Why St Maurice's pond is a special place!
My family moved to Cumbernauld in 1979 and for as long as I can remember St Maurice’s pond has always had a special place in my heart. Growing up in such a green town was an incredible experience for a child from the East end of Glasgow. Imagine the wonder at finding burns, woods and ponds full of wildlife, being able to explore for miles in open grasslands, jump streams and occasionally fall in! I have, and always will be a regular visitor to St Maurice’s Pond, it is my haven. Before the digital age of cameras I would gleefully take picture after picture on film, sadly only a few snaps remain but they spark very fond memories. I continue to snap away on my digital camera now and no longer have that agonising wait until the film is developed; as a result I have hundreds if not thousands of shots from this beautiful oasis of calm.
The pond is what we call a SINC, a Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation and the owners are North Lanarkshire Council. Their work at this site over the years has helped make it a very special site home to UK Biodiversity Action Plan species such as reed bunting, sky larks and the rare small pearl bordered fritillary butterfly. In 2011 a public consultation was held and the old boardwalk, which skirted around the pond on the eastern edge, was removed. There is a path which takes you up a slope and around the pond giving you a bird’s eye view of the area through gaps and tree branches, this path is also home to beautiful wildflowers and an amazing array of insects. I much prefer this new path system as it lets me wander a world of varying habitats from the wetland pond to the woodland, wetland meadows to open grassland, there is such variety that you cannot simply see everything St Maurice’s has to offer in one short visit, you always have to go back!
Five fantastic facts
- St Maurice, patron saint of Holy Roman Emperors was a leader of the Roman Thebian Legion, martyred for his beliefs in 287AD. He is the patron saint of Bron, of which the town of Cumbernauld is twinned with.
- St Mo’s as it is affectionately known used to hold “the Shows” (funfair) as we called them where the BMX and the hill are now. I remember getting candy floss on a stick, none of your in a bag nonsense you get today, there was a skill to demolishing a huge stick of the stuff without it falling off – ah good times!
- Dragonflies, damselflies, mayfly, caddisfly and stonefly are indicator species and they make this site their home. They indicate that the water quality is unpolluted with high oxygen content. Look out for amazing beetle larvae too and the upside down pond skater.
- Fishing is welcome at St Mo’s but removing the fish is not. Anglers are asked to catch and release back into the pond and not a bucket! They are also encouraged to remove any broken lines and hooks and rubbish they have brought with them. Some of the best fishing can be seen in the form of the grey heron who likes to sample the goods.
- One of the rarest visitors to the pond is the small pearl bordered fritillary butterfly. This beautiful butterfly can be spotted sunbathing on thistles from the middle of June in to the beginning of July. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather.
The future is looking bright for St Maurice's pond as we are about to embark on a project at this site. I have recently become the full time Community Engagement Officer for the Cumbernauld Living Landscape and will be working with local schools and communities to improve 3 sites in Cumbernauld. We'll be making a splash, watch out for updates on the project.