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In 2008, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a grant of nearly £800,000 to Dudley Council to enhance Wren’s Nest National Nature Reserve for its' project, Ripples Through Time.

In 2010, the project received additional support (£70,000) from Natural England's, Natural Assets programme, funded by Advantage West Midlands.

As part of the Ripples through Time project, a number of workstreams were implement including

  • a series of interpretation and sculptural / artworks commissioned to assist in telling the story of the site to visitors and the local community

  • improving access around the site, including regarding footpaths, installing new steps and handrails, new entrance gates and introducing four new themed walks, with waymarkers to guide visitors around the site.

  • building two new viewing platforms at the northern and southern ends of the Seven Sisters Mines in addition to raising the level of the existing viewing platform to create enhanced viewpoints of the mine opening. The safety fencing around the Seven Sisters mines was also removed.

The official ceremony to mark the opening of the completed works was held on September 27th 2011, Wren's Nests' 55th Anniversary of being a National Nature Reserve and presided over by Dudley's Mayor, Cabinet Member for Culture and the Environment and HLF Committee Member.

Physical Improvements

Physical enhancements to the NNR included improvements to entrances, paths, steps and fencing as well as creating four new walking routes around the NNR. These have seen the introduction of new waymarkers to guide visitors around the site, each with their own story to tell.

  • Accessible route - a route which takes visitors to the key features of the site including the Fossil Trench, Ripple Beds, which are both on the lower part of the site and are suitable for all wheelchairs and buggies, while the Seven Sisters Mine, due to the sites topography is accessible for those in a motorised wheelchair or who has assistance as some slopes are at an increased gradient.

  • Murchisons Trail - explores the key geological features of the site, including the 'NCC Cut' and 'Murchisons Viewpoint' as well as the Seven Sisters and the Ripple Beds

  • Wildlife Trail - this walk will take you over both the Wren's Nest Hill and Mons Hill sides of the Nature Reserve, visiting some of the key areas for wildlife watching

  • Abraham Darby - find out more about the Archaeological features of the site, including the birthplace of Abraham Darby and the foundations of the old farm house.

The funding also allowed us to renew access to the viewing area of the Seven Sisters Mine which had been fenced off and inaccessible to the public for over seven years and build two new viewing platforms at the Northern and Southern ends of the mine.

A new car park has also been built for the National Nature Reserve. This is located off Wrens Hill Road and is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm or at other times for groups by arrangement.

Interpretation and Learning

A number of new interpretation features have been designed and installed throughout the Nature Reserve – information panels, sculptural pieces and a ‘time periscope’.

A Learning and Community Development Officer was appointed to develop the learning, interpretation, volunteer and community development aspects of the NNR. Development of learning resources including on-site and outreach programmes, website, online learning packages (including podcast) and expanded guided walks, talks and special events have been developed.