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A Stroll Around Westport Lake and Nature Reserve

Updated on October 13, 2017

Westport Lake Regeneration Park opened in 1971

Westport Lake Regeneration Park was officially opened in 1971 by the then Prime Minister Ted Heath. At the time it was seen as a great example of how to regenerate former industrial wastelands, thus creating exciting new leisure and recreation facilities within urban communities. The park was originally the site of a coal mine and its workings which had gradually subsided and flooded.

Westport Lake Park has proven to be one of the city’s most popular and enduring regeneration projects.The engraved plaque which commemorates the official opening is set into a rock within close proximity to the water's edge and within sight of the visitor centre.

Measuring approximately 300 metres in diameter, Westport Lake is situated between Tunstall and Burslem in the north of the Potteries.The lake covers some 10 hectares and is only 1m deep at the most. Underwater surveys show it to be uniformly shallow.

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This rock stands  a few feet from the water's edge and is within sight of the visitor centre. The plaque commemorates the official opening of Westport Lake by Ted Heath in 1971The engraved plaque serves as a reminder for posterity of the official opening day of Westport Lake by Ted Heath.
This rock stands  a few feet from the water's edge and is within sight of the visitor centre. The plaque commemorates the official opening of Westport Lake by Ted Heath in 1971
This rock stands a few feet from the water's edge and is within sight of the visitor centre. The plaque commemorates the official opening of Westport Lake by Ted Heath in 1971 | Source
The engraved plaque serves as a reminder for posterity of the official opening day of Westport Lake by Ted Heath.
The engraved plaque serves as a reminder for posterity of the official opening day of Westport Lake by Ted Heath. | Source

Westport Lake is home to an award winning visitor centre.

Westport Lake is home to one of the few architectural achievements in the City of Stoke on Trent in recent times: the new Westport Lake Visitor Centre, which opened in 2009.

The centre is run by The Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and provides a guide and history of Westport Lake, and is to a futuristic design raised on stilts and incorporating building materials sympathetic to its waterfront surroundings The building boasts stunning views across the park.

There is easy wheelchair access to the building, as there is to all the paths around both lakes, though in wet weather these can become muddy. In all you should allow at least a couple of hours for the visit, the circular path around the lake is approximately 1 mile in length.

No animals are allowed into the centre but are allowed onto the veranda. I should expect guide dogs or similar working dogs to be allowed into the building. Pet walking throughout the park pathways is allowed though the animal should be under leash control at all times.

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The lake and award winning visitor centre.The visitor centre sits almost at waters front and is raised on stilts.The visitor centre is surrounded by a shallow moat and a bridge has to be crossed to enter. Unfortunately anti-social behaviour at night forced the architects to incorporate a design feature that would prevent unsavory gatherings in dark cornersThe visitor centre is spacious with hot drinks and snacks available for purchase. Toilets are inside the building. It is generally open 7 days a week from 10am until 5pm.Fine views of the lake from the veranda of the visitor centre. The posts protruding from the water are what remains of the jetty and pontoon.Fine views of the lake from the veranda of the visitor centre. To the far right, just out of picture rests the rock with the official opening commemorative plaque.Drinks and snacks purchased from the visitor center cafe can be enjoyed while viewing out over the lake.
The lake and award winning visitor centre.
The lake and award winning visitor centre. | Source
The visitor centre sits almost at waters front and is raised on stilts.
The visitor centre sits almost at waters front and is raised on stilts. | Source
The visitor centre is surrounded by a shallow moat and a bridge has to be crossed to enter. Unfortunately anti-social behaviour at night forced the architects to incorporate a design feature that would prevent unsavory gatherings in dark corners
The visitor centre is surrounded by a shallow moat and a bridge has to be crossed to enter. Unfortunately anti-social behaviour at night forced the architects to incorporate a design feature that would prevent unsavory gatherings in dark corners | Source
The visitor centre is spacious with hot drinks and snacks available for purchase. Toilets are inside the building. It is generally open 7 days a week from 10am until 5pm.
The visitor centre is spacious with hot drinks and snacks available for purchase. Toilets are inside the building. It is generally open 7 days a week from 10am until 5pm. | Source
Fine views of the lake from the veranda of the visitor centre. The posts protruding from the water are what remains of the jetty and pontoon.
Fine views of the lake from the veranda of the visitor centre. The posts protruding from the water are what remains of the jetty and pontoon. | Source
Fine views of the lake from the veranda of the visitor centre. To the far right, just out of picture rests the rock with the official opening commemorative plaque.
Fine views of the lake from the veranda of the visitor centre. To the far right, just out of picture rests the rock with the official opening commemorative plaque. | Source
Drinks and snacks purchased from the visitor center cafe can be enjoyed while viewing out over the lake.
Drinks and snacks purchased from the visitor center cafe can be enjoyed while viewing out over the lake. | Source

In the early years

In years gone by, certainly how I remember the place as a child, (The visitor centre stands on what used to be the beach.) there were no visitor facilities here other than a few portaloos and a free carpark, to this day it remains free to park your car

On one occasion I recall wagon after wagon dropping off tons of sand and then it being raked by a tractor to level it out to form an artificial beach. There were many children including myself who were thrilled by the prospect of a day at the lake making sandcastles and paddling. There used to be sailing dinghies, a launch jetty and pontoon and always an Ice cream van parked up nearby busy as ever almost every day. As a youngster it was quite easy to imagine being at the seaside when you looked over the beach and onto the lake and all of its activity, always reminding yourself to never glimpse to your left or right lest you may catch sight of the railway sidings or other industrial buildings which would undermine your fantasy.

The smaller lake which is now the bird sanctuary hosted regular Sunday morning radio control boat events which was quite a crowd draw. In the 70's wildlife preservation did not enjoy the same level of popular support as it does today and similar activities would not be tolerated. It's easy to imagine what disruption and annoyance was caused to the birds.

Pollution

Unfortunately all this fun came to an abrupt end when the authorities deemed both lakes too polluted for human bathing, sailing and other activities.

The public were not deterred and still visited in numbers, the grassy banks, the pathways and the many picnic tables always remained available for public enjoyment.

After a period of time, benefited by greatly reduced human disturbance closely coupled with further redundant industrial infrastructure being cleared, and being enhanced by mans effort to reduce the parks pollution levels the wildlife began to thrive.

Fishing is allowed on the main lake and purpose built peg spots are dotted around the water. To this day, bathing and any activities within the park that may upset nature's balance are barred.

Approaching Westport Lake Park and Nature Reserve.

As you drive through a recently constructed private housing development to reach the large carpark and lakeside, a narrow steel bridge passes you over the Trent and Mersey canal which runs parallel with the main lake. Even though the car park has been substantially enlarged over the years, in particularly busy periods you may have to queue for a parking space!

A tour guide leaflet of the park including visitor information is available from the visitor centre for free!

Occasions when it may be prudent not to visit Westport Lake and Nature Reserve

The large carpark is next to a children's playground which is very popular and is enjoyed by families with children. If you only want a quiet, gentle walk around the lakes or nature reserve to watch or photograph wildlife, don't go in the middle of summer when the schools are closed (end of July and all of August) or any other summer school holiday for that matter. Summer Bank holidays are to be avoided with a certainty! If you go in Winter it will be very peaceful, but there may be limited wildlife.

Feeding the Birds

You may feed the birds!

The resident flock of waterfowl, through habit and experience learn that humans are the bearers of food. Indeed they expect to be fed and are not timid. They have confidence enough to approach you, sometimes as intimidating as a pack of wolves. They seem to have an ability to identify and single out those individuals who have their bird feed.

Do not feed the birds anything other than the bird feed which is available for purchase from the visitor centre!

Depending on the season expect to find, among others, birds such as Canada Geese, Coots, Mallards, Swans, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, and Seagulls.

Heading in a clockwise direction around the park. The visitor centre will be the last port of call for refreshments.

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The carpark and the children's playpark behind it. At peak times it may take a little while to find a parking place.We bypassed walking around the smaller lake which is now the bird sanctuary as we had our grandson with us and the path appeared to be a little too muddy for the pushchair. There were a lot of bird droppings littering this section of path too!The lakes and mature vegetation attract an interesting range of seasonal waterfowl, Canada Geese, Coots, Mallards, Swans, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted ducks and various gulls. Juvenile Swans on the smaller lake which acts as a bird sanctuary. These form part of the resident waterfowl flock.They are very inquisitive and not afraid of you. They see you as having an easy meal for them. Only use bird feed purchased from the visitor centre.if you stay in one place for too long then a flock soon congregates.This embankment is what remains of the old railway sidings.The resident waterfowl are not afraid to approach you in search of an easy meal.Looking rearwards to the carpark.On to the old railway embankment and heading West towards the nature reserve/study area.Viewing the lake from the embankment near to the small lake/ bird sanctuary. Marsh reeds are planted and cultivated along the banks of the lake.Serene and picturesque is the only way to describe the scene.Swans and Mallards are popular residents.Ducks leave the water's edge to greet us. I think food is the reason for their motivation.
The carpark and the children's playpark behind it. At peak times it may take a little while to find a parking place.
The carpark and the children's playpark behind it. At peak times it may take a little while to find a parking place. | Source
We bypassed walking around the smaller lake which is now the bird sanctuary as we had our grandson with us and the path appeared to be a little too muddy for the pushchair. There were a lot of bird droppings littering this section of path too!
We bypassed walking around the smaller lake which is now the bird sanctuary as we had our grandson with us and the path appeared to be a little too muddy for the pushchair. There were a lot of bird droppings littering this section of path too! | Source
The lakes and mature vegetation attract an interesting range of seasonal waterfowl, Canada Geese, Coots, Mallards, Swans, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted ducks and various gulls.
The lakes and mature vegetation attract an interesting range of seasonal waterfowl, Canada Geese, Coots, Mallards, Swans, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted ducks and various gulls. | Source
Juvenile Swans on the smaller lake which acts as a bird sanctuary. These form part of the resident waterfowl flock.
Juvenile Swans on the smaller lake which acts as a bird sanctuary. These form part of the resident waterfowl flock. | Source
They are very inquisitive and not afraid of you. They see you as having an easy meal for them. Only use bird feed purchased from the visitor centre.
They are very inquisitive and not afraid of you. They see you as having an easy meal for them. Only use bird feed purchased from the visitor centre. | Source
if you stay in one place for too long then a flock soon congregates.
if you stay in one place for too long then a flock soon congregates. | Source
This embankment is what remains of the old railway sidings.
This embankment is what remains of the old railway sidings. | Source
The resident waterfowl are not afraid to approach you in search of an easy meal.
The resident waterfowl are not afraid to approach you in search of an easy meal. | Source
Looking rearwards to the carpark.On to the old railway embankment and heading West towards the nature reserve/study area.
Looking rearwards to the carpark.On to the old railway embankment and heading West towards the nature reserve/study area. | Source
Viewing the lake from the embankment near to the small lake/ bird sanctuary. Marsh reeds are planted and cultivated along the banks of the lake.
Viewing the lake from the embankment near to the small lake/ bird sanctuary. Marsh reeds are planted and cultivated along the banks of the lake. | Source
Serene and picturesque is the only way to describe the scene.
Serene and picturesque is the only way to describe the scene. | Source
Swans and Mallards are popular residents.
Swans and Mallards are popular residents. | Source
Ducks leave the water's edge to greet us. I think food is the reason for their motivation.
Ducks leave the water's edge to greet us. I think food is the reason for their motivation. | Source

Heading West off the circular lake path and entering the adjacent nature reserve/study area.

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Regeneration and conservation work is ongoing.This is the nature study area. This area is rapidly growing up but essentially consists of  interconnected pools fringed with Alders, Phragmites and Glyceria. Information boards are strategically placed along the route.There are resident waterfowl in this area but the dense undergrowth hinders spotting them.A Drake and Hen make an appearance.The main lake is only a few yards away.This area really has matured over the past few years.  It fascinates me when I consider this marshland is in the centre of a sprawling city.I'm in awe of the area's beauty. Just a stone's throw away from the main lake.A dash of colour among the green and gold.We are now led back onto the main lake path.
Regeneration and conservation work is ongoing.
Regeneration and conservation work is ongoing. | Source
This is the nature study area. This area is rapidly growing up but essentially consists of  interconnected pools fringed with Alders, Phragmites and Glyceria.
This is the nature study area. This area is rapidly growing up but essentially consists of interconnected pools fringed with Alders, Phragmites and Glyceria. | Source
Information boards are strategically placed along the route.
Information boards are strategically placed along the route. | Source
There are resident waterfowl in this area but the dense undergrowth hinders spotting them.
There are resident waterfowl in this area but the dense undergrowth hinders spotting them. | Source
A Drake and Hen make an appearance.
A Drake and Hen make an appearance. | Source
The main lake is only a few yards away.
The main lake is only a few yards away. | Source
This area really has matured over the past few years.  It fascinates me when I consider this marshland is in the centre of a sprawling city.
This area really has matured over the past few years. It fascinates me when I consider this marshland is in the centre of a sprawling city. | Source
I'm in awe of the area's beauty. Just a stone's throw away from the main lake.
I'm in awe of the area's beauty. Just a stone's throw away from the main lake. | Source
A dash of colour among the green and gold.
A dash of colour among the green and gold. | Source
We are now led back onto the main lake path.
We are now led back onto the main lake path. | Source

Back onto the main circular path

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Now at the North end of the lake with the visitor centre in the far distance.Westport Lake is noted among fishermen for the Pike. There are many fishing pegs located about the lake.In some  sections of the lake, the shoreline is obscured by trees.One of the many picnic benches affording lovely views over the lake.
Now at the North end of the lake with the visitor centre in the far distance.
Now at the North end of the lake with the visitor centre in the far distance. | Source
Westport Lake is noted among fishermen for the Pike. There are many fishing pegs located about the lake.
Westport Lake is noted among fishermen for the Pike. There are many fishing pegs located about the lake. | Source
In some  sections of the lake, the shoreline is obscured by trees.
In some sections of the lake, the shoreline is obscured by trees. | Source
One of the many picnic benches affording lovely views over the lake.
One of the many picnic benches affording lovely views over the lake. | Source

Heading off the main circular path into another smaller nature reserve.

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This little haven is within sight of the lake. We counted half a dozen grey squirrels but unfortunately not a red to be seen.I believe this has been built up to form a barrier against the elements, as well as outlining the path edges.There is evidence of delicate planting.There are one or two pockets of Daffodils planted.The trees help to provide cover from the elements.
This little haven is within sight of the lake. We counted half a dozen grey squirrels but unfortunately not a red to be seen.
This little haven is within sight of the lake. We counted half a dozen grey squirrels but unfortunately not a red to be seen. | Source
I believe this has been built up to form a barrier against the elements, as well as outlining the path edges.
I believe this has been built up to form a barrier against the elements, as well as outlining the path edges. | Source
There is evidence of delicate planting.
There is evidence of delicate planting. | Source
There are one or two pockets of Daffodils planted.
There are one or two pockets of Daffodils planted. | Source
The trees help to provide cover from the elements.
The trees help to provide cover from the elements. | Source

Heading onto the towpath of the Trent and Mersey canal which runs alongside the main circular path of the lake

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The towpath of The Trent and Mersey canal runs parallel to the lake path.The waterfowl are friendly and curious. The views over the lake from the adjacent properties must be stunning.The view over the lake from the towpath. The path in the forefront is the lake path.Depending on the season, barges are often moored here and sell their wares.Another fisherman most probably sporting for Pike.The end of the beautiful circular walk and heading for refreshments at the visitor centre.
The towpath of The Trent and Mersey canal runs parallel to the lake path.
The towpath of The Trent and Mersey canal runs parallel to the lake path. | Source
The waterfowl are friendly and curious. The views over the lake from the adjacent properties must be stunning.
The waterfowl are friendly and curious. The views over the lake from the adjacent properties must be stunning. | Source
The view over the lake from the towpath. The path in the forefront is the lake path.
The view over the lake from the towpath. The path in the forefront is the lake path. | Source
Depending on the season, barges are often moored here and sell their wares.
Depending on the season, barges are often moored here and sell their wares. | Source
Another fisherman most probably sporting for Pike.
Another fisherman most probably sporting for Pike. | Source
The end of the beautiful circular walk and heading for refreshments at the visitor centre.
The end of the beautiful circular walk and heading for refreshments at the visitor centre. | Source

Location of Westport Lake Nature Reserve and visitor centre. Westport Lake Rd, Stoke-on-Trent ST6 4RZ, UK

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