Brockholes’ slogan announces “Nature just got closer” – and, at just a stone’s throw from junction 31 of the M6, this brand-new nature reserve certainly offers easy access. The reserve is composed of an appealing mix of grassland, reedbeds, ancient woodland and several lakes, the largest of which sports Brockholes’ extraordinary centrepiece: the floating Visitor Village, where you’ll find a visitor centre, shop, restaurant and other facilities.
The wide range of habitats at the site provides a home to numerous birds, bats, mammals and insects, which you can investigate from three trails. Two of them are wheelchair accessible: the Gravel Pit Trail, which you can do in half an hour, and the longer Reserve Trail, which takes you around a much larger area in about two hours, via a couple of accessible bird hides. Free, weekly guided walks are also offered, which are a great way to make the most of a visit. The ingeniously designed floating village really makes you feel like you’re on the lake, rather than near it, and is a fabulous spot to sit down and take it all in.
The car park has plenty of disabled spaces on firm, level tarmac that continues down to the Visitor Village. All areas of the “village” are totally accessible, with low counters and exhibits, interpretation boards, tactile features, large-print displays, hearing loops and an accessible toilet. Elsewhere, the trails through the reserve vary in surface type; the two accessible trails should be straightforward in a wheelchair, though they can get very muddy during wet weather. An access guide – available in the visitor centre and on the website – gives detailed information on path gradients, kissing gates (which can be bypassed, if necessary) and the location of hides and steps.
Food & drink: The bright, spacious restaurant in the Visitor Village offers fresh, locally sourced (and reasonably priced) food, low-level serving counters and lovely views across the lake.