Surrey Countryside Champions – Buckland Park Lake
Since quarrying ended at the Buckland Estate 30 years ago, nature has flourished creating the stunning Buckland Park Lake. Visitors are welcome to come and enjoy the beautiful site, but for the team at Buckland Park Lake, nature always comes first.
The staff have initiatives in place to ensure the site is run sustainably so that it is here for many future generations to enjoy. We caught up with Wayne, Operations Manager, to find out more about Buckland Park Lake and the work the team do there.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Please can you summarise who you are and what you do?
Buckland Park Lake is part of Buckland Estate and was originally the quarry for Buckland Sand & Silica Co Ltd, founded in 1925. Buckland has had four different sand quarries, and Park Pit (now Buckland Park Lake) was the third of these, quarried from 1959 to 1990. The name ‘Park Pit’ originated from the ‘Park’ which appears on many old maps including the survey of 1854. The original park comprised grassland with some trees and landscaping and was perhaps grazed by deer, as was the custom in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In the 30 years since quarrying ended, nature has been left to flourish and the result is, in our opinion, too beautiful not to share. Sand is both our heritage and the sub-strata which defines the landscape. It is the sandy beaches, the sandstone cliffs and the sandy, acidic soils supporting particular plant types, which create an almost Mediterranean feel. The striking expanse of water populated with abundant bird life and bordered by cliffs and mature mixed woodland provide visitors with a sense of intimacy and of the unexpected: this is a ‘secret’ place.
Our vision is to provide a space that will offer enjoyment and a wellness boost for all our visitors. Whether that’s enjoying the water, woods, nature, or food offerings on site.
Buckland Park Lake is such a beautiful location, how important is sustainability to the running of the site?
Sustainability underpins much of what we do and believe in at the park. We believe that the sustainable development of the park must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. We strongly feel that the resources and space we have at the park are finite, and so should be used conservatively and carefully, to ensure that there is something for future generations to enjoy.
What can visitors do to ensure they enjoy the site responsibly?
The biggest thing visitors can do, is to keep their environmental footprint on the site to an absolute minimum. Be respectful of where you walk, the noise you create, and don’t leave litter behind when enjoying the site. Everybody is welcome but at the end of the day, it would be great if it looked and felt as if nobody has ever visited at all. The lake water is also very deep and very cold, so unauthorised swimming is very dangerous. The water needs to be enjoyed responsibly.
As a location that celebrates nature, how can you ensure the running of the site reflects this too?
Every decision we make, is balanced against the impact it will have on nature. This is why we have several groups constantly surveying the site for fauna and flora and advising us on what to do to or not to do to encourage more animals and plants. Our restrictions on noise, light, and pets, also help protect the natural systems at the park. We restrict the number of visitors at any one time to the park, so that we do not overwhelm the habitat or the ambience. Most of the activities we offer at the park connect people to nature in some way and this is our mission.
What sustainability initiatives do you have in place currently?
We are always encouraging visitors to visit the park on foot where possible. Our current restrictions on noise and light help limit pollution in these two areas. We are also currently engaging with wildlife experts who are helping us re-establish more wildlife at the park.
How can people and local residents support Buckland Park Lake?
Becoming a member of the park is the best way to support the park. It offers the best value for money but also allows us to continue doing the important work which forms the backbone of our vision. There are also some cool benefits to being a member!
Your team does amazing work. When you’re not at Buckland Park Lake what is your favourite Surrey greenspace to explore?
We are spoilt for choice in Surrey, but I spend a lot of my time on the estate itself, which borders the North Downs. There is so much to see and do, that I never get tired of exploring this area. I also enjoy Vann Lake, in Ockley which has some amazing ancient woodland.