Tucked away in the East Neuk of Fife, what was once a functioning reservoir is now a wildlife oasis.
Gillingshill Nature Reserve north of St Monans is surrounded by fields.
Amid the agricultural activity, it provides a diverse habitat appreciated by people and animals alike.
Fife Council plan to sell Gillingshill, because its reservoir is surplus to requirements.
Any future sale of the land would be subject to a management agreement to preserve its nature reserve status and maintain public access.
But local residents have said they were not consulted before the council decided to dispose of it.
During Victorian times the reservoir provided people in the East Neuk with drinking water.
But as the population expanded, larger water supplies were needed and it was left redundant.
In 2006, Lord Jamie Lindsay officially opened Gillingshill as a nature reserve.
What is so special about Gillingshill?
David High is a local biologist who aims to set up a ‘Friends of Gillingshill’ group.
He hopes this will lead to the local community becoming involved in the future management of the reserve.
David says the Fife reserve provides a diverse habitat for a variety of wildlife.
“The nature here is beautiful with willows along the Dreel Burn,” he said.
“The fast stream is home to the dipper, a small brown and white bird dipping to and fro while perched on a stone and swims underwater looking for insect life.
“Green woodpeckers can sometimes be seen as well as treecreepers, spotted woodpeckers etc.”
Bird watchers can look out for tits, chaffinches and yellowhammers, as well as waterfowl including breeding swans.
The local swans turned into local celebrities after neighbours East Neuk Orchards shared the birds’ adventures on their Instagram page.
And, thanks to local estate owners working with RSPB Scotland, corn buntings are also regular visitors.
Pandemic halted plans
Before the pandemic, Arncroach and Carnbee Community Development Trust launched a crowdfunding campaign.
Their aim was to create an additional small nature reserve following the course of the Dreel Burn to join up with Gillingshill Nature Reserve.
The trust also wanted to upgrade paths and make the area more accessible.
Samar Mukherjee, who chairs the trust, said this was “still in our sights” but any future projects would depend on the reserve’s future owners.
He added that Gillingshill was an ideal spot in Fife to observe wildlife.
“It is a lovely wooded walk with a burn running through it.
“The overspill cascade from the upper Gillingshill reservoir provides us with a manmade waterfall, which is a sight to behold following a spell of heavy rain.
“There are numerous birds that inhabit the gully. At quiet times you might catch deer scurrying away.
“The reservoir is home to families of moorhens and swans.”
Samar said Gillingshill was popular with dog walkers and those looking for “some peace and quiet”.
“Young families from the villages use it too and it was quite frequently visited by people from the local costal towns during the lockdowns.”