Exploring Rodley Nature Reserve

Last weekend I visited some friends in Rodley, West Yorkshire. It was a well timed visit as I had been having a difficult week, not least because my cat had been ill and various things around the house had simultaneously decided to stop working. In between a nice meal and a few pints in a local pub, my friends and I took the time to go to Rodley Nature Reserve. This is a tranquil stretch of wetlands that is home to a variety of insect, animal and plant life. There are plenty of small wooden huts to sit and watch all the wildlife from and paths for walks through the different areas.

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As the Nature Reserve is close to both the River Aire and to Leeds Liverpool canal, there are pools of water both big and small. I love being near the water – which is odd really considering I have never been able to learn to swim, despite repeated efforts – and some of these were wonderful to sit and look across.

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There are also some quite gorgeous areas of open land, filled with wildflowers. I love places like this. Open spaces which make me feel a mixture of freedom and melancholy. A sense being apart from the world and yet seeing its hidden places.

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The wetlands reminded of the marshes from Great Expectations but also made me think of landscapes where nature is reclaiming space from the works of mankind. There was a sense of vulnerability too, a reminder of how important it is that we preserve places like this from our worst and most selfish instincts.

The metal towers in the middle of the reserve seemed to have a character of their own in this context. They were almost like a distant outpost of humanity. Their starkness had a sense of drama and mystery, as well as being a reminder that this is a place where people are working to protect the natural world. This is after an artificially created stretch of land but once which harbours life in many forms.

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Exploring the nature reserve was a great and relaxing way to spend an Autumn afternoon. The landscape has taken on a little of the darkness of the season and yet this, I think, adds to its charm. I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to see it in Winter snow in January. I’m always grateful for the hard work of people – often volunteers – that goes into maintaining a place like this. I’m glad it’s there to explore, watch and enjoy.

I’m also happy to report that the cat is back to full health and woke me up at 5 in the morning the following day for a hearty breakfast.

Damian

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