Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Byron's Pool

Byron's Pool, near Cambridge, is named after the poet, Lord Byron, who is believed to have enjoyed swimming here while studying at Trinity College. The area is marked on old maps as "Old Mills" and may well have been the site of the mill mentioned in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales". More recently it was where we rode our bicycles as children and  as teenagers ventured on our punt.

The pool where Byron swam

Nowadays it's managed as a local nature reserve and has recently undergone a major make-over. Since I've known and loved the area for so long I was concerned at what might have been done; I've seen lots of good habitat destroyed in attempts to make reserves more user-friendly - where the "user" is the human visitor rather than the wildlife.

I needn't have worried. Given that the purpose of a local nature reserve is to serve many different requirements there seems to be an admirable balance achieved. Picnic tables are situated in a flowery meadow near to the entrance to the woodland which runs alongside the River Cam.

Platforms have been built for the anglers but they also make excellent vantage points to view the river - dragonflies were in abundance and a kingfisher flashed by.

The fish-run

A fish-run has been constructed so that fish can by-pass the weir which used to block their way upstream, it already has produced an increase in fish in the upper river and despite the amount of earth-moving that was required the vegetation is rapidly returning.

The path, once uneven and muddy enough to make an exciting track for our bikes, is now accessible to wheelchair-users but elsewhere the woodland retains its wild nature. You could still make a bit of a bike track and it looks as though some of the local lads have done just that!

The wildlife doesn't seem to have been frightened away by the work that's been going on and I was pleased to come across the nest of wild honeybees in a fallen tree. 

Take care.


  1. Hi, John,
    I've just spent a pleasant half hour getting acquainted with your blog. Your posts take me to the sort of places I would choose to visit if I could travel to England. Touring cities is exhausting and stressful, wherever in the world the city might be. Far better, I think, to find the byways and country places, the gardens and quiet spots. I see that no ones' "follower" feature is working, but I've added you to my "favorites" so that I can return.

  2. This looks like a great place and it's good that a balance has been achieved with the make over!

    In reply to your comment, it really is a confusion of guinea fowl! I always have to look them up as there are so many, I often forget which word goes with which animal!

    This looks like a very intersting more and I look forward to learning more about Cambridgeshire in future posts!


  3. What a lovely place! And so good that the right balance was achieved for all that use the area!

  4. This looks a delightful place that Byron might well still recognize:) There are quite a few 'managers' of nature reserves who could learn from what has been done here.

  5. I would totally sit at that table, my feet up and read a book! Looks so relaxing and quiet. Lovely post, John!

  6. What I didn't mention is that it's a really small area which makes it even more of an achievement to fit in so many uses. The purpose of these local reserves is to tempt as many of the nearby residents as possible away from their TVs and out into the countryside. I hope they succeed in their aim.

  7. Finding the bees is superb! Not everyone would notice that.

  8. This looks a delightful spot now. The bees nest is amazing.


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