North Wales Wildlife Trust’s Minera Quarry Reserve was officially opened on Saturday 2nd June 2018 by Mike Dilger, BBC One Wildlife Presenter.
In 2005 members of Minera Community Council (MCC) expressed concerns that nothing had been done with the old quarry since the closure on December 24th 1993. It was feared persons that didn’t have the best interests of the community at heart would acquire ownership and this wonderful site would be lost forever. It had been used for the enjoyment of nature lovers, cavers, walkers and archaeologists for many years.
It was decided to publicise an open meeting for anyone with an interest in the quarry, to be held in the top room of the Tyn y Capel. The meeting was well attended by people with various interests, not least the Wildlife Trust.
Cllr J Edwards chaired the first meeting and a subsequent meeting at the City Arms.
A Minera Quarry Trust (MQT) was formed with Shirley Davies as the chairperson. Applications for grants were applied for and a feasibility study was carried out. In later years, while the MCC still supported the aims and ambitions of MQT individuals did not get involved so that there could not be a conflict between their role as Councillors and members of an organisation seeking support from the Community Council. MCC would like to recognise and commend both MQT and NWWT for all their efforts.
Minera Quarry is a disused quarry of c.50ha near Minera, Coedpoeth, Gwynfryn and Wrexham. With an industrial history spanning over 200 years, this site is arguably as important culturally as it is for wildlife. Originally mined for its lead and later quarried for valuable limestone, this quarry was active until 1994. Parts of the quarry have regenerated naturally and now host many rare and threatened habitats and species, as well as industrial heritage (incorporating banks of disused lime kilns and the Hoffmann Kiln complex: both Scheduled Ancient Monuments) and an impressive system of natural limestone caves. Following negotiations with then owners Tarmac, and with support from Minera Quarry Trust, North Wales Wildlife Trust took on Minera Quarry in 2017. The area is now a thriving nature reserve and safe for people to enjoy.
From the accessible car park, you are entering the oldest part of the quarry workings, where woodland has long since established. In the dappled sunlight of the woodland you’ll discover five remarkably intact kilns and several now-secured cave entrances. Rare species of bats, such as lesser horseshoe, Natterer’s and brown long-eared bats roost in the kilns and caves found here.
As you leave the woodland shade behind and enter the main area of the quarry, where the site was most recently worked, you will be presented with an enormous expanse of grassland and bare ground. Every year volunteers work tirelessly to prevent scrub encroaching this habitat and to halt successional processes. In the summer months, their hard work pays off as the lime-rich grassland is filled with vibrant colours, where you can find ten species of orchids and many other limestone specialist wildflowers flourishing. These flowers provide nectar for a staggering variety of insects, many of which nest in the gravely, bare ground and grassland of the quarry floor. Towards the middle of the reserve you will also find a beautiful pond teeming with life. From here, the open quarry faces appear looming and stark, but these provide nesting habitat for ravens and raptors. Make sure to scan the skies for birds of prey spiraling on the thermals including buzzards, red kites, sparrowhawks, kestrels, and even peregrine falcons.
The next chapter in Minera Quarry’s lifetime is starting now. You may have noticed a recent partial collapse of one of the reserve’s kilns. We are working with Minera Quarry Trust and Cadw to stabilise this and make it safe. In the future we hope to be able to rebuild it to its former glory. Additionally, we have received a substantial grant from National Grid’s Landscape Enhancement Initiative (LEI). With support from project partners the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, this LEI-funded “Hidden from View” project will allow us to do a significant amount of work over the next three years to enhance the landscape from habitat management work to access improvements for visitors.
These positive works are happening now. With the help of dedicated volunteers, we have already created several woodland glades along the path of the old Berwig railway line, which connects the reserve to Minera village. Over the remainder of the project you will see many more changes, including the removal of the non-native, looming Leylandii trees adjacent to the car park, improving access to the reserve, and enhancing visibility of the reserve’s fantastic industrial architecture, to name but a few! For both regulars and first-time visitors alike, why not explore Minera Quarry today and witness the next chapter of this epic reserve unfold.
Please note that horses graze the reserve for several months throughout the year. Please keep your dogs on lead when visiting so as not to frighten or potentially harm these spectacular animals.
For more information about North Wales Wildlife Trust and Minera Quarry Reserve, visit https://www.northwaleswildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserves/minera-quarry
For more information on National Grid’s Landscape Enhancement Initiative, visit https://lei.nationalgrid.com/.