A NATURE reserve near Castle Cary was opened up to the general public for the first time on Saturday.
Based on a capped landfill site, Carymoor Environmental Centre specialises in environmental education for people of all ages.
The centre was established 15 years ago, but access has been limited to group visits and guided walks because the Dimmer landfill site next door is still in operation.
People were invited to explore the beautiful reserve off Dimmer Lane, following nature trails through the wildlife habitats created on the restored former landfill site.
Julia Percy, education officer at Carymoor Environmental Trust, said: "You never know what you are going to see here.
"Over the winter we had short-eared owls and marsh harriers turn up. It is a real haven for wildlife."
In addition to walking along the nature trails, visitors saw a recreation of an iron-age roundhouse and a giant-sized tipi and visited a recreation of a classroom in the African shanty town of Kroo Bay.
Frances Stuart, chief executive at Carymoor Environmental Trust, said: "We wanted people to be able to enjoy the wonderful nature reserve that we have created.
"We are exploring ways to make Carymoor open for all to enjoy and hope that this is the first step towards realising this dream."
Children also took part in fun trails, quizzes and minibeast hunts.
Development manager Rupert Farthing said the event provided a great opportunity for families to explore the site and learn together.
He said: "Because there are a lot of lorries coming into the site the centre is not open to the public all of the time.
"However, this has provided a great opportunity for the local community to have a look around at what Carymoor has to offer.
"We have some fantastic wildlife here, including 32 different species of butterfly.
"There is no substitute for seeing things first-hand, and it is important for children to see a working demonstration of things like sustainability which they are taught about in school.
"Our long-term aspiration is to open the site to the public as a community resource."
The Carymoor Environmental Trust has worked with more than 300 schools across the region, offering workshops themed on sustainability.
For more information about the environmental centre, contact 01963 350143.