Apprentices from Western Power Distribution gave their time volunteering at Somerset Wildlife Trust’s spectacular Black Rock Nature Reserve on the Mendip Hills from July 7 to 11, to help rejuvenate the nature trails and improve access for visitors.
West Mendip Reserve Manager Neil Watson led 35 apprentices in replacing around 300 steps and installing four new kissing gates to aid the public in exploring the area more widely.
Updating public access at Black Rock
Participants in the Western Power Distribution (WPD) Technical Apprenticeship Scheme spend a week annually undertaking a community-based project. In the past, apprentices have volunteered at both the Trust’s Langford Heathfield Nature Reserve and Catcott Complex Nature Reserves.
Somerset Wildlife Trust West Mendip Reserve Manager Neil Watson said: “Public access is currently being updated and improved at Black Rock, so when Western Power Distribution approached the Trust again this year it seemed a good project for the apprentices to take on. We look forward to launching the new nature trail at a pop-up event to be held on August 2 and 3.”
Apprentices benefit the local community
Phil Thorne, WPD Training Manager, said: “We like to give our apprentices an early opportunity to manage a project that will benefit the local community while gaining some essential team-building skills and individual confidence. This type of project will leave a lasting reminder for many years of their hard work for visitors to enjoy.”
Black Rock is part of the Cheddar Complex Nature Reserve and boasts views across Mendip’s incredible Cheddar Gorge. A combination of woodland and limestone grassland, the site supports a variety of important plants and is home to numerous species, including peregrine falcons, horseshoe bats, butterflies and dormice. It is a valuable Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Having completed the tasks at Black Rock the apprentices went on to assist Brue Valley Reserves Manager Mark Blake with the construction of a boardwalk at Catcott Complex Nature Reserve.
The Black Rock Nature Reserve pop-up event, on August 2 and 3, is free and open to the public with members of the Magnificent Meadows team on hand to help explore the grassland. Access is off Cheddar George; to visit Black Rock Nature Reserve go to somersetwildlife.org/reserves.