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Trentabank Reservoir

Species-rich, unimproved, upland, acid grassland. Coniferous plantation surrounding Trentabank reservoir with a large heronry of about 22 pairs.

The reservoir is in Macclesfield Forest, partly in the Peak District National Park, about 3 miles (5km) south east of Macclesfield (O.S. Grid Ref.: SJ962713).


From Macclesfield follow the A523 (Leek road) south for about 0.5 mile and then turn left (Byrons Lane) towards Sutton and Langley. In about 1 mile turn left to Langley. The reservoir is in about 1.5 miles.

The map shows the visitor facilities, including an easy access path. The rangers organise public events throughout the year, and welcome arranged visits by schools.
Access to the remainder of the reserve is restricted to organised parties and members with a permit from the Trust.

Pubs: Leather’s Smithy, Hanging Gate and several in Wildboarclough.
Teashops: Blaze Farm on A54, Wildboarclough (daily except Xmas day); Brookside Café, Wildboarclough (summer only); Peak View Café on A537 (Thurs to Sun).

Cheshire Wildlife Trust manage the reserve under licence from United Utilities, the owners. It is managed in partnership with Peak District National Park Rangers, United Utilities and Macclesfield Borough Council. The reserve was established in 1982. The area of the reserve is 47 acres (19 ha),with the reservoir occupying 23 acres (9 ha).

The geography of Trentabank reservoir and the reserve boundary are shown on the map.
Trentabank is the uppermost of four reservoirs which collect water from the hill catchment areas at the head of the River Bollin. Water from Ridgegate and Trentabank supplies Macclesfield with drinking water, while water from Tegg’s Nose and Bottoms is used to control water flow in the river.
The water surface is approximately 860 feet above sea level. The main water area is deep, reaching 60 feet, but the south, east and north east banks have shallow margins.
The principle reason for establishing the reserve is the large heronry which is used each year from January to July by about 20 nesting pairs.

Trentabank is the Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s most visited reserve because of its location and accessibility with visitor facilities and an easy access path. The conifer plantation has a network of footpaths. One goes over Shutlingsloe to Wildboarclough which is in the South West Pennines Environmentally Sensitive Area. Tegg’s Nose Reservoir adjoins Tegg’s Nose Country Park.

The conifers are pine, spruce and larch. The heronry is in Japanese larch, but as this species has a comparatively short life, replacement oak and ash, as well as larch, have been planted. On the north bank, mixed deciduous trees have been planted to eventually replace the conifers.
The reserve has about 1 ha of acidic grassland, mostly on the slope of the dam and the north west bank. This has a varied flora including bluebell, tormentil, pignut, birdsfoot trefoil, foxglove and lesser knapweed.
The rise and fall of the water level provides good habitat for marginal aquatic plants including amphibious bistort, water mint, water horsetail and common spike rush.

The conifer trees were planted around 1930 to protect the water catchment area and have evolved their own wildlife. There is a flock of 30 to 40 crossbills which feed on pine seeds – you may see their discarded cones. Siskins breed in the forest. Goldcrests can be seen or heard in the treetops. Their numbers are greatest in the winter when the breeding population is joined by migrants from across the North Sea. The common woodland birds are also present. In spring, pied flycatchers return to breed in the open-fronted nest boxes. Trentabank is a good place to compare the song of garden warbler and blackcap. There are about six breeding pairs of woodcock. At dusk, when is almost completely dark, male woodcock fly along the boundaries of their territory making a greeting call.
Cormorants roost in the trees from autumn to spring. Coot, goldeneye and pochard are sometimes seen, although they are more common on Redgegate Reservoir which is shallower. All the reservoirs support mallard and tufted duck, great crested and little grebe. Common sandpiper can be seen at the waters edge in spring.
Apart from the common mammals, there is a herd of about 12 red deer, which are the descendants of those introduced when Macclesfield Forest was a hunting forest. Deer hoof-prints can be seen in muddy ground where they cross the public footpaths in the forest; if you are lucky, you may see one come to the waters edge to drink.

Three and four pairs of goosander spent almost two months on the reservoirs. This species breeds in Scotland but is slowly extending its range southward and there are a few breeding in Yorkshire.

Nest boxes for goldeneye have been erected, but so far they have not been used.
The management of the bank-side vegetation is reviewed in September and October. Some bank-side vegetation will be cut back in early winter, when it will cause least disturbance to the herons.
The management will take into account the necessity of acting as a water supply as well as the needs of wildlife such as otters, a Biodiversity Action Plan species. They are slowly spreading eastwards from Wales, though there has been only one record on the reservoirs in the last ten years.

Trentabank reservoir; photo by Tony Allenby
Trentabank Reservoir
Heron; photo by Darin Smith

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