. . . . . . . . Hough Mill open 2-5pm Sundays to end of September . . . . . . . . . .

At 5.73 acres the Gorse Field is larger than the average field in the Swannington area. It is a centuries old fragile heath grassland which is quite rare in Leicestershire as most fields have been subject to intensive agricultural practices, such as ploughing, which destroys the natural habitat.

Our volunteers do a wonderful job looking after the Gorse Field and our other sites, combining nature with the legacy of bell pits and gin pits which along with the clay pits are evident in the Gorse Field’s many bumps and hollows.

The Gorse Field has been designated as a wildlife site since 2003, as it is a rare example of an acid grass heathland in Leicestershire.  This is why the number of trees and area of scrub have been reduced and as much as possible crass cuttings are removed to impoverish the soil so that it supports more grass and acid loving wildflowers.  The site has several plants that are rare in Leicestershire.

Gorse Field trees are terrific. More than 100 elegant silver birch provide dappled shade in summer. Don’t miss the white blossom on the hawthorn trees in May. Hazel catkins remind us that spring is on its way.

Everyone loves the mill pond, amazing that centuries ago it is where people dug out the surface coal. On a still day the reflections in the water are fabulous, depending on where you stand they will be of the mill or the trees.

Given half a chance birds will nest anywhere, in 2018 they chose the engine compartment of the dumper truck. The BBC picked up the story from our Twitter feed. Wherever we work there always seems to be a robin watching us, we have no idea if it is the same one.

Yellow gorse provides a welcome splash of colour during the depths of winter. Because we prune old gorse bushes at several different times of the year depending upon volunteer availability, the rejuvenated bushes often flower at other times.

Flowers are always one of nature’s joys. We have a wide range from the big in your face yellow irises to the small, light blue, close to the ground harebells. Just keep your eyes open.