THE RIVER SID NATURE RESERVE
Set up in January 2022, this private nature reserve is at the heart of the River Sid.
This is a re-wilded section of the river – the decision being made to give it a more dedicated and defined approach. At the moment, the site is about seven acres, and more might be added over time.
This is a private nature reserve – and these are in fact rather common, with more private than public reserves in the United Kingdom. They are increasing quite rapidly in number, as the public sector retreats from this area of responsibility: The extent and effectiveness of protected areas in the UK – ScienceDirect
At the present time there is no public access to the Reserve, and there are no public footpaths. There are plans to provide a permissive right of way through the site, incorporating a new bridge and linking Footpath Number 157 to the extended network in The Byes. This will create a circular route around Sidford and the northern end of The Byes.
Any new public access provision will have to be carried out properly. The prevention of encroachment over the past years has made a difference, with nature returning to the area in quite an impressive and remarkable way. Dogs will be allowed through but only on a lead, will be required to keep to the path and will not be allowed to enter the river: Dogs and Wildlife – Building a ‘Pawsitive’ Relationship – LIFE ON THE EDGE (LOTE) PROJECT
As regards biodiversity, there are also plans to create a lake to encourage migratory birds. There are serious issues around invasive species, with plans to eradicate Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed, and to reduce the three-cornered leek; the Sidbashers have been very welcome and effective in their work along the river: Sidbashers start clearing the Sid Valley of Himalayan Balsam
The Reserve is visited every day, to clear any littler and to monitor wildlife. In all other respects, the area will remain much the same: as has been suggested by the Wild Trout Trust, “the best advice is to just leave it alone”: River Sid, Devon Advisory Visit | Wild Trout Trust
The Reserve has an Instagram page, with pictures being regularly posted – both the latest and from the archive: @river_sid_nature_reserve • Instagram photos and videos
Here is a stretch of the Reserve in mid February 2022: