Countryside Code

Whilst it was amazing to see so many new walkers taking to the countryside during the lockdown periods for their exercise, many of our towns and villages have remarked on the behaviour of some unaccustomed walkers that are not familiar with the expected traditions. It was therefore particularly useful to be able to publicise the Covid short version Countryside Code. In November 2020, the Countryside Code department at Natural England announced that they are now having a refresh consultation. ‘There are essentially three levels of information: short and long versions for the public plus additional information for land managers and owners for areas of open country (currently incorporated into the long leaflet). The recently refreshed short version was produced this summer to respond to Covid and is easily reproducible at A4, A5, and A6 and can be laminated for use on-site. The full version, whilst not incorrect, has for some time needed reviewing at least in terms of presentation and potential use of social media.’ Looking at the existing material, Natural England invited feedback and we asked our members for their thoughts which we incorporated into one document ( here ) now forwarded to Natural England as part of the initial consultation. Whilst we have not been able to incorporate every individual comment, we are grateful to all members for the wonderful response and the thoughtful comments provided. For further  information please contact the Membership Secretary at membership@walkersarewelcome.org.uk  

There is now a survey that you could complete at https://defragroup.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9sosQ0YlnPyfv3T

 

Jubilee Park – Kirkby Stephen

To celebrate National Tree Week, Kirkby Stephen took their walk group to the town’s Jubilee Park. The park today is a mature woodland but in the 19th century, it was the future vision of some Kirkby Stephen residents.
When developing the railway yard in 1856, land was enclosed and because this was once common land, it was decided to set aside areas for residents’ recreation. The allotments were provided but the park had no initial purpose. It was decided eventually to develop the area to mark the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887. A bandstand and boating lake were added with a rockery and steps up to the higher level.
We have Andrew MacKereth, the well-respected Warden of the Workhouse, to thank for laying out the planting and his “labour of love”, so many years ago as he planted the trees. See the illustration above with the original entrance and planting.
Today, there is a tranquil mature wood of beech and other varieties of trees as chosen by Mr. MacKereth and other self-seeded trees and saplings with a meadow of wildflowers including orchids. The clay bottom pond no longer holds much water but has become a haven for wildlife and for damp loving wildflowers. A recent survey has recorded some rare plants.
The award-winning summerhouse designed by Elaine Rigby and built by G. Middleton Ltd. has replaced the ruinous octagonal bandstand. This unusual design, built of stone and oak, is a beautiful restful place to sit admiring the spectacular views over Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang Edge.
There is a clearing in front of the summerhouse, towards the pond, that has been left to view dark skies which has become a popular activity in the winter months when the nights are longer. Kirkby Stephen Walkers are Welcome have just produced a dark skies leaflet to guide you.
The wood always feels secluded but in autumn after the trees have given their colourful display, there is a clear view of Kirkby Stephen below over the railway bridge. Look out for conkers and beech nuts on the woodland floor.
Just as the trustees envisaged this park over 100 years ago, 500 native trees were planted at Edensyde, the other end of the town in 2010 for future residents to enjoy. These trees are thriving with a few losses to Ash Dieback. How many will be inspired to create new woodlands this year?

Clarion Call – Sheffield’s Access Pioneers

Bradfield  (a village on the edge of the Peak District) WaW say “If you’re looking to find someone an excellent Xmas present why not send away for a copy of this book which charts the history of access to moorland; it is crammed with terrific black and white photographs. Taking photographs in the early part of last century involved carrying a heavy wooden camera and glass plates over many miles of inhospitable moorland. This makes the photographs, many published for the first time ever in this book, particularly remarkable.

CLARION CALL celebrates the role played by the early members of Sheffield Clarion Ramblers’ Group which ran from 1900 to 2015, in the century-long successful battle for the creation of our national parks and moorland access.

To order book(s) just send an email to chrisprescott1949@yahoo.co.uk
Cost £7.00 including p and p.  All proceeds go towards promoting rambling.”

Note: The same book will cost you £14.99 on Amazon. 

Celebrating the Ancient Broadleaf Woodlands of North Hampshire

It’s well known that walking quietly amongst trees and observing nature can help both adults and children de-stress and boost health and well being in a natural way; in Japan they call this forest bathing or shinrin yoku.

We are fortunate to have some fabulous woods near Whitchurch, crisscrossed by Public Rights of Way and this is a perfect time of year to get out there, enjoy the peace, take in the autumn colours and celebrate our amazing trees.

Whitchurch WaW decided against organising a small guided walk, preferring to encourage as many local residents as possible to explore the three very different areas of woodland close to town with their own household bubbles. Children’s activity sheets were made available courtesy of the Woodland Trust and links provided to downloadable trail maps.

Bradley Woods is a small pocket of ancient broadleaf woodland found on a sheltered chalk slope in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding natural Beauty just 2 miles north of Whitchurch. The wood is predominantly made up of Beech, Birch, Oak, Ash and Hazel and is a particular favourite in the spring when the woodland floor is a carpet of bluebells.
http://whitchurchwalks.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Bradley-Wood.pdf

A little to the SW of Whitchurch is Harewood Forest, the largest area of ancient natural woodland within Hampshire, after the New Forest; it provides an excellent woodland habitat for wildlife and is home to a large native deer population. A series of paths crisscross the forest including the Test Way long distance trail. https://documents.hants.gov.uk/countryside/walks/WherwellHarewoodtrail.pdf

Blackwood Forest managed by Forestry England, offers a different experience. This mixed woodland of broadleaf and coniferous trees with its extensive trails, information boards and opportunities for den building and tree climbing makes this a particularly popular wood with children. Ash Dieback has been a particular problem in North Hampshire and you can see evidence of the clearance work being undertaken in the forest to manage this. https://www.forestryengland.uk/blackwood-forest

Remember, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Support National Tree Week and plant a tree near you.

Pointing the Way for Walkers in Cheddar

A new fingerpost has been installed at the bottom of the Gorge near the caves to help visitors better discover and navigate Cheddar Gorge and the surrounding countryside of Cheddar and the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) .
The junction is a key location for walkers,  it is located in the heart of the Gorge where the circular Gorge Walk and long-distance Mendip Way both drop into the village. The lack of signage had long been confusing for some visitors wishing to explore the stunning countryside and take advantage of the fantastic views offered along both routes.
With the support of Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council, Cheddar Walking and the Mendip Hills AONB Unit have teamed up to fund the new oak fingerpost, which is located at the junction of the B3135 Gorge road and Cufic Lane.
Cheddar Walking is a local group that promotes Cheddar as a walker-friendly destination under the Walkers are Welcome scheme, offering a number of walking routes of varying grades, starting from the village centre.
Huw Robson, Chairperson for Cheddar Walking said:
“This fingerpost fills a small but significant gap in the way-marking of some of the iconic walks in the Cheddar area. Many visitors in the lower gorge get confused about where to go to pick up the circular Gorge Walk and the West Mendip Way, and now this is clearly and attractively signed. Cheddar Walking is delighted to have worked with the Mendip Hills AONB on this project and we look forward to continuing to collaborate on initiatives to improve and promote walking in the area”.
Tim Haselden, Development Officer for the Mendip Hills AONB, said:
“We’re really pleased to have been able to help Cheddar Walking achieve this project, which forms part of a wider approach to provide a better and more sustainable visitor experience, helping people connect with nature and promoting Cheddar as the outdoor capital of the South West“.
The Mendip Way is a 50 miles (80km) long-distance trail that takes in all of the special qualities of the Mendip Hills. The West and East Mendip Ways connect Weston-super-Mare, via Cheddar and Wells to Frome. The West Mendip Way is largely in the Mendip Hills AONB and starts near the Bristol Channel at Uphill and climbs the Mendip Hills escarpment onto the Mendip plateau through Cheddar Gorge and down to Wells.
The Gorge Walk is a 3.5 mile (5.5km) circular route around the top of both sides of Cheddar Gorge taking in amazing views and a variety of wonderful wildlife and important habitats.
For more information, please visit https://cheddarwalking.org.uk/

Fallen oak

As National Tree Week approaches (28th November to 6th December), Otley Walkers are Welcome are mourning the loss of a vintage oak tree (Quercus robur) that has stood at the side of an ancient hollow way from Clifton for as long as anyone knows.

The lane was used in the middle ages to lead animals into a wood for grazing and to market at Otley. There used to be an ancient forest that separated the village of Clifton from Otley. This oak and its nearby partner are beside an old wall bordering a field reclaimed from the wood and was probably an acorn seedling long ago.

The tree has always seemed stunted compared to its partner and has been deteriorating over the years.  The partner oak is still looking good but appears to bare the scars of a past lightening strike.  Unfortunately, the Otley group doubt whether the tree will be replaced.

The path to Clifton is one of the most used by walkers to go up into North Yorkshire, and by dog walkers and people out for Sunday afternoon stroll, so these trees were basically a familiar landmark to all of us.  “An old acquaintance gone”, remarked Otley Chairman, Jur Keesen. A piece of history disappeared.   

Enjoy the Beauty of a Woodland Walk to Celebrate National Tree Week

Given the current Covid restrictions Middleton-in-Teesdale Walkers Are Welcome has decided, rather than organising a guided walk, to mark The Tree Council’s National Tree Week by adding an additional woodland walk to their website so that people can still enjoy the beauty of a woodland walk this week or any other. The walk, ‘King’s Walk and Snaisgill Loop’ is a gentle 2.7-mile chance to explore the beautiful Hudeshope Woods in Middleton-in-Teesdale. This is an area of mixed woodland largely made up of Beech, Ash, Sycamore, Oak, Scots Pines, and Larch and at various times of the year of an array of wildflowers such as celandines, dog’s mercury, ransoms, orchids, water avens, and primroses. In addition birds such as ring ouzels, tree creepers, dippers and heron can often be seen. A full description of the route and a downloadable gpx file can be found at https://www.teesdalechallengewalks.net/kings-walk–snaisgill-loop.html .

Walkers, Cattle and Dogs

Otley Walkers are Welcome report  “Finally, some sensible, and potentially life saving, guidance for walkers with dogs around cattle. A sign found near Otley, West Yorkshire.”

Halloween in Meltham

This weekend, families braved the wet and windy weather and enjoyed family friendly walks around Meltham and through their adopted local park, the Pleasure Grounds.
The trails were devised by local mum, Gemma, as a safe alternative to the usual trick or treat!

Trees Also Suffer From Disease

Bingley Walkers are Welcome hasn’t organised any walks during these strange times. However, they have encouraged individuals and families to explore the many walks in the Bingley area, and the greatly increased traffic on www.bingleywalkersarewelcome.org.uk confirms that many have been using their  website for ideas.

Susan Hart of  Bingley   says “28th November to 6th December is National Tree Week and it is a reminder to many of us in Bingley that it is not only humans who are affected by disease.

The St Ives Estate near Bingley was always well-known for its splendid rhododendrons. Sadly, a few years ago many were found to carry ‘phytophthora ramorum’ a contagious fungal disease. This does not appear to harm the rhododendrons but the disease had spread into the larch trees in Betty’s Wood on the Estate, and as a result, all the larches had to be felled and removed.

The area has now been replanted with a variety of trees including cherry blossom, rowan, crab apple, alder, and buckthorn. Bradford Council also collected acorns from the 19th-century oak trees elsewhere on the estate which have also been planted to help to replace the lost trees. Devastating disease not only affects humans, but woodlands can also suffer.

As you can see Betty’s Wood is showing early positive signs of regaining its former splendour.

We too will overcome the Coronavirus and recommence our monthly walks when safe to do so. The welfare of our walk leaders and supporters is paramount.”

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