Springing into action at Burnhill Education Centre

Anne Porter Heart of Durham, Heart of Durham Blog, News

Burnhill Education Centre is an oasis in a bleak moorland setting. The small wooden hut hidden from view, used by visiting schools, hunkers down in a grassy moorland dip sheltered from easterly winds by a fir plantation. Above the hut a series of ponds and boardwalks provide school children, from Tow Law and beyond, an experience of the wild, with activities such as pond dipping willow weaving and insect watching as in the summer months the grassy swards come alive with their buzz as they feed on the abundance of nectar plants. Durham Wildlife Trust’s Heart of Durham Project works alongside the owner, Russell Bell, as this is a wonderful site for the small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly as marsh violets abound in the wetter areas.

On Friday the 28th of April, Heart of Durham volunteers helped to get the site ready for the summer school visits.

A series of plastic pilings were installed to improve the pond depth by holding back the water in the pond


The higher water levels will allow for a new pond dipping platform to be installed


The new pond dipping platform begins to take shape

DWT’s Heart of Durham volunteers get ready to hang the gate on the newly installed gate post


…and the gate is ready for use


Wildflower seeds planted by the Tow Law Beaver group are pricked out. These wildflower plugs will be planted on the site by school children in the coming weeks.



An old clay pigeon shooting tower was dismantled and some of the wood recycled for the pond dipping platform, whilst the base of the tower was made into a waist-high planting bench


Water crowfoot abundant in the gullies is a botanists find


The tiny Moonwort plant (Botrychium lunaria) is also found hidden in the grass adjacent to the site


…..as well as wonderful clumps of primroses

A new bug hotels begins to take shape

The new bug hotel is close to completion. Local school children will spend a morning collecting material to fill it, making it ready for invertebrates, small mammals and reptiles.

A big thank you goes to Durham Wildlife Trust’s Heart of Durham Volunteers for a great day’s work. Get involved – email aporter@durhamwt.co.uk or complete our online volunteer form.

Anne Porter

Anne Porter initially joined the Heart of Durham project as a volunteer, helping to carry out adder surveys on an 8-week placement as part of a post-graduate degree in Environmental Management. Anne’s dedication and enthusiasm for her work continues to inspire people of all ages to get involved nature conservation.