Animal sculptures, detailed story boards and a bug hotel are among the features of a multi-use nature trail in Thornton le Dale.
On top of fundraising efforts by the 160 Village Hub volunteers, £4,100 was provided by North Yorkshire County Councillor Janet Sanderson, member for Thornton Dale and the Wolds division, from her Environmental Locality Budget.
Along the trail visitors will find tree carvings depicting the birds and wildlife around the pond as well as boxes for hedgehogs, birds and bats. The local newsagent is offering booklets and maps.
A QR mobile app has also being designed to enable people to read the scripts as they go round by putting in the code on various stations.
Roger Sharples and Denise Rajab from the Village Hub were pivotal to the efforts to set up the nature reserve. Along with volunteers, they held fundraising events ranging from litter picks to coffee mornings.
“The scheme is part of a wider project around the pond, which was looking neglected and was filled with rubbish,” said Roger. “Volunteers took it upon themselves to clear the area, plant new wildflowers and put compost heaps in place.
“The trail came to light as an initiative to get children interested in nature and the environment. There is a new performance area at the end of the trail, which is ideal for school groups, and a pond dipping area is popular with those with visual impairments.”
In line with Thornton le Dale’s Yorkshire in Bloom application, volunteers have planted 6,000 bulbs, painted railings and organised litter picks.
Roger added: “I can’t thank the hub volunteers and residents of Thornton le Dale enough for all their hard work. I hope the nature trail is enjoyed by visitors and residents alike.”
New interpretive boards filled with interactive activities are to be put up in the near future.
“The picturesque village of Thornton le Dale is a popular tourist spot for people of all ages and one of the best-loved sights in the National Park,” said Councillor Sanderson.
“The trail has taken a lot of planning, with its designers keen to make it accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The whole place is buzzing with excitement from volunteers and residents who can’t wait to see people making use of it.”
County Councillor Jim Clark, chairman of the County Council, attended the opening ceremony. He added: “I was delighted to take a look around the trail, which is a great investment in our community. I would like to thank all of the volunteers who made this possible and for their hard work in maintaining the reserve for the future.”
The Environmental Locality Budget enables every County Councillor to respond to local needs by recommending the allocation of small amounts of funding to support projects and activities that directly promote the social, economic or environmental wellbeing of communities within their division.