BACKGROUND TO COSMESTON LAKES from WIKIPEDIA
Cosmeston Lakes Country Park is a public country park in Great Britain, owned and managed by Vale of Glamorgan Council. It is situated between Penarth and Sully, Vale of Glamorgan, 7.3 miles (11.7 kilometres) from Cardiff.
The main feature at this country park are the two large lakes divided by a bridge on the main footpath ‘mile road’.
The country park has a variety of habitats covering over 100 hectares of land and water, with some areas designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (S.S.S.I) protecting the rare and diverse plant and animal species.
Guide to Cosmeston
Sourced from Vale of Glamorgan Website follow links to main information website
LAKES AND PONDS AT COSMESTON
The main lakes at Cosmeston are over 12ha in size with many smaller ponds found throughout the country park for you to discover.
The 12 ha of open water attract large flocks of waterfowl. The east lake is a great place to see impressive numbers of mute swans, mallards and coots and diving birds such as the great crested grebe.
The west lake features a conservation area and is quieter than the east lake.
A small island can be found on the west lake an ideal secluded area for breeding birds.
Each winter the lakes at Cosmeston attract large flocks of migrating wildfowl such as, teal, tufted duck, widgeon, pochard and shoveler ducks also the star bird attraction, the bittern.
The west lake is the best place to spot the grey heron and occasionally the egret, they usually stand completely still, near the reed beds waiting to catch any unsuspecting, passing fish.
Many Cormorants can be spotted on both lakes, these birds are excellent at swimming and fishing and can often be seen holding their wings out to dry after a busy diving session.
Resident here all year is the spectacular kingfisher, often all that gives this wonderful bird away is a sharp call and a flash of electric blue as it dashes by.
Unseen to the visiting public the lakes are home to a very rare plant called starry stonewort, this plant grows in water up to 6m deep in areas of limestone or chalk near the sea, thus the lakes at Cosmeston are an ideal habitat.
The lakes, ponds and streams hold many strange and exciting creatures such as newts, diving beetles, water boatmen and slow moving water snails.
Newts generally avoid waters where fish are present so are rarely found in the two large lakes. The smaller ponds found throughout the country park, smooth, palmate and great crested newt can be found. Newts are protected by law, it is illegal to catch, possess or handle great crested newts without a licence.
Secretive otters can be seen around the west lake this is an ideal habitat for otters as fish are abundant. Roach, Rudd and Bream form large shoals in the east lake, but this is little protection from the top predator of these waters, the sleek pike.
In the interest of conservation no fishing takes place at Cosmeston lakes, no herbicides or pesticides are used on site and the lake water is continually monitored for quality.
WOODLANDS IN COSMESTON
Cosmeston has over 20ha of broad-leaved woodland, the main gravel pathway runs through the centre of Cogan wood with many off the beaten tracks for you to discover.
The woodland at cosmeston is typical of many broad-leaved types of woodland in the UK, oak, ash, elm, hawthorn and blackthorn making up the majority of the tree species found with dense ivy covering both tree and ground in many places.
On summer evenings at Cosmeston look out for the flittering shapes of hunting bats like the pipistrelle as they swoop through the woodlands and over the lakes in search of tasty midges and other insects.
In certain areas of the park, large numbers of these agile mammals can be seen feeding together in the fading light. Management of the woodland at cosmeston consists of opening up and clearing small sections to allow sunlight to enter, this results in ground flora having a chance to germinate and flower.
In 2019 Cosmeston Lakes Country Park was successful in gaining funding from Network Rail through The Greater West Programme; a biodiversity offsetting scheme that supports the delivery of habitat planting and enhancement projects on third party land.
The grant funding saw a two-hectare extension to the Southern edge of Cogan Wood. In total 1,350 trees were planted to include a mixed selection of fruit trees. Tree planting has many social, environmental, and health and well-being benefits and provides an added feature to the Country Park.
THE REEDBEDS AT COSMESTON
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Alongside the lake and pond margins at Cosmeston a valuable habitat can be found, wetlands and reedbeds, these habitats are a haven for all manner of wildlife.
The lake margin is a rich place for wildlife and home to unique plants that like to grow in wet, boggy conditions such as, Reed Mace, Yellow Flag Iris, Purple Loosestrife and the rare Greater Spearwort.
The reedbeds at Cosmeston are accessible by means of a boardwalk enabling visitors to view the plants and wildlife without causing any damage to the fragile habitat. Look out for a glimpse of the shy Water Rail running through reeds as you walk along the boardwalk.
The wetland, thick reed beds and lake margins also provide an excellent habitat for 16 different species of dragonfly and damselfly such as the Emperor and Migrant Hawker dragonfly and the Common Blue damselfly.
These amazing insects who were around at the time of the dinosaurs all start life as a larva underwater before emerging as the adult flying insects we commonly see hawking, chasing and darting through the reedbeds and along the waters edge hunting their prey.
A winter visitor to Cosmeston Lakes from East Anglia is the Bittern, this very rare bird prefers the thick cover of reedbeds and is seldom seen due to the fantastic camouflage of it’s brown feathers.
Other birds preferring this habitat are, Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting along with the ducks and swans who all build their nests in the cover of the reedbeds.
To maintain this precious habitat the Ranger Service remove scrub vegetation and rotationally manage the reedbeds to attract as many wildlife species as possible and who knows, they may attract the rare Water Vole to Cosmeston in the near future.
Common Species: Reed Mace, Yellow Flag Iris, Purple Loosestrife and Greater Spearwort, Emperor and Migrant Hawker Dragonfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Bittern, Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting.
There are two large wildflower meadows at Cosmeston which stretch up to the far North. On the western side are the Dovecot fields, which are separated by Sully brook running through the middle.
Cosmeston Lakes Country Park retains some areas of the original ancient flower rich grassland providing a place to feed and lay eggs for many types of butterfly.
On the western side of the country park are the dovecot fields separated by sully brook running through the middle, it is here that the remains of a medieval dovecot can be seen. These fields are connected via a bridge.
The grassland meadows at Cosmeston are cut once a year after the flowers have gone over and the cuttings removed, the dovecot fields are lightly grazed by cattle from October through to March, then also cut after the flowers have gone over and the cuttings removed. This management regime has helped to encourage growth and species diversity year on year.
Cosmeston Medieval Village
Within the country park Cosmeston Medieval Village can be found. The reconstruction of this 14th-century village, discovered during the landscaping of the park, has been described as the best of its kind in Britain.
The park is located on land that was once the enclosed fields of croft farms. The farming would have been poor because of the combination of underlying limestone with being kept permanently wet by many natural springs.
The site was a commercial limestone quarry operation owned by the British Portland Cement Manufacturers and later Blue Circle. Development started in 1886 and production commenced in 1889.
The quarries here provided limestone for the large cement works that stood until 1970 on the site of the present Cosmeston housing estate opposite the country park. The peak year of production was 1962, when 175,000 tons of cement were manufactured.
Many of the early paving slabs laid in Penarth were made from the ‘Dragon’ brand of cement. The works finally shut in November 1969. The quarries were closed in June 1970.
The only factory building left standing today is the Harvester restaurant. Once quarrying ceased two of the excavated sites were used for landfill and the remaining two naturally flooded creating the lakes that are seen today.
The park was subsequently developed and opened in 1978, through funding from the Countryside Commission. A circular path was created around the lake, with boardwalks constructed over the wetland areas .
It was during the laying of the paths, thinning of dense undergrowth and general landscaping that the remains of the former village were found, excavated and developed into a visitor attraction.
The park shares its eastern boundary with the historic Glamorganshire Golf Club.
Facilities at the park include car parking, coach parking, picnic benches, adventure play area, facilities for cleaning boats after being on the water, bbq areas for hire plus an information centre with cafe and ice cream kiosk.
The lake is populated by a wide range of water fowl, including swans, mallards, grebes and coots etc. The Eastern half of the lake is open for hire to non motorised water sports clubs affiliated with the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
The Ranger Service
Cosmeston Lakes Country Park offers an environmental education programme to primary schools and other groups all year round, run by the Ranger Service.
- ^ Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, Vale of Glamorgan Council. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- ^ Cement Kilns Penarth, Cementkilns.co.uk. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
- ^ Jump up to:a b c History of Cosmeston, Vale of Glamorgan Council. Retrieved 14 March 2018.