these things don’t happen quickly, we were told we had been successful.
After further meetings and negotiations we got an agreed installation date and the main trail was installed in September 2016. Protective ground cover was added in early November and the trail is now complete, just in time for winter!
The trail itself is made up of sturdy wooden pieces having nature related themes and engravings in the eco-area of the park fairly close to the wildlife pond. There is a section with a balance beam, stepping stones, a canyon bridge and parallel ropes, all of which help children develop and have fun. There are nature engraved tables and seating, a sensory board, a large dragonfly with seating around it, and nearby a crocodile lurks in the grass. Additional seating made from large logs cut to shape will also soon be installed.
We are aware that children would like to have more in the way of living nature linked with the nature trail, such as large hollow logs with viewing windows so they can see what is living in them. We are looking into ways of enhancing the trail and the eco-area generally by adding in more things of this type.
This project is very nearly complete. We still have to make a video, and fix some plaques acknowledging the sponsor, in order to satisfy the conditions of the grant, but it’s almost done. The trail, along with the extension to the pond boardwalk, and the nearby new play area, are together beginning to make quite a difference. There’s a lot more for children and parents to enjoy during their trip to this area of the park.