Brierley Forest Park
The park has been laid out over the yard and spoil heaps of the former Brierley Colliery, which closed in the early 1990s. It was called Brierley Colliery because many of the miners employed there when the mine was sunk, were from Brierley in the West Midlands. It was opened to the public as a country park in the summer of 1999.
It is now a Community Forest and a part of the Greenwood Forest. It is run by Ashfield District Council and has an active friends group.
Access and Facilities
The park is open 24hrs a day and the access and car parking are both free.
The two main access points are from Skegby Road, Huthwaite (signposted from Sutton Road – B6026) and from Brand Lane, Stanton Hill. Both of these entrances have car parking space. There are also several other pedestrian entrances especially from the Sutton-in-Ashfield direction.
The Visitor Centre is open daily (except Mondays) and has toilet facilities, leaflets and a limited range of refreshments.
Once in the park, access around the western end (where the Visitor Centre is), is easy and many of the paths in this part are wheelchair and pushchair friendly. The eastern end, aptly named Brierley Tops, where the spoil tip used to be, is definitely steep in parts. The map below shows the extent of Brierley Park marked in the paler colour.
The park covers some 250 acres (100 hectares). As expected, being an ex-pit site, most of the area is open grassland, especially on the old spoil heap, but there is also "young" woodland, old hedges and created meadows with Cowslips and manufactured wetland, plus the manicured grass of an adjacent golf course.
A new pond – Brierley Water – has to some extent replaced the original Brierley Pond which was lost underneath the spoil heap. Many of the newly planted trees are Birch, Oak and Alder. The Golf Course which is on the North side of the Country Park has a public footpath running through it. There are four SINCs in the park, designated for their plant life.
Over 50 bird species are recorded yearly. The usual species are present here, with breeding Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Yellow Hammers, Lesser Whitethroats, Grasshopper Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Open grassland on old pit-tips provides the best type of habitat in Nottinghamshire for breeding Skylarks.
Winter is the best time for the rarer birds, these include Stonechats (which are regular), Mediterranean Gull (December 2000), Iceland Gull (2002), Water Rail (December 2000, early 2002), Short eared Owl (2000, 2001).The gulls would probably be associated with the Huthwaite tip.
Brierley water holds good numbers of Mute Swans and in winter loafing Gulls. The golf course can have migrating pipits and wagtails, and can be scanned from the footpath which intersects it. The hedges on the north side of the country park, near to Stubbing Hill farm have Willow Tits amongst other species. The farm itself has several pasture fields around it.
Water Voles exist in the area. The various types of habitat, such as wetland, grassland, old hedgerows and sown wildflower meadows give rise to a wide variety of plants. Some species are Marsh Orchid, Cowslips, Yellow-rattle and Ox-eye Daisies.
- Ordnance Survey map reference: SK472 595
- Land Ranger Sheet 120
- OS Street Atlas, page 100
Updated 12th September 2011
Any criticisms, corrections or comments to the author Derek Huskisson
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