The Woodland Walk is a long narrow strip of Ancient Woodland that runs for nearly a mile through the Downham estate. It appears on old maps as the boundary of Shroffold Farm, and thankfully was retained when the houses were built in the 1920s.
The woodland is now part of the Green Chain Walk and contains some magnificent old oak and ash trees, as well as relatively rare wild service trees. There are glades of bluebells in the spring, and several clumps of wood anemone. The wide variety of birds and insects there include woodpeckers, long tailed tits and stag beetles.
The Friends of the Woodland Walk were set up 13 years ago by a group of local residents who were concerned about the neglected state of the woodland. It had become a target for flytipping, graffiti and vandalism.
The Friends group arranged monthly work days to clear the accumulated rubbish and enlisted the help of Glendale to ensure that the bins were emptied and the gates locked at night. They obtained various grants, including one from the local Assembly, and bought new benches and litter bins. Bat and bird boxes were made by pupils at Bonus Pastor School, which borders the Woodland, and loggeries were created to encourage stag beetles and other insects. Recently, large sections of the path have been resurfaced and Green Chain / Capital Ring signage improved.
Now, the woods are used by several schools as well as large numbers of local people, whether they are walking their dogs, taking a short cut to school or shops or just enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. Our long term aim is to preserve the woodland as a local nature reserve by leaving dead wood as habitat for insects and fungus and brambles as shelter for birds and small mammals. However we are aware that the public want a safe and attractive environment in which to walk, so we do cut back undergrowth close to the path and plant native bulbs to add some spring colour.
Our work days continue on the last Sunday of each month, and new volunteers are always welcome, regardless of age or fitness level. We meet at one of the entrances to the woodland at 2pm for a couple of hours’ work. Our next session is on Sunday 27 January 2013, meeting at the Haddington Road gate (near the junction with Oakshade Road). Gloves, tools, refreshments and friendly company are provided!
Please ring Janet Hurst on 020 8698 6805 for any further information.
More information about local events and activities on the Downham Interagency website