An unexpected nature reserve

Yesterday we both had cabin fever, so we drove in to Lancaster for a mooch. The shops mostly don’t open until 11 am on a Sunday and we were a good bit earlier than that, so after a quick coffee we set off to explore some of the back streets near the railway station.

It’s not an area we know, as we’re usually dashing from the station to the city centre or back again and we’d never bothered to go further than that before. It was fascinating to poke round and discover the many streets of lovely Victorian stone terraced houses, the Arts and Crafts main building of Lancaster Girls Grammar School, and an entire nature reserve we knew nothing about.

Fairfield Fauna was developed in 2011-12 as a joint venture between local community groups, the grammar school, and Lancaster City Council. After a few games of “land swapsies” an area of sixteen acres was set aside as a nature reserve, encompassing farmland, hedgerows, wetlands, a stream and several ponds. The end result is a startlingly rural open space just minutes from the city centre, which on a good day is apparently alive with birdsong.

We didn’t see much actual wildlife apart from a couple of magpies, but it was lovely to stroll along the paths and boardwalks, starting at the Sunnyside allotments/orchard and ending up near the Lancaster Canal on Aldcliffe Road. I didn’t manage to get any photos, sadly, as I’d forgotten my camera and the light was too grey and flat for good photography anyway. But the pic above, courtesy of, shows the general scenery – and with Lancaster Castle in the background, just how close to the city centre it is.

I’m amazed that the local council don’t advertise this more, as it’s a fantastic asset for the city and links up nicely with both the station and the canal for accessible walking around the area. We’re delighted to have stumbled across it and will definitely be back to explore more of it on future visits to Lancaster.


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