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PONTOON VILLAGE ON A FLOOD PLAIN; Out&About GRAHAM YOUNG VISITS BROCKHOLES FLOATING NATURE RESERVE...

Byline: GRAHAM YOUNG

JUST when you think you've seen everything, along comes a development to really take your breath away...

When our experienced travel editor took a look at these pictures and asked him to guess where they were from.

'Scandinavia,' he said. But he was wrong. This remarkable "village" is just 130 miles up the M6 from Spaghetti Junction.

Just like the under-appreciated Salford Park is underneath J6 here in the Midlands, Brockholes Floating Nature Reserve is right next to J31.

As the gateway to Blackpool and the Fylde Coast, the Lake District and Scotland, Brockholes is far more than just a great day out in its own right.

It could also be your environmentally friendly alternative to M6 service stations like Charnock Richard (J27-28) or Lancaster Forton (J32-33).

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust first contested quarrying on the site in 1992. Newly opened, it now has the potential to become the country's leading nature reserve.

What it is - and where it is - will surely make Brockholes one of the 21st century's great successes for UK tourism.

The buildings on a 4,000-tonne pontoon are also in the middle of the River Ribble's flood plain.

They were designed by London-based competition winners Adam Khan Architects to be 'A Floating World...

an ancient marshland village'.

From a distance, the roofing material looks like slate, but it's actually treated wood. The 'village' paths are a mixture of decking and concrete with polystyrene inside.

The mixed-use buildings include corporate conference centres, all with giant skylights at their tapered tops, to minimise heat gain/ loss while maximising natural light.

Of value to all visitors are a gift shop and the Larder on the Lake store, which sells fine local foods.

The restaurant (with free WiFi) serves top quality food at a fair price. With a wonderful lakeside view thrown in, we rated it the best experience since the Wildlife and Wetland Trust's Slimbridge in Gloucestershire.

Complete with one of the county's largest strips of ancient woodland, Brockholes is a mixture of wetlands, seeding meadows, hedgerows and bird-watching hides. Yet the Gravel Pit and Reserve trails are accessible by wheelchairs / prams. Volunteers have helped to propagate 20,000 reed seedlings to create a new, twohectare reed bed which will take several years to mature and become a home to sedge warblers, reed warblers, reed buntings and water rail.

Other birds you might see on the reserve's Boilton Marsh include lapwing, redshank and snipe.

Nook Pool has been designed to be a good home to dragonflies like brown hawker and emperor dragon-fly.On June 29, a 'bio blitz' saw naturalists, parents and children hit by foul weather - but they recorded 445 different species on the site regardless.

VISITOR INFO * Address: Brockholes Visitor Village (PR5 0UJ) is directly off one of the two roundabouts at M6 J31.

Tel: 01772 872000; website: www.brockholes.org; email: info@brockholes.org * Admission: Free. Contributing to conservation work, car parking charges are: pounds 1 for one hour, pounds 2 (two hours), pounds 4 (two to four hours) and pounds 10 (more than five hours).

Coaches free. Dogs: Guide dogs only. Open from 10am-5pm April-October and from 10am-4pm November-March.Activities: there's everything from educational classes to crafts, health walks, yoga and, on holiday Saturdays, children's cinema screenings.

CAPTION(S):

GO GREEN: One of the trails at Brockholes in the Ribble Valley STEP BACK IN TIME: Brockholes floating visitor village - designed to resemble ancient marshland village. Pictures: Graham Young SPOT THE BIRDY: Metallic artwork at Brockholes LEAD THE WAY: One of the pathways inside Brockholes floating visitor village
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 30, 2011
Words:595
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