Here at Taverham Mill, our delightful nature reserve set next to the river Wensum, five miles to the west of Norwich, we are having a little facelift!
I have known Taverham Mill since around 1995 from fishing it with friends. My first impression of the place was that the fishery was excellent. More recently I started volunteering which led on to a casual warden role. That was in 2011; I then got offered a full time role in 2012. I couldn’t think of a nicer job to be involved in, and I’m part of a really good team here at Taverham.
As I said, we’re undergoing a bit of a facelift, and I’m looking forward to the changes for a few reasons. I have loved fishing since the age of 5 so I love that side of the business. But I’m also pretty keen to learn more about water and local bird life. Our site will now hopefully be able to attract various new species due to the improved habitat and facilities, so I’m looking forward to learning all about them and passing that knowledge on to others.
Up until now, the site has predominately been used as a stunning coarse fishery for river and lake anglers alike. We’ve now been able to secure investment to improve and promote the reserve, something which myself and the other wardens are all really excited about.As you can see from the photo, our former chicken shed-cum-tackle shop has been gutted and is set to set become a hub for visitors to our site. Fishing tackle will continue to be stocked using some top coarse fishing brand names but a new line in nature reserve products will also be on sale for the first time. Information boards regarding the site’s history, future plans and the wildlife on view here will hopefully enhance the visitor experience and explain why we’re here. Next door to our redeveloped visitors centre will be a brand new children’s play area, which we’re hoping will make the site even better for families.
We’re really proud of our 3 nature walks of varying lengths and have a new bird hide, bird boxes, board walks and (coming soon) a new scrape to attract bird life. Wild deer are regularly seen on our fields amongst our seasonal Highland cattle that will be returning to site in May after a winter ‘break’ on the North Norfolk coast. The walks are comfortable, and are mainly on flat ground with board walk areas where the terrain becomes boggy. The walk around the lake, that has been present for several years, continues to attract many walkers and fisherman alike. From April 2014 dog walkers will, for the first time, be allowed to take their dogs on leads around the external walk. We hope this will encourage different members of public to see what we have on offer.
In the past couple of weeks developments have been fast and furious. So far the interior stripping of walls and ceiling has had to coincide with electrical and plumbing work which made it rather interesting! We’ve also been temporarily running of the site with a lack of computers and phone lines, which has mades us wonder how we ever managed all those years ago before such luxuries were around! We’ve just had a relatively busy weekend also with our main Taverham lake seeing some attention from several anglers. And, with the river season coming to a close on Friday 14th March we had a flurry of people with ‘last-cast’ syndrome, all wanting to get out in the recent Spring sunshine and have a good fish.
For the staff, it’s a massively exciting time as more improvements are set for Taverham in the coming months and years. We will be looking to improve access to the site and to introduce some events. We already have monthly volunteer days that anyone can attend, as well as after school fishing for kids from a nearby school, but we intend to promote other events such as pond dipping and paper making days. With four different schools within a mile of our site, we have a great opportunity to attract young people, but we’re determined to offer something for everyone.