If you’re looking for places to go walking in Bolton, this might just be what you’re looking for. Nestled in East Bolton along the Bradshaw Brook lies the hidden gem of Seven Acres Country Park (postcode BL2 2NA). In the midst of a built up area, this gorgeous slice of nature packs an awful lot into a small space. Starting on Bury Road you can park at the Wildlife Trust car park. The trust often hold events on site so it’s well worth checking out any flyers in the windows of the visitor centre before you start exploring.
Almost immediately you’ll get the chance for some water bird watching. The large pong behind the Wildlife Trust building plays host to moorhens, ducks and gorgeous spring flowers such as water avens, ragged robin (above) and yellow flag iris. If you’re really lucky you may also see the resident kingfishers that likes to perch around the edges of the water and sometimes even on the fence next to the path.
From here you have several choices for which way to go. Head straight ahead and you’ll find yourself at the meadows. Look closely between the grasses to find small delicate flowers in the spring and summer. Overhead you can often hear the ‘bubbling’ tune of the goldfinch. If you come here at dawn or dusk, you may also be able to spot night-flying moths and the small shapes of their predators – bats, which dart across the night sky with extraordinary speed and lightning turns.
If you take the left path at the pond you will eventually find yourself by Bradshaw Brook. You can follow this brook right to the other end of the park at Thicketford Road where you can also park. Along the way, keep you eyes trained on the fast flowing waters for flashes of white as dippers can often be seen rock-hoping right along the brook. These little birds are perfectly adapted for river life, able to dip below to surface to catch small invertebrates, hence their name. In the West of the park is a small pond where resident herons can often be spotted relaxing on the banks above. New paths and staircases have just recently been installed here to aid movement around the West of the site, allowing you better access to the wooded areas – watch out for different species of mushroom here including Shaggy Scalycap and Turkeytail (above).
On the other side of the brook in the East is the forest walk which takes you up into deciduous woods. At this time of year squirrels are very active constructing new dreys (nests) and hiding as many nuts as possible to see them through the winter. Long tailed tits can be seen flitting from tree to tree in small groups along with other tit species and if you’re lucky you may spot the elusive red fox.
The site also boasts a very rich heritage. ‘The Friends of Seven Acres’ often put on a heritage walk which is highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of the area. These walks act as a window to the past where you can learn what Seven Acres used to be used for, who owned the land and what products were created here throughout the industrial revolution.
All in all Seven Acres is a brilliant day out for all the family and has something for everyone. If you enjoy what you see, you can also volunteer with the Friends of Seven Acres and the Wildlife Trust who work hard to maintain the area for both the wildlife and public use. From what I’ve seen, the group are doing a brilliant job!
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Take care, and stay on the wild side.