The Amble Marshes was once a salt-marsh, but the valley was dammed and the river canalised in 1963/64 to protect the village of Chapel Amble from flooding. The area is now an area of arable and pasture fields dominated by the CBWPS reserve, Walmsley Sanctuary and a recently purchased reserve to it’s north.
The CBWPS have had a presence in the valley since 1938 when it purchased the shooting rights to the Lower Amble Marshes, the following year it purchased the land making this it’s first bird reserve.
The reserve was given statutory protection under the Wild Bird Protection (Cornwall) Order in 1948 with the Amble Marshes, (including Walmsley Sanctuary) , being notified a SSSI under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949. In 1961 the reserve was made a statutory Bird Reserve under the Protection of Birds Act 1954, replacing the earlier 1948 Act. The 1961 Act was repealed but the reserve retained legal protection with a status equivalent to an Area of Special Protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The SSSI was renotified in 1986 under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Unfortunately the damming of the River Amble meant that the reserve became pasture land and as such the number of species dropped with the area becoming unsuitable for numerous species that once used it. The CBWPS in both 1974 and 1986 attempted to hold water on the site with limited success. In 1991, work stated on creating the present bunged area with the help of the NRA. This area now holds water throughout the year, providing safe roosting and feeding areas.
The valley has recently been re-flooded by the Environment Agency and the River Amble has been put back to almost it’s original course.
The area is an important wetland site with large numbers of wintering waterfowl and many breeding species.
Although there is no access to Walmsley Sanctuary a public hide is sited in the western corner (blue), and a members only hide (pink), along the western edge. The area can be viewed from the public footpaths that encircle the valley and Walmsley Sanctuary.