Latest News – Sadlers Wells Woods
For updates our Working Parties and other recent news please see our Autumn 2022 Newsletter on the Newsletters page of this website.
Village Day 25th June 2022
Good weather allowed another excellent Village Day this year with a medieval theme. Our gazebo was pitched at the edge between the ice cream van and the beer tent so there was plenty of foot-fall.
There was lots of nice warm sun with a gentle breeze, so it was very pleasant on the playing field. A few squalls of rain caused people to shelter under our roof, allowing us to approach more people! The breeze getting quite lively towards the end of the afternoon did caused us to take down one display board after the other started to fall over, but minor issues aside the whole day went very well.
Plenty of adults had a go at our “What wood would people use to make the following objects?” quiz, and although most people said it was hard nearly half the entrants got half marks or above, so when people actually thought about woods I think they possibly surprised themselves with how many applications they did know. A worthy winner will receive a bottle of wine.
We had fewer children entering this year, but still a good winner with 5 out of 7 correct answers who will receive a book about trees.
The answers to the competitions are as follows with the object, the wood used and a short explanation of why this wood is chosen.
- Cask (Barrel) – Oak. Oak is a close grained, hence watertight wood which can be bent relatively easily. It also imparts interesting flavours into wine such as vanilla or, when lightly charred, caramel.
- Hurdles (fencing) – Hazel+Willow. Coppiced Hazel grows tall straight rods for the uprights, while willow makes long flexible twigs that can be bent and woven to form the horizontals.
- Keel of Ship – Elm. Elm doesn’t rot when continually immersed in water. The Romans used it for the pilings of bridges some of which still survive to this day.
- Longbow – Yew. Yew is flexible, yet strong. The pale sapwood excels under tension and forms the back of the bow. The red heartwood excels under compression and forms the front of the bow.
- Ships mast – Pine. Pine trees grow tall and straight and the wood is light and strong. Ideal for a mast.
- Spear shaft – Ash. Ash has good strength for its weight, and is also shock resistant.
- Spindles – Spindle Tree. Spindle produces a hard dense, fine-grained wood that is easy to split. It is not particularly durable but is used to make spindles (hence the name), knitting needles, skewers and toothpicks.
Working Party May 12th 2022
On a beautiful spring day five intrepid souls met to continue our work in the woodland, Ann Qinn, Bob Harris and Stephen Hutchinson went to the new wood and cleared up the dying Ash trees previously felled in the furthest area near the A49 and Steve Bell, Mike Thomas and Katherine Hutchinson cleared some of the holly near to the steam where it is becoming rather invasive and shading the ground preventing the growth of wildflowers. It was a great day for doing this as it has been so dry recently that the ground there, which can be rather boggy, was nice and firm. We aim to clear the whole length of the stream of small holly over the next few working parties and made a good start, creating a nice sunny area in-between the old and the new wood where there are already bluebells and celandine and wood anemones, so it should make a lovely glade area.
Working Party March 26th 2022
On a pleasant dry day in the March we met to improve the entrance to the wood which was getting rather overgrown, mainly with holly and elder and some felt might be giving a rather forbidding appearance to newcomers- certainly it was no longer possible to walk two-abreast, which is a far more friendly way of walking. We took as our aim to cut back whatever was needed to make walking two-abreast comfortable in this section. Further along the lower path we have the “holly tunnel” section, which many children like because it feels more enclosed and we plan to manage this with a smaller cleared area to maintain the enclosed feeling. If anyone does not like the enclosed feeling we plan to maintain the upper path with a more spacious feeling. This fits with the way the wood naturally grows, as the lower parts of the old wood near the stream are naturally wetter and grow more luxuriant trees and foliage, whereas the upper parts of the old wood, nearer to the public footpath, often suffer from some water-stress in the summer and so grow less vigorously. We do tend to find that tree losses and damage are more frequent in the upper parts of the wood.
Fred and Anne Morris, Steve Bell, Keith Park and his son Will together with Sarah, Katherine and Stephen Hutchinson cleared a wider path along the entrance track as far as the bridge to the new wood, as well as clearing some small holly branches around some of the newly planted oak trees. Sarah and Will also cleared some felled branches in the new wood into habitat piles
Why are we cutting down trees in Sadlers Wells Wood?
Anyone taking a walk in the new part of the Wood (over the stream) recently may have noticed more tree felling going on than usual, which might seem odd from a charity trying to establish a woodland.
There are three main reasons for this, each playing a part at this time. Firstly a lot more trees were planted than can grow up into healthy adult trees. This is normal planting technique for trees as it helps the branches “close over” fairly rapidly; reducing problems with brambles, nettles etc. and also many trees become damaged or misshapen as they grow so at around this age we have several to choose from to allow only the good ones to grow into mature trees which hopefully will not become dangerous as they grow. If we let them all grow they become too tall and thin and blow over in strong winds. They are now the right size for tree thinning.
Second, sadly our Ash are suffering from quite a lot of Ash die-back disease; several have died and many more are dying and needed removing before they become unsafe. Also there is some evidence that stressed crowded trees cannot fight the Ash die-back disease as effectively, so we hope that by clearing a good space round our most healthy trees we will allow them to fight off the disease and continue growing into mature trees.
Third, we are going to build a pond near the board-walk entrance to the New Wood, where it is usually boggy due to a small natural spring in this area. Trees therefore needed felling both in the area of the new pond and along the access track from the field so that the digger can reach the site to dig the pond. This will be a wildlife pond primarily to encourage great crested newts, which are a world-wide endangered species although fairly common in this area. Funding for this is coming from Cheshire East from some new-housing levy to provide new habitats to make up for those lost to housing. To this end the pond will not be connected to the stream as this would allow sticklebacks and other small fish to get into the pond and eat the newt eggs. Similarly it will not be a problem if the pond dries out to a muddy area in the summer as this will ensure no fish survive whilst still being ideal for the newts. We will then manage the trees to the South of the new pond as a coppiced area, cutting back the shoots about every ten years, which will allow enough sunlight to reach the new pond to keep it healthy and also provide another habitat for our woodland. Animals thrive with some diversity so this should greatly increase the woodland’s value in maintaining biodiversity as well as providing a varied area to look at. The pond will be fenced to keep dogs out, which should help them stay less muddy as well as allowing the pond margins to be left undisturbed, and we are hoping some local groups may be interested in pond dipping in later years once a more mature habitat has developed.
Working Party November 27th 2021
Once again the weather was kind to us and we had a cold and dry day to clear the area where the pond will be dug in the New Year. This was achieved very quickly due to the combined help of John and Ann Quinn, Fred and Anne Morris, Katherine and Stephen Hutchinson, Keith Park with his son Will and partner Lucia and Peter Styles ably supervised by Dave Clapperton and Andy Moore.
Then Andy informed us there was a tree blocking the main path through the Old Wood, so a splinter group set off to clear the path- See separate report below. The remaining people moved onto finishing off clearing the felled Ash from further into the New Wood, which was not finished during the working party last October.
The reason for clearing the felled wood into piles is two-fold; firstly it allows a diversity of wet and dry wood which creates ideal conditions for many invertebrates and small animals, and also walking in a wood which has dead wood strewn around becomes difficult when it is partially rotten as the undergrowth makes it difficult to see the branches which may then collapse as they are walked on. So this work also helps us keep the Wood safe and accessible for the future.
We will now have a break for Christmas and probably January and reconvene in the Spring, when we might work in the Old Wood reducing the height of some of the holly in the areas where we want hazel understory or where the it is becoming over-dominant.
Recently, at our working Party on 27th November 2021, one of the group discovered a substantially sized tree had fallen across the main footpath through the Wood near the far end of the Wood.
Pete Styles, Katherine Hutchinson and myself went to investigate and in the event spent half an hour or so sawing it into more manageable bits and moving it off the path.
Sadlers Wells Wood Pond Update – November 2021
In the middle of November 3 members of Cheshire Wildlife Trust came along armed with plenty of equipment including chainsaws and spent the day (with the help of some of the Trustees and Friends) clearing the area where the new pond is to be located.
More information on this can be found in the recent Autumn 2021 Newsletter. This area now looks very different and at present maybe a little sparse. However, we are confident that when the new pond is dug out and prepared the whole area will look very different and much more interesting. Below are a few photos of the area as it is now. At present we still do not have an actual date when the pond will be dug but will update you as soon as we know.
Bunbury Village Day 2021
We were lucky with the weather for Village Day, pleasantly warm and bright and not too hot. The turnout was splendid and I think we were all so pleased to be able to meet.
We had a nice big tent with two tables and display boards showing the new work in the woodland as well as some photos of the trees and flowers.
Several new Friends of the Wood signed up and we collected a few subscriptions as well.
We had a number of excellent entries for our “Woodland Olympics” Quiz, which was won by Belle Borrowdale for the under 18’s. She did overestimate how long the snail would take to travel 100m a little but was otherwise fairly accurate. Sandra Upham won for the adults; she actually underestimated the time for a snail but was pretty accurate with the other answers.
Finding out several of the answers turned out not to be very tricky, partly of course because snails, frogs and grass snakes move at different speeds depending upon the temperature. We could not find anywhere online telling us the speed of a grass snake so we e-mailed the British Herpetological Society and received a very helpful reply from a PhD student who spends his summer catching, measuring and letting go grass snakes. He informed us no-one has actually ever measured their speed and he is thinking of setting up an experiment to find out!
My idea was to have animals in a food chain, with a person added for scale. Frogs do eat snails, grass snakes eat frogs, badgers eat grass snakes and they are all woodland animals which live in Sadlers Wells Wood hence this exact food chain.
I hope everyone had as much fun with the quiz as I have had and many congratulations to our winners. See you again in 2022.
News from Bunbury Parish Council
Following the sad passing away of Ron Pulford, Bunbury Parish Council have appointed Mike Thomas as their nominated Trustee of Sadlers Wells Wood.
Mike is a very familiar face in the village having lived here, in fact in Sadlers Wells itself, since 1979.
He has always been fully involved in the village community and we are sure that his working knowledge of council procedures will be of great value to us.
Following on from Derek Burrows who has recently joined the Wood as a trustee we are delighted that we have 2 more new appointments Becky Mitchelson and Jess Hitchmough, both of a considerably younger generation who we are sure will inject new life and enthusiasm into caring for the Wood.
Becky Mitchelson, who has lived in Bunbury for 4 years now with her husband and 2 boys Samuel and Finley. They live just by the Wood and came to appreciate its value in our community during the first Covid lockdown when the boys could go and run around, play tag in the wood and wade in the stream to burn off some energy and spend some time in the outdoors. Becky is a GP working locally in Northwich and at St Luke’s Hospice.
She says “I have always loved being in the outdoors and find it a great way to de-stress so will often pop to the Wood for a quick stroll after a busy day. I am so pleased to be able to contribute to looking after this little oasis of calm that is Sadlers Wells Wood.”
Jess Hitchmough, who moved to Bunbury just over four years ago after spending time overseas in Dubai and Australia. Jess and her family of three children; Elsie, Cassian and Maggie-Sue and long-suffering husband Gary live on School lane. Jess is just starting a second career as a children’s mental health practitioner after many years as a teacher and more recently as Deputy Manager of Early Birds Pre-School here in Bunbury.
She says “ I fully realised my love for the British countryside whilst living overseas; there is nowhere on earth quite like our ancient woodlands. I discovered Sadlers Wells Wood quite by accident whilst looking for somewhere quiet to walk with Maggie-Sue when she was tiny. We are so lucky to have this beautiful place in our village and I look forward to supporting this cause and helping the Wood flourish.”
Spring Working Parties
On Thursday 6th May Derek Burrows kindly spent much of the day felling trees and large branches which are getting too large to cut down with a bowsaw. Stephe and I cleared branches away from the path and pulled the rope when we needed to ensure a trunk or branch fell in a specific direction, such as away from the A49 or the fence. We left a large amount of wood lying on the floor of the Wood as it would have been more work than we could manage to clear all of this away on the day.
Despite the dreadful weather earlier in the morning, and the forecast of heavy rain all day on 8th May five brave souls turned up at the Wood at 10am as suggested, and remarkably the rain stopped at about 9.55 and held off until about 11.45, by which time we were ready to pack up anyway. We had a really morning sorting out the large tangle of wood which had been cut down into “Logs” and “Fluff” and stacking it up into the two different sorts of habitat piles.
My thanks to Tom, Jess, Dave and Stephe.
There is rather a backlog of thinning to do in the New Wood, and in a few weeks we plan to mark out some of the Ash to fell. However, we know that some are diseased so we plan to wait until the trees are further out into leaf so that we can assess the most healthy trees to leave in the hope that some will survive. Stay tuned for more working parties in the near future once we have managed to fell the most affected trees.
A New Trustee for Sadlers Wells Wood
At our Annual General Meeting on 15th April 2021 we were delighted to appoint Derek Burrows as a new trustee for Sadlers Wells Wood.
Derek is well known in the village having lived in and around the area all his life and from his local business as an electrician, property developer and builder. He has already designed, made and installed new board walks over the muddy approaches on both sides of the bridge to the new woodland- so if the muddy slippery areas there were discouraging you from visiting the new area of woodland I would encourage you to go and try out our new board walks.
He said “I used to play in the woods when I was a boy, and I am delighted to give something back” a lovely comment which I feel reflects well on his wonderfully positive approach to caring for our special woodland.
Recent damage to trees on the Northern boundary
Following the recent high winds two trees were damaged on the Northern boundary of the wood.
One large branch overhanging a private drive came down in the night and fortunately the resident’s son was able to clear it the next day.
The second large branch did not detach fully from the tree and so remained hung up high in other branches presenting a greater hazard especially as it was over-hanging the footpath which runs next to the wood. We taped off the footpath to warn of the danger and asked a local tree surgeon to take down the branch.
They made it look very easy; throwing a line around a nearby branch, climbing up the rope then winching up a chainsaw and sawing it off from high up in the tree causing it to fall neatly along the woodland path. Not something I would have wanted to do myself though.
This is the sort of thing that the Friends of the Wood valuable contributions allow us to do; looking after the trees and keeping the woodland safe for everyone to enjoy.