03 Mar Whitelee National Nature Reserve
Whitelee National Nature Reserve is one of Britain’s most important upland nature reserves, of European conservation importance due to its active blanket bog and heather heaths. The blanket bog is home to a variety of plants including sphagnum moss, cloudberry, bog asphodel and cotton grass. On the lower slopes the heather moorland is home to birds such as red grouse, and birds of prey including merlin, buzzard, peregrine falcon and hen harrier. One of the moor’s most striking insects is the day-flying northern eggar moth and butterflies such as ringlet, small heath and green-veined white are seen in summer. Skylark, stonechat and meadow pipit are common across the reserve, while on the high ground, dunlin and golden plover arrive in spring to breed. The River Rede and its tributaries add to the habitat diversity, and otters can often be seen hunting along its banks. Adder and common lizard are common here as well as palmate newts in the small pools along the burn. A herd of feral goats can sometimes be seen on the border with Kielderhead. There are interesting flush areas with plants such as early marsh orchid. High up the Bateinghope Burn, near Buzzard Crag, are two sets of limekilns, which burned limestone from a nearby quarry and mine.
The project will involve some habitat creation and restoration work, as well as improving access to areas of the reserve, providing a level of safe and easy access to parts of the site and carefully encouraging further exploration. This will include:
- Improved access from Carter Bar to provide a short easily accessible route (potentially wheelchair accessible) to a viewing area from the source of the River Rede looking across to Catcleugh Reservoir and the Rede valley. This is likely to include a boardwalk leading to some type of art installation, as well as enhanced interpretation.
- An improved footpath for hill walkers from Carter Bar to the viewpoint as far as Carter Pike. The cairn at Carter Pike will be re-worked to provide an attractive dry stone shelter.
- At the new woodland plantation near the reservoir the small circular path will be improved and a better link provided to gain access to the hill. Here a small lay-by type pull-in will be added to assist access for visitors.
- There will be peatland restoration and new woodland planting.