This week sees several changes to access arrangements at Minsmere, some permanent, others temporary.
First the good news. North Wall finally reopens fully on Friday 3 February following the completion of the Environment Agency flood defence project. Apart from a couple of weeks over Christmas, this path has been closed since August while the EA have upgraded our coastal defences to protect Minsmere's important freshwater habitats. The EA have been completing a few final bits of work this week, and have some more checks to do early next week. We have an officail opening ceremony on Friday morning, and then it's all systems go. Once open, this path will give us full access around the Scrape again.
The second bit of good news is that from Wednesday 1 February we switch back to summer opening - i.e. the visitor centre is open until 5 pm. Of course, this is the temporary building until the redevelopment work is completed in late March, but it does give you an extra hour for shopping after you visit. Talking of the redevelopment, the scaffoldign has come down from the new reception building, and the roof is on the new Discovery Centre, so things are going well.
Now for news of a closure. Our popular reedbed trail will close on Monday. This route has given visitors some excellent views of bearded tits over the winter, but with the breeding season fast approaching it's time we left them and the bitterns in peace. I'm sure we'll open a similar route again next autumn.
The North Bushes trail remains open for now, but that too will have to close before the breeding season starts. The temporary woodland trail also remains open.
The wardens will be carrying out some essential managment work at Island Mere on Monday morning that may create a bit of disturbance for a few hours. This work is necessary to further improve viewing opportunities from the hide, and create ideal condtions for feeding bitterns, snipe and lapwings.
Please be aware, too, that there will be some temporary paths from the car park onto the reserve for a time during February while we install some new displays and signs along the current ramp. The temporary arrangements will be well signposted and should not affect your visit.
Thanks for your patience during this time of change.