Out in the woods: July 2016

As we are now in the second half of 2016 it is time to report on our activities so far this year.

Our Guided Walks programme has been running smoothly and it has been encouraging to have had such good attendance and interest in the range of subjects that the walks cover. We have enjoyed introducing people to the outstandingly beautiful woodland that is Sherrardspark Wood, as well as welcoming back some of our regulars.

We started off in February with “Before Sherrardspark Wood – The Rocks Beneath the Trees” when wood warden and geologist Nikki Edwards led a sizeable group through a passage of time with her engaging and comprehensive coverage of local geology. Fascinating –  I do hope that there will be a repeat of this walk again next year.  “Mammals in Sherrardspark Wood” gave an excellent introduction to the mostly unseen creatures that share the wood and this was followed in April by two old favourites, “Spring Birds” and “Cowslips and Bluebells”. All were led by our own, very knowledgeable, wood wardens.  In May we ran “Take Better Photos in the Wood” with photographer Dave Foster.  First offered last year, this walk generated a lot of interest and we were pleased to welcome David again.  Also in May, wood wardens Gary and Peter took us on their annual “Discovery Tour of the Wood”, an excellent introduction to the woodland for newcomers and always something new to learn for those more familiar with the wood.  “Bugs and Other Little Woodland Creatures” was hugely supported by many children and their parents – great fun was had by all!  Another of our most popular walks is “Foraging in the Wood for Food and Medicine” with Mary Barton. Her extensive knowledge of all things natural is unsurpassed and I am sure the participants benefitted enormously from all her recommendations.
 
The current programme of guided walks is continuing until October, so do please have a look at Guided Walks page to find full details of what is to come. If you are looking for something rather unusual perhaps “Dowsing for History” is the one for you?   This used to be a very popular part of our programme in the past so do come along and prepare to be amazed!
 
As well as providing a scheduled programme of walks, we also respond to requests from individual organisations interested in exploring Sherrardspark Wood.   In June we welcomed two very diverse groups:  one from a local section of the University of the Third Age, and the other a local mother and infant group.   Both walks were much enjoyed by the enthusiastic visitors and wood wardens. We hope that they will be returning in the future.
 
The wood wardens are busy keeping the area a safe place for visitors to enjoy as well as preserve our wonderful environment for the future. The ranges of tasks carried out recently included clearing rubbish and fence repair. During a morning in March fifteen refuse bags were filled and many large items such as wooden crates, sinks, plant pots, etc. were disposed of.  A major repair of wooden fencing near the Ayot Green entrance to the wood took place over several weeks in June.

If you would like to find out more details about the work undertaken throughout the year by our amazing group of volunteer wood wardens, please visit Work Parties page. Two working parties take place each week on a Thursday and Sunday morning so please do give some thought to helping with the conservation work, so vital to preserve this extraordinary and precious woodland for future generations.

It is also worth noting that as a group of committed and hard-working wood wardens volunteers we also meet socially, be it as a walking group exploring the local countryside, a thirsty bunch visiting a pub after work in fresh air, or a group of like-minded people attending talks about nature. In June we had a lovely afternoon for our annual summer tea party in wood warden Ann’s delightful garden. As 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Sherrardspark Wood Wardens’ Society we are preparing a special exhibition in November at the Maynard Gallery, Welwyn Garden City.

Regular walkers in the wood will know that the heather at Sefton Plantation is making a pleasing recovery this year, aided by selective removal of self-seeded birch trees and bracken, following a devastating invasion by heather beetles over the past two years.  August is flowering time, when we will see just how good the recovery is. We look forward to the return of what used to be a most glorious carpet of purple flowers covering the area.

So far the weather this summer has been rather disappointing but the wood remains as fascinating and beautiful as ever, whether the sun shines or the rain pours down.  It is always there for us all to enjoy throughout the ever changing seasons. We still have some summer time to come, but after that we can look forward to those glorious autumn days when the wood changes from green laden trees to a woodland floor covered in amazing colours of gold, bronze and red in September.
 
Marian Dawson
Wood Warden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foxglove and bracken. Photo Bev Curtis

Photography walk with Dave Foster. Photo Marian Dawson

Foraging for food and medicine with Mary Barton. Photo Marian Dawson

U3A members explore the woods with Peter Cade. Photo Marian Dawson

At the end of litter pick on 10 March 2016. Photo Mike Fox

Summer tea party. Photo Marian Dawson