Now visitors arriving by car will find plenty of parking spaces in the newly created car park and visitor entrance.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust, who owns the nature reserve, has also created an accessible walkway linking the new car park to the original entrance to Smardale Gill only 300 metres away on the other side of Smardale village.
The new car park is part of a project to link two of Cumbia Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves together, Smardale Gill and Waitby Greenriggs, now known collectively as Smardale Nature Reserve. The linking land was purchased thanks to a very generous donation from Michael and Elizabeth Lamb of Orton. The whole of Smardale Nature Reserve now extends from Newbiggin-on-Lune almost as far as Kirkby Stephen and lies within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The new car park was made possible thanks to grants from LEADER, YDNPA sustainability fund and the Eden Community Fund.The plans don’t stop there. The new car park will also feature railway-style cabins, to link it to its railway heritage, where visitors can find information explaining the beautiful wildlife that can be seen at Smardale Nature Reserve, such as the unusual Scotch argus butterfly, orchids and red squirrels. A red squirrel feeding station and rope bridge will be built behind the visitor cabins which will act as a hide, giving people the chance to see this iconic Cumbrian species close up.
David Harpley, Conservation Manager at Cumbria Wildlife Trust said: “Smardale Nature Reserve is an important wildlife habitat. It is one of the only two sites in England home to the Scotch argus butterfly, red squirrels forage for hazelnuts here and there are 200 plant species including rare and beautiful orchids. The new car park and visitor information will make it much easier and more enjoyable for people to access the nature reserve.”
A new leaflet about the reserve has also been published and can be picked up at the nature reserve or from Upper Eden Visitor Centre.