This summer, Fairburn Ings is celebrating its 60th year as a designated nature reserve, and is asking all visitors, old and new, to share their experiences and memories of the site.
In 1957, thanks to the efforts of campaigning local naturalists, what was once a coal mine was designated and protected as a nature reserve. It is now one of the biggest and most biodiverse in Yorkshire.
Over the years, under the RSPB's management, staff and volunteers have put wildlife first and seen the site develop even further as an extremely important rest site for migrating birds. It is also a brilliant place for children to learn about the natural world, and thousands of children have had valuable wildlife experiences here: from pond dipping to bug hunting and even camping out at the yearly Big Wild Sleepout, memories are always to be made at Fairburn Ings.
Abbie Sellers, Visitor Experience Officer, said: "Fairburn Ings is a truly magical place. Developed from what once looked like a mining moonscape, the wildlife attracted to here is brilliant. However, the buzz you feel around the discovery trail and visitor centre is really inspiring. Children clanking pond dipping nets and the squeals of excitement of den making really are the first nature memories they won't forget."
The memories collected through this project will create a new totem pole installation on the reserve's Coal Tips trail. Whether it is a recollection of working as part of the old mining industry, or feeding the ducks as a child - all memories are important.
From July onwards there will be a display in the visitor centre as part of the celebration, with blank memory cards for visitors to fill in. These cards will be then displayed in the centre. The memories don't need to be old, or even unusual - just special to each visitor.
There will also be a series of guided walks - 'From the Coal Face to a Wild Place'. The next will be on 24 June, at 1pm. This walk will be full of fascinating history of the site, and will encourage visitors to share their memories.
For more information, visit www.rspb.org.uk/fairburnings or follow the reserve on Facebook (RSPB West Yorks - Fairburn Ings & St Aidan's) or Twitter (@RSPBAireValley).