New Visitor Centre Opened 1 May, 2010
This eco-friendly building is designed to blend into the landscape . Visitors will feel as though they are going into a grassy bank when entering the building. This low visual impact is further enhanced by a turf roof, created using flower-rich grassland turf from the site.
The building is a timber construction minimizing the use of steel. Internally there are “rammedchalk” walls, using chalk from a former chalk quarry a quarter of a mile away. A mammoth tusk found on site is on show in a pit covered with glass in the centre of the foyer floor.
The construction of this centre has been supported by Biffaward and Hertiage Lottery Fund.
College Lake, once a chalk quarry, has been restored over 20 years into a mix of different habitats and is now one of the wildlife trust’s flagship reserves.
Entering the reserve, you see a wide expanse of open water and marshland.
The marshland supports breeding waders, including lapwing and redshank. College Lake is a key breeding site in Buckinghamshire. In the lake, common terns nest on specially created islands.
In the winter, the inhabitants of the water change, and wintering wildfowl, such as wigeon and teal, from Scandinavia and beyond, use the wetlands for feeding and roosting.
The reserve contains many flowers in the chalk grassland. These support insects, including a number of rarer butterfly species such as the small blue. Rough grassland provides a home for breeding skylarks, as well as shelter for small mammals, which in turn feed birds of prey such as kestrels and barn owls.
College Lake’s Cornfield Flowers project started in the 1980s. This was one of the first places in the country to actively conserve these rare flowers. Look for a glorious show of colour every June and July.
More on this story when we visit it…
Nearest town: Tring
OS Sheet: 165; SP 934 140
Location: 2 miles north of Tring. Go north on the B488, ¼ mile north of canal bridge at Bulbourne turn left into entrance marked with green BBOWT signs.