Parklife Summer 2020

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Parklife June – August 2020

Staying safe Food foraging Looking forward... summer

lockdown special


Ham Farm House, Ham Lane, Peterborough PE2 5UU E: T: 01733 234193


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Welcome to the ‘lockdown special’ edition of Parklife!

We do hope you’ve been keeping safe and well during these very difficult times for us all. We are sure many of you are longing to return to the Park but if you are not able to at the moment, we can share with you that the Park is looking green and glorious with dappled shady glades, bees busily buzzing around the emerging wildflowers, and wildlife families happily expanding. Have you spotted the cygnets, goslings and ducklings on our lakes – either in reality on your daily exercise or virtually on our social media channels? It’s exciting to see them growing up. This Parklife edition is understandably very different from our usual summer editions, which are always packed with pages of events and activities for all the family. Unfortunately, this year we have had to cancel all our scheduled activities organised by Nene Park and by external providers until the end of August. As the lockdown is relaxed further throughout the summer, we may be able to put on some additional activities so please keep an eye on our website and social media channels for news and updates, as they happen. We can still let you know about work and developments continuing behind the scenes in the Park, so have a read about our new electric boat on page 3, what to look forward to at Nene Outdoors on page 6, what our #YourCommunityGreenspace project has been up to on page 9 and learn all about summer food foraging on page 11! From us all at Nene Park – stay safe and we look forward to seeing you in the Park before too long! 2

Photographs by our volunteer Trevor Henderson and our Park rangers.

Our wildlife is thriving! There has been no shortage of interesting wildlife sightings and sounds in the Park over the past few months, which shows that the decrease in visitors has had a positive effect on our wildlife. Two nightingales were heard on Oak Meadow which was a first for the Park. Cuckoos have also been heard on Ham Mere. Our swan, geese and duck families have been reproducing very happily and have benefited from our lockdown ‘dogs on leads’ recommendation.

An unusual sighting!

Green ring-necked parakeets on our birdfeeders at the bird hides and also by the Visitor Centre!

Our electric-powered boat will be here soon! Our new electric-powered boat is almost built and will be delivered to the Park as soon as lockdown is over. We’ll be offering cruises on Overton Lake and onto the river as soon as we are able to. The new electrically-powered boat for the Park will replace the previously diesel-powered boat that used to provide passenger trips around Overton Lake at Ferry Meadows. The batteries used to power the new boat will be charged using electricity provided through a green energy tariff, as part of the Trust’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint and respond to a climate emergency. The boat is being made by Norfolk Boat builders, Landamores who have been building boats in Wroxham and Hoveton since 1923. The boat is an Edwardian styled Frolic 31 launch, made by combining new and traditional manufacturing methods and the highest quality of materials and workmanship.

30-45 minute trips will be offered for up to 12 passengers around Overton Lake and out onto the River Nene. To ensure this tranquil experience is available to all, the boat will have an accessible lift enabling up to 2 wheelchair users on board. The service will be run at weekends and during school holidays. In addition, bespoke trips will also be developed for special occasions and corporate groups, providing a unique view of the Park and an inspiring experience on the water. Future plans for the boat include the possibility of a taxi service to different parts of the Park. The Trust also hopes to install a solar array to help charge the boat, creating a truly sustainable long-term energy source. Many thanks go to the various funders who have enabled us to purchase this electric boat:

Photography competition going from strength to strength Flooded Heron Meadow at sunset January - Iwona Chodkika

Each month in 2020, we have had a flurry of entries to our photography competition. The winning photograph each month is shared on social media and will feature in a Nene Park calendar for 2021, which will be on sale in our Visitor Centre in time for Christmas. Take a look at the winning entries each month so far:

Gull at the bird feeding platform February - Charlotte Edwards

If you would like to enter the competition, please email your photos each month to

Lynch Lake Kiosk transformed! After a break during lockdown, Princebuild have re-commenced work renovating the old ice cream kiosk by Lynch Lake, transforming it into a community hub that will be used for multiple uses by different groups of Park users. The first users will be our artistsin-residence, who we are hoping will be able to start their residencies in the Park in August. Fingers crossed!

Milton Ferry Bridge March - Russell Cole

Bluebell Wood April - Stacey Holmewood

May Winner Chris Atkinson with a photo of the swan and cygnets on Lynch Lake. 3

Keeping the Park


for our visitors

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and following Government guidance, our car parks, toilets, cafes, playgrounds, Visitor Centre and Nene Outdoors Watersports and Activity centre were closed on the 24 March and remained closed for the following eight weeks. In addition, all scheduled activities and events in the Park were also cancelled. During this period, visitors who could access the Park on foot or by bike could continue to come for their daily exercise and enjoy the quieter greenspace and thriving nature and wildlife. Following the Government’s announcement on the easing of lockdown measures on the 10 May, which made particular reference to people being able to go out for exercise multiple times each day and being allowed to drive for exercise, the car parks and public toilets were reopened on 13 May with strict social distancing measures in place. Since then, despite an increase in visitor numbers, people remain cautious and the majority or our visitors are observing our social distancing guidelines around the Park. We have hand sanitiser stations in place near the toilets and car park payment machines and 2 metre distance markers by our payment machines and cafes. 4 4

Throughout this lockdown period, our reduced numbers of staff have been continuing to keep the Park looking beautiful with grass mowed and strimmed, litter picked and maintenance tasks kept up to date. A duty ranger has remained in the Park everyday but is only responding to emergency issues. As the summer continues and as lockdown restrictions are further relaxed, there will be further changes... We are planning a phased reopening of Nene Outdoors from 6 June with limited activities on offer such as pedalo rides and cycle hire. We also hope to reopen the Visitor Centre in some form in the middle of June. Keep an eye on our website and social media for further updates on any changes. Thank you to our staff for keeping the Park well maintained and to our visitors for adhering to our social distancing guidelines.

t e k c i r C l l a b t o Fo or


Scott, our new groundsman at Woodlands sports pitches in Castor, tells us about his plans for the site. My first few months looking after Woodlands have seen the wettest February on record followed by limited use due to the Covid-19 lockdown. However, I have carried on with improving the sports pitches; battling chafer grubs and a crafty fox who likes to dig up my freshly renovated goal mouths.

Woodlands sports fields currently has five football pitches ranging from full size to Junior pitches and also has a 14-pitch cricket square. We have five different clubs currently in place to use the facilities and hope to develop more pitches and encourage additional clubs in the coming seasons.

Whilst improving the sports fields, I’m trying to use cultural practises as my first port of call and use as many natural products as I can for soil and plant health. An example of this is using seaweed products on the cricket square, which helps with root development, grass colour and stress control.


My aim is to make the Woodlands pitches the best sports surfaces I can and develop many good relationships along the way. I’m hoping also to encourage nature to the area with bird boxes and wildlife areas created around the edges of the site.

If you would like to find out more about Woodlands and about whether your sports team can play there, please contact Scott –

Ranger ?

I look forward to welcoming you to Woodlands and am very excited for the future.

Where’s the

Our rangers have been busy taking photos and videos while they have been working across the Park and sharing them for us all to guess where they’ve been. Our social media followers have been enjoying spotting which part of the Park it is and learning a few interesting

facts about the location. Here’s one to try here. Do you know where the Ranger is here? The answer is on page 11. Keep an eye out for more #WheresTheRanger images on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. 5

Youth Sailing at Nene Outdoors

The next generation of sailors in Peterborough and the surrounding area will have the opportunity to start their sailing careers at Nene Outdoors this year, with two youth sailing programmes starting when they can.

The OnBoard Sailing Challenge will be delivered in partnership with The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and is aimed at introducing young people to sailing. Nene Outdoors would like to invite young people age 8 to 16 who have no previous experience of sailing to challenge themselves by signing up to the 6-week OnBoard sailing programme which will take place at Nene Outdoors Watersports and Activity Centre on Saturday mornings 10am till 12.30pm. Participants can expect to have a fun and enjoyable first time sailing experience and on completion, will achieve the RYA Youth stage one certificate. Further information and prices for both programmes can be found on our website. 6

For those who complete the OnBoard Sailing Challenge or who have already achieved their RYA level one elsewhere, the next step in their sailing journey is to join the Nene Outdoors Junior Sailing Club. Sessions run on Saturday afternoons throughout the season and enable the youth sailor to practise and build on their skills in a fun environment with safety cover and an instructor on hand to provide support and guidance. As young people develop their skills, they will be encouraged to undertake the next sailing level proficiency course and who knows, maybe aspire to become an instructor or the next Ben Ansley or Shirley Robinson.

Keep calm and get

Although Nene Outdoors Watersports and Activity Centre had to close over lockdown and temporarily cease the wide range of activities for schools, youth groups, corporate groups and the general public, we are now open for a limited number of activities, where we can guarantee social distancing measures. While we can only offer some activities at the moment (click here to find out more), here are a few new things to look forward to, when we are able to operate fully again.


While schools have been closed, the Nene Outdoors Education team have been supporting parents and children by providing downloadable activity sheets filled with exciting ideas for outdoor learning, which can take place in your own garden or local park. Our team have years of experience delivering outdoor learning and have adapted many of our most popular activities to be suitable for home schooling. Every weekday a new activity or spotter sheet has been posted on the Nene Park website, with highlights so far including making wild rainbows, a pirate scavenger hunt and natural music. Don’t worry if you have missed any, as all activities posted so far are still available on our website: ( things-to-do/childrens-trails-and-activityresources)

New Bell Boats coming to Nene Outdoors

Here is an example of one of the activities you can try here:

Nene Outdoors has been fortunate to receive funding from Sport England to purchase two new Bell Boats. The Bell Boat is a totally unique design in watercraft. Its purpose is to remove the fear of taking part and to help with team work and co-operation. Its large stable design means a group of up to 12 can paddle one boat, which makes it ideal for use with schools and other groups.

other and race them down the lake.



Bell boats lend themselves perfectly to working as a floating classroom so why not have a geography or science lesson afloat? Or how about something a little more vigorous; pitch the two boats against each

Youth groups Want something a little different for your youth group to do? Come and have your own round robin racing league and see which team comes out on top. The Bell Boat also has an important part to play in the corporate world for management and team development. By working cohesively and focusing on communication, you will get the best out of your boat.

Natural art Collect lots of different natural materials (i.e. flowers, leaves, sticks, grass, pebbles etc.). Make sure you have a variety of sizes, shapes and colours. Use your natural materials and turn them into a piece of natural art, by placing them on the floor to create an image using contrasting colours, particular shapes, different shading, etc. For example you could make a piece of art using circles, straight lines, squares or stars. Or only use different shades of green on a brown background.

Spotter sheets Within the variety of daily activities, we’ve also included ‘spotter sheets’ for flowers, birds, insects, bumblebees and butterflies. Download a sheet from the website and see what you can tick off! 7

Fox Play will be designed in a similar style as existing Badger Play. Existing Lakeside Play area.

Looking forward...

Plans submitted for Fox Play We’re excited to announce that plans have now been submitted to Peterborough City Council for our newly remodelled play area in Ferry Meadows, replacing the existing play area at Lakeside. Fox Play forms the next stage in updating and improving the play provision at Ferry Meadows, following similar successful developments of Otter Play in 2014 and Badger Play in 2016, designed to offer natural adventurous play for all ages. We have responded to feedback on our existing play areas and also on a proposed model of the new play area, to offer something new which caters for all. Fox Play will provide a fully accessible play area

with water features, zip lines, raised walk ways, climbing opportunities and plenty of new tree planting. It will be the biggest of our play areas aimed at slightly older children, but accessible for all. Keep your eye on our website and social media channels later in the year for the latest news on the result of the planning application. We look forward to the project becoming a reality for all to enjoy and hope to begin construction as soon as possible.

Look out for new signage in the Rural Estate Although delayed during lockdown, keep an eye out for new signage across the Rural Estate which will offer useful information and maps for our visitors there.

News on the proposed activity centre The Trust continues to work with Peterborough City Council to secure planning permission for this exciting project. It will come as no surprise that due to the nature of the project and the current circumstance there have been further delays in it being brought to the Planning Committee. However, we are awaiting a committee date imminently. 8

As not all Peterborough residents can access Nene Park in person during this time, Nene Park’s National Lottery Heritage Funded project Your Community Greenspace has created ‘Park in a Pack’ and ‘Park in an Envelope’ resources for communities in Peterborough. These packs, that include seeds, colouring sheets of Park images, wildlife spotter sheets, colouring pencils, postcard activity and also plants and chocolates donated by Notcutts, will help families who do not have access to computers or printers to take part in activities and help connect them to Parks and greenspaces.

‘Park in a pack’ delivered to Peterborough communities Cross Keys Homes’ residents shielding in sheltered accommodation and those using the food bank at the Compas Charity have already received these packs. People may not be able to access Nene Park in person, but we hope this brings a bit of the Park to them! We are very aware of the benefits

that time spent in nature brings and want all the communities of Peterborough to experience the benefits – Your Community Greenspace is enabling us to reach out and do just that. We are grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and of course the National Lottery players for enabling us to do this.

The Nene Park: Your Community Greenspace project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is an exciting development project that could lead to a 5-year project for Nene Park with three overarching aims:

The project is currently in the research and development phase, with the project team working hard to pilot activities that will help inform the development of the project further.

• Empower and engage our communities to help conserve the natural heritage of Nene Park.

Due to lockdown we haven’t been able to hold the face to face events and activities we had originally planned but we are continuing our consultation by hearing from residents in Peterborough to learn about your experiences of using your local greenspaces and how you would like to see them change and improve in the future, making them more accessible to all.

• Build bridges with the multicultural communities of Peterborough to make Ferry Meadows an inclusive community hub. • Improve physical and mental health and wellbeing through nurturing connections with nature and the outdoors.

Do get in touch if you would like to share your thoughts – contact Hannah at Look out for the project highlighted via the Nene Park social media channels using the hashtag #YourCommunityGreenspace. You can also follow the project on Twitter @YourCommunityGS 9

What have our

Volunteers been up to?

Although we aren’t running any volunteer sessions on site at present, our volunteers are still incredibly important to us and we are busy planning their safe return. Our Nene Park Volunteer WhatsApp group has been a great place for volunteers to share updates and, for those able to visit the park on foot and bicycle, pictures of the Park.

Volunteers working from home… We also have a team of volunteers making face coverings that will be used for when staff and volunteers return to the site.

Pictured above and below are some of the incredible wildlife images that volunteer Trevor has taken to keep our volunteers in touch with the Park

If you are interested in making face coverings, visit Nene Park’s YouTube channel for a visual ‘how to guide’. Go to

The future… The absence of sessions has not put people off enquiring about volunteering for Nene Park and we continue to induct and welcome new volunteers ready for a time when sessions resume. If you would like to volunteer for Nene Park, contact As well as our existing roles, we would like to request further services:  Translation – to improve access to the Park for communities across Peterborough, including work via our Your Community Greenspace project, we would like some of our key messages translated.  Project Supporter Group Member (#YourCommunityGreenspace) – if you would like to help shape a Nene Park project and represent the views of your community, we would love to hear from you.

10 10

Foraging in lockdown

Looking for a new lockdown hobby? One of our horticulture apprentices Harriet, shares her love of food foraging and summer is the perfect time of year to give it a go! Harriet

With summer well and truly here, the sun is calling out for me to go and explore on an evening walk. This year I am discovering nature’s edibles and unlocking her delicious secrets. It seems that foraging for food is not confined to the stone-age and history textbooks but is, in fact, making a real comeback. Lockdown has shown us how different our world could look with cleaner air, less noise pollution, and flourishing wildlife. Can we reduce our food miles by trying something tasty that is, quite literally, on our doorstep? Here are a few simple ideas to get you started on your foraging journey this summer.

Elderflower and elderflower cordial

Elderflowers In June the hedgerows and fields are brimming with elderflower bushes that smell divine: sweet, floral, creamy and summery (or occasionally a bit like cats wee if the blooms have passed their best!) The flowers are ideal for making refreshing elderflower cordial and many other delightful dishes. Edible weeds – nutritious and delicious If you are looking for some goodies closer to home then pop into the garden and pick some raw greens for your salad bowl. Older plants may be a little chewy so make sure you only pick younger plants. You can eat the stems, leaves and flowers of the following ‘weeds’, just make sure you give them a rinse first. Here are some to try:  Dandelion  Chickweed  Fat hen  Violets Plants do absorb chemicals and air pollution so pick your spot carefully and avoid busy roadside verges or lawns that have been sprayed with chemicals. And of course, if you are not 100% of the plants ID then please don’t eat it. Do stay curious, stay safe and most importantly have fun on your foraging adventures. For more information on wild food and foraging, go to:

It’s the Osier beds on the north side of the river, between Bluebell Woods and Milton Ferry Bridge. We use willow in and around the Park from this area to help the education team with their activities, to provide fencing for Otter Play area and also in workshops such as basket making. Where’s the Ranger? (page 5) answer: 11

Main image by George Wood

Please support Nene Park when it is needed most The Covid-19 pandemic caused Nene Park Trust to take sweeping actions to help it get through these unprecedented times. Effectively closing down the park as far as we were able to, including shutting our car parks, Visitor Centre, Nene Outdoors, cafés, events programme, education and volunteering provision, were steps we never imagined would be required only a few months ago. Much like so many other organisations, we furloughed almost half our staff to reduce our expenditure as much as possible. Even so we are expecting to suffer a net loss in income of over £500,000 this year. Throughout all this we are so pleased we are still able to welcome our communities closest to us, those who can walk or cycle to enjoy the park during lockdown. Never more so have the benefits of natural space been realised by so many people. We are immensely proud of our fantastic greenspace, an area for people to relax, to breathe fresh air and to see and

hear nature at its finest during these worrying times. And as we slowly open up again we hope that more of you can visit Nene Park and enjoy everything it has to offer for your heart and mind. We know we are one of thousands of charities asking for help at this time, but if you are able to support us by giving a donation to help fill

the income gap, we will make sure it is used to keep the park maintained, safe, looking beautiful, and offering everyone opportunities for recreation and relaxation throughout the coming months and beyond. Please visit or email to find out how you can donate. From all of us at Nene Park Trust, thank you.

What’s on?

Our usual busy activity and event schedule is not on this summer but as lockdown restrictions are relaxed further through the summer months (fingers crossed) we hope to make more of our activities available at Nene Outdoors Watersports and Activity Centre. We are also working on a continued programme of downloadable activities and trails throughout the summer so that we can continue to keep our visitors engaged in the Park. Keep checking our website and social media for details of what is on.  TWITTER instagram @neneparkpboro