New Educational Resources uploaded!

The CVCG are delighted to announce that following an extensive review and with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund within our Flowers in the Vale project, new educational resources are now available to download. The resource has primarily been created with the purpose of encouraging more schools to bring children to the Reserve and benefit from all that it has to offer.

A total of 18 Activity sheets are available, to assist childrens’ outdoor engagement with the natural environment in Early Learning, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. The activities can be applied in many educational outdoor environments, not just at Clara Vale.

All of the educational material can be accessed from under the ‘Visiting the Reserve’ tab and going to ‘Educational Visit Resources’.

Here are links to the individual resource elements:

If you would like to get in touch about arranging and educational visit please use the contact form on the Planning Your Visit page.

Family Picnic – tomorrow!

The weather is looking promising for the weekend and the Conservation Group are looking forward to welcoming you to our fun family event on Sunday 17th!

What’s on?
11:00 – Moths! See what we caught the previous night, before we release them.
11:30 & 2:00 – Hand scythe demonstrations – how we cut crops by hand before machinery.
1:30 – Guided Flower Walk around the Reserve.
2:30 – Children’s storytime (2 stories)

Guided bird watching in the hides
Pond dipping
Kite making
Painting and drawing area

Organised by the volunteers of the village Conservation Group, this event is part of our Flowers in the Vale project, an initiative to encourage more local people to appreciate, enjoy and engage with our fantastic local nature resource.

Come and support us this Sunday, 11 till 3 !

Survey Results

The Conservation Group committee was pleased at the outcome of the small survey that we recently undertook, on the use of the nature reserve.

Respondents said they enjoyed the peace and quiet, nature and wildlife in the Reserve. Photography and walking are also key reasons to visit.

Improvements in access and paths were the most popular changes that people would like to see. People also wanted to know about other walks and activities in the area, along with more information about wildlife and what you can expect to see when you visit the Reserve.

The recent funding from the Flowers in the Vale project has helped with new gates for the Reserve, which offer better access for people with buggies or wheelchairs. Going forward we will be looking for new funding opportunities to help improve the paths.

The feedback about wildlife information and walks will be useful when we update the leaflet about the Reserve.

Thanks to everyone who took part!

Groundworks update

Following on from the fencing work undertaken in January, Conservation Group members have been clearing the newly designated meadow area of scrub, shrubs and low level tree growth.  This is why you will see piles of cut branches, twigs and bramble around the Reserve.


There is quite alot of this debris around the site at the moment; some of this will be left or moved to create ground habitats, some will be reserved for charcoal-making at a later date, and some will be safely burnt off.  Over the next few weeks we will be strimming down the top layer of the new meadow area to give meadow-loving plants a chance to get established without quicker growing plants competing for light and nutrients.

If you are interested in joining in, come along to our next meeting (14th March in the Clara Vale Village Hall at 7pm) or keep an eye on our Upcoming Events section of the website and come along on a task day (which is usually a couple of hours). No special skills required!

We Want Your Feedback !

We are interested to hear your views about how you use the Nature Reserve to help us shape its future and here is your the opportunity to tell us. Just complete the survey by clicking the link below, it will take just a couple of minutes. You don’t have to give any personal details.

We are running the Survey until the end of March 2016 and will report back soon after on feedback received.

Clara Vale Nature Reserve User Survey



New Fencing and Gates

Contractors have just about finished the new perimeter and paddock field fencing in the Reserve, the infrastructure element of the Flowers in the Vale project.  New, wider access gates have also been installed, along with a stock pen.

Whilst the galvanised gates may look bright against the wood while new, they will weather and dull down over time.  Compacted ground where machinery has been working will also recover as we enter the Spring and Summer.


Work Gets Under Way…

Visitors to the Reserve today may have been slightly surprised to hear the cracking of timber and seeing a group of people busy sawing some of the smaller trees.

The purpose of this is to clear the fence line around the Reserve, to allow access for machinery which will be used to put in new fencing as part of the Flowers in the Vale project.  Most likely this will happen in late February/early March.

Fence line clearing - Clara Vale Nature Reserve

About half the fence line was cleared today and we have another session coming up on Sunday 7th February. If you’d like to join in, just turn up at the Reserve entrance at 10am. Allow a couple of hours, tools provided. Someone may even bring a flask of coffee!

Newsletter – January 2016

The CVCG has won a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to improve and restore the grassland in the Reserve. The bid was made on our behalf through Gateshead Council. For more information visit our Flowers in the Vale page.

As part of the project, we will be updating the education pack for local schools and plan to survey visitors who use the Reserve. This new website has been created to satisfy one of the grant conditions, namely to make information about the Reserve more widely available. All the latest information about what is happening will be published here.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is over the weekend 30th-31st January. If you participate in Clara Vale, please keep a copy of what you see and drop it off to Gordon at 1, Edington Gardens. The RSPB only publishes the results of the survey for the county. It would be interesting to see what is happening here if you can watch your own garden birds, but if you can’t the Hides in the Reserve will be watched on Sunday 31st from 10-11 am. Come along and help. Be there for 9.45 for a brief introduction to the Garden Birdwatch.

The mild weather has meant it has been quiet in the Reserve with very few of the winter birds we usually see but the feeding stations are still worth visiting. Deer have been seen regularly from them and a kingfisher continues to visit. A green woodpecker surprised a birdwatcher when it perched on one of the sticks in the pond meant for the kingfishers.

If you want to see a great winter wildlife spectacle, go down to Shibdon Pond in Blaydon where tens of thousands of starlings gather to roost in the reeds. If there’s not too much wind or rain, most nights they perform a murmuration, before roosting. It’s a sight not to be missed. Get there about 3.45 as the flock builds. They’re going to roost around 4.15-4-30.

Heritage Lottery Fund Success!

The Clara Vale Conservation Group are delighted to announce that a grant has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery fund for an exciting project within the Nature Reserve:

This project is led by Gateshead Council with full support from Clara Vale Conservation Group. Through fun community events and volunteer opportunities we seek to enthuse the village and wider community to become involved in restoring part of the nature reserve to a traditional hay meadow, gaining grassland management skills that will help sustain its future, while learning about the importance of this threatened habitat to flora and fauna.

People will have opportunities to participate in a range of volunteer activities including: scrub clearance, seed and green hay collection and distribution, hay cutting and collecting, flora and fauna surveys as well as having fun while learning at a meadow picnic event.

Infrastructure will be put in to allow traditional after grazing of the meadow areas by rare conservation breeds, while still allowing public access, including wheel chairs and buggies.

Information on how to get involved in the project, plus an education pack and guide to the reserve will be digitally produced and made available on this website.