Bestwood Country Park is situated in North Nottinghamshire 4 miles north of the Nottingham City Centre, on the rural-urban fringe.

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Bestwood Country Park is situated in North Nottinghamshire 4 miles north of the Nottingham City Centre, on the rural-urban fringe. The Park contains approximately 650 acres of varied countryside land and is boarded in part by housing estates, which in itself is a rarity as it is very unusual to find a site of such ecological quality on the edge of a large city. It is very accessible form Nottingham city and its communities as well as neighbouring counties. Below I have displayed two maps, one of the area and the other of the region.


The map above shows Bestwood Park in relation to the East Midlands and the M1. As you can see from the above, Bestwood Park not only serves the local population, but is accessible from elsewhere via the M1 motorway, and can therefore attract from a greater population.  

Bestwood Park was formerly part of Sherwood Forest, a wide expanse of habitats including heath woodland and pastures. Before Bestwood Park was created the land was a royal hunting estate, used by many English kings and dukes. The landscape of this area was dramatically changed, when in the 19th century Duke of St Albans granted a lease on his land to the Bestwood Iron and Coal Colliery Company. This was the start of the mining industry. The village of Bestwood was created to house the workers. In 1939 the estate was sold to the army, who created the housing estates that surround the park today. Eventually in 1985 Nottingham County Council and Gedling Borough Council purchased the land and created Bestwood Country Park, as we know it today. The colliery closed in 1967, but there is still lots of evidence of this industry such as; the impressive Winding Engine house which still stands.

Bestwood Park, as we see it today, is free of charge and open from dawn to dusk every day of the year. It is a very popular recreational and educational facility as well as being an area with extreme ecological and landscape quality. It is used by locals, some of whom use it for exercising animals, horse riding, walking and many other leisure activities. The park provides many facilities such as the conservation area, lakes, field study centre and picnic area. Bestwood is a venue of events all year round including kite flying and themed camping weekends.

Bestwood Country Park has many aims and purposes. The basic purpose is to ‘promote access by the community to experience and enjoy the countryside’. The park also tries to promote the park as a recreational and educational resource as well as trying to ‘maintain and enhance the ecological and landscape value of the Country Park for this and future generations’. The park employs a team of rangers who contribute heavily to the management, conservation and public safety of the park as well as events and education. Below is a pie chart showing the time allocation of the park rangers. (Information supplied by park rangers)


This pie chart shows that The Country Park Ranger Service involves the rangers taking an active role in fulfilling the aims. It is interesting to note that over 50% of the park rangers time is spent on activities relating to the public use of the park, (i.e. information, education, events and social inclusion). The rangers form a link between the place and people, balancing the needs of visitors and local people against those of the landscape and environment. This role is very diverse, so the rangers need to be good communicators who act as catalysts to make things happen.

There is not enough funding from the council at the moment to complete many projects which the park management would like to undertake. There are many volunteers who raise money even for simple tasks such as, placing more cased information boards and signage. In addition there are volunteers who support the work of the rangers in the conservation and management of the park. At the present a member of the public, together with support from the rangers, are trying to raise enough money to re-instate an adventure playground. The previous one became out of date and was unsafe and was therefore taken down. One of the other contributory factors for the unsafe nature of the playground was vandalism. Vandalism is a constant problem for the rangers, and care has to taken when introducing anything new to the park. Vandalism is evident from the signage and graffiti and is accounted for by the proximity of the park to neighbouring housing estates.

The park attracts approximately 400,000 visitors per year (although likely to be higher due to unofficial entrances.) The figure is a lot less than many other similar parks in the East Midlands and I have displayed these figures in a bar graph below.

This bar graph shows that in comparison to the other parks in the area Bestwood has a relatively low number of visitors. Bestwood is also has a considerably lower number of visitors compared with the other parks in Nottinghamshire which themselves have the largest visitor numbers in the East Midlands. This is probably due to the fact that money is not invested in marketing and publicity of the park. The park is totally un-commercial, which is unique, however this adds to the attractiveness of the park for many who visit, and it enables the park to remain a natural environment. Country Parks are also comparable in terms of the quality of countryside, and it is unlikely that any other parks listed would be able to claim a similar extensive range and diversity of countryside and habitat.

I have also looked and compared the figure from Bestwood Park with some local theme parks in the area. Alton towers receives over 1 million visitors per year, which is very high, other parks in the area such as Drayton Manor Park and American Adventure receive over 800,000. These numbers are high, especially when you consider that on average they are only open from early spring to late autumn, which is only ¾ of how long country parks are open for. These figures tell me that theme parks have a much greater number of visitors per year, and that therefore they are more economically successful. Although, it is hard to compare a country park and a theme park as they have a totally different genre to work to, together with different aims and objectives, comparing Bestwood to a theme park can give us a good idea about the difference in the types of park and what economic benefits theme parks have over country parks.

Tourism is part of Nottinghamshire’s economy and is one of the fastest growing industries. There is increasing awareness of the economic benefits of tourism and leisure particularly in Nottinghamshire where the mining industry has declined. Parks such as Bestwood contribute to this, but as the figures above show it does not contribute as greatly as other country parks do and the figures are very small compared with local theme parks. Below is a map including pictograms showing full time job equivalents and tourist spending in the East Midlands.

This map shows that there appears to be a high relationship between the level of tourist spending and the number of people employed in the tourist industry. Therefore we can assume that by providing the opportunity for tourist spending it would correspondingly increase the level of employment.

Bestwood Park is remarkable in that it contains many essential ecosystems, and within that a wide range of habitats of significant ecological and landscape value on a very accessible site. These habitats include woodland and heath, grassland, formal gardens, ponds, lakes, rivers and wet pastures as well as reclaimed post-industrial land. This quality and variety of habitats produces an extraordinary rich and diverse range of wildlife, vegetation and animals. Bestwood Park contains 8 of the nationally key habitats listed in the UK and holds 7 ‘Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation’. Included within its 650 acres of grounds are just about all the different types of countryside to be found in the county. Bestwood Park is different to other Country Parks in many ways. It is not as distinct as urban parkland and it is kept as close to ‘natural’ countryside as possible. I have shown a plan/map of the park on appendix 1.

This plan of the park shows the deceptive, unusual size of Bestwood Park, and the many conservation areas within it. With the many habitats that Bestwood Park contains, there are consequently large food webs and conservation is very important. There are 4 main habitats included in the park; the wetlands, the woodlands, the grasslands and heathland. These each contribute to the many ecosystems which are present.

The wetlands are a very important habitat found in Bestwood Park. The River Lean runs through the park, and there are many species of conservation interest to be found in and around its water. Wildlife such as the native white-clawed crayfish, brook lamprey, mayfly, and stonefly larvae are present along the banks and in the water. These species, especially the native white-clawed crayfish and brook lamprey are important to the parks ecosystems as they are rare. It is also one of the few stretches of water nationally where water voles are still abundant. Within Bestwood Park’s boundaries lies the largest reed bed on the River Lean containing many species of interest and rarity. Although reed beds alone are not often considered to have significant habitat variation species, they contain a number of features used by different plants and animals. Reed beds are especially important for birds, and Bestwood is important as a swallow roost in the winter months. It also plays a host to water vole, water shrews and harvest mice. Included in Bestwood Park are The Mill Lakes. These are a stretch of the River Lean that was artificially dammed in the 1970’s to create a large amount of standing water. It is surrounded by areas of tree plantations which are now becoming mature and are important sites for winter birds.

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The area containing Bestwood Park (Sherwood) is characterised by its acid soil and its associated woodland. Oak-birch woodland makes up 350 acres of the park. This area (called Bigwood) contains some fine examples of mature trees such as, Oak, Sycamore and Sweet Chestnut. The Warren Hill Plantation is an area of ancient woodland with an associated ground of flora and under storey species such as Hazel and Elm. Much of the woodland was formerly part of Sherwood Forest however past management which involved clear felling of substantial areas, has produced naturally regenerated secondary woodland. Included within the ‘woodland’ are ...

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