March in the Three Brooks nature reserve

Photo of people tobogganing on the Tump.

An update from Sara Messenger of Bradley Stoke’s Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group.


I’m not sure who were the most excited to see the snow, the children or the dogs! Although for many, both two- and four-legged visitors, this was the first time they had seen proper snow, and they were all determined to make the most of it.

While Juniper Way and the community orchard (behind Bradley Stoke Community School) both have small slopes, the Tump slope proved the most popular, and it was heaving with squealing youngsters trying out their toboggans. We were pleased to see parents standing in front of the boulders at the bottom to avoid any crashes, and to my knowledge the only thing that got hurt was the parents’ pride when racing their kids to the bottom and being soundly beaten. No names mentioned!

We were really pleased to see that, unlike other places, our reserve was not left littered with rubbish and broken toboggans, so either the litter fairy cleared it all away or we have much more considerate residents here in Bradley Stoke – you’re all greatly appreciated. By the way, a set of car keys was found on Juniper Way; are they yours?

For the first time in 12 years I cancelled our weekly Green Gym. Stepping outside to be greeted by -13°C gusts, knee-deep drifts of snow and a car that wouldn’t start, I was persuaded that maybe we should give this one a miss. Harry and I had attended a first aid course the night before, but it didn’t cover frostbite, so I think it was a wise decision. Well done to Frank though, who didn’t see the early email and battled his way through only to realise that the rest of us were wussies!

Our Saturday workday was also affected, as it wasn’t possible to coppice trees in deep snow, so we took a walk around the reserve, clearing patches of snow and putting down seed for the birds. Our swans Brooke and Nugget were also fed; we thought of breaking the ice so they could get to the bench, but they managed to find us so we left it and then adjourned to the pub to thaw out.

We were a bit concerned to see very small (children’s) footprints on the ice on the newt pond though. Our ponds can be quite deep and, judging by the hole, the ice wasn’t thick enough to support the child’s weight. Fortunately, it looked as though only a foot went through, but it’s something we’d suggest they don’t try again.


We noticed that the viewing platform at the lake had been damaged again. The lower rails had been removed, which meant anyone could slip through into the lake, so this was reported and has since been repaired.

The weir cover, which was previously removed, still has a temporary cover, but we’re hoping that it will be replaced with a more secure padlocked metal plate soon.

Our ‘Run England’ sign (near the leisure centre) was so badly vandalised it had to be removed completely. Unfortunately, the company that produced it are no longer trading, so we don’t know when it will return.

We are again being plagued with graffiti. I’m not going to call them graffiti artists as that suggests they have some semblance of talent, which as they can only spray swear words and crude pictures, shows that they have none. Every instance of graffiti is reported to the police and the town council and the cost of its removal is logged. When they’re caught, they are going to be landed with quite a hefty bill! If you see any please let us know as soon as possible on our dedicated email address and we can deal with it. Photos are vital as evidence, so please email those to us too. We’d prefer them not to go on Facebook as we don’t want to advertise their ‘art’.

There are lots of things we would like to do to improve the reserve, including the provision of more seating and a play area for smaller children, but each time I suggest it, we look at the vandalism we have and think,“Is there any point?” as it wouldn’t last. It is hugely demoralising to see our efforts constantly trashed, but the reserve itself and the steady stream of people who stop to say, “Well done, you’re doing a grand job,” have persuaded us that, despite all the setbacks, it is still a job worth doing and one that we take great pride in. So I’m afraid you’re stuck with us for a while yet!

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Photo: Tobogganing on a slope of the Tump, behind Bradley Stoke Community School.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 10 & 11). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,200 homes in Bradley Stoke and Little Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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