Birmingham Nature Lovers: Plantsbrook Nature Reserve

Debra Jane is back with her Birmingham Nature Lovers series and this time has fallen in love with Plantsbrook Nature Reserve.

As I leaned on the viewing platform overlooking the lake, I watched bright blue dragonflies skimming daintily across the glistening water.  Swarms of tadpoles transformed from black to silver as, one by one, they left the shadow of an overhanging tree, and were illuminated by the sun kissed lake.  Gradually, they vanished beneath into the darkness beneath the flowering lily pads. 

Further on, a family of swans moved swiftly across the open expanse of water, steering themselves gracefully in our direction, perhaps hoping for a morsel of bread.  Instead, they were greeted by my camera, and my dog's eager, wagging tail.  At the latter, Daddy Swan started to hiss, so, we made good our departure and continued onwards.

Plantsbrook Local Nature Reserve is a haven.  Nestled between houses and an industrial estate, you would probably never know that it's there.  Indeed, I first heard about it from a fellow dog person, whilst walking Finn at Pype Hayes Park, which is just across the road.   There is a driveway that leads down towards the lakes, and a fair number of parking spaces, along with a small visitors centre which is a dark green portable cabin.  It was declared a nature reserve in 1991, and covers 26.49 acres of land.

To walk around the largest lake took us around 30 minutes (my Dad accompanied me on this one, as I'm recovering from a shoulder injury so can't drive at the moment thus, he is being my chauffeur- thanks Dad!).  The trails were a little muddy, yet that did not in any way (for me) detract from the experience.  Far from it!  It is such a beautiful place, that you could easily forget that you are just a few miles away from Birmingham city centre and the more built up inner city.  In fact, as much as I love Kingsbury Water Park, this has a more magical and intimate quality about it - less built up, less people, less commercial.

At certain points, you are walking along tree lined pathways that meander between lakes, and all you can hear are the cries of birds as they go about their daily business.  A heron took to flight too quickly for me to get to my camera (I could swear they have a sixth sense for these things).  A large white gull perched effortlessly on an old tree stump that protruded from the lake like ancient, withered arms, and wild flowers grew amongst the trees, providing a welcome splash of colour, in contrast to the many shades of green.  

A meadow, scattered with cheerful buttercups, lies between the car parks and one of the smaller lakes, provided an idyllic open area that left me wanting to take a picnic blanket and a bottle of something fizzy, and recline with a good book.  Who knows, maybe on another day, I shall.

Location: Plantsbrook Local Nature Reserve, Eachelhurst Road, Sutton Coldfield.

Parking: Along the side of the driveway, leading to the lakes

Facilities: Visitors centre, but no toilets or café.

By Bus: Route 839 stops along Eachelhurst Road.

Wheelchair Access: there are disabled spaces in the car park, but the site wouldn't be particularly easy for wheelchairs as the paths can be quite muddy and narrow in places.

Words and photos by Debra Jane who can be contacted on @debracreates  or read more on her website. What parks do you visit? Please add your recommendations below of tweets us on @BrumFaves