Welcome to the Great Wood Blog

This Blog allows visitors to keep up to date with news and events at the Great Wood. If you like the pictures shown here, you can click on them to see a larger image.

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The Bluebells are out!

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New path with fallen aspen leaves

With help from the Wednesday Group, we have completed the restoration of an old path linking Heather Glade down to Middle Way and Hut Glade. It passes through a dense block of aspen trees which are currently losing their leaves and creating a carpet of yellow.

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Spring flowers

Although the bluebells have largely finished, there are still lots of flowers emerging in the wood.Red Campion


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Work Party activities

Much of our work party activities consist of managing the growth of vegetation. This is done for several reasons. Firstly it is important to maintain public access and safety – so dangerous trees and blocked paths have priority. But in most cases we are maintaining and improving the structure of the wood to encourage bio-diversity through creating and maintaining a range of habitats. Left to itself, the wood would revert to dense woodland with many fewer species of plant and animals.

Here we are removing re-growth of Rhododendron, which as an invasive foreign species can swamp the landscape if left unchecked.

Other recent work includes planting out new Hornbeam saplings to fill in gaps along the Cuffley Camp boundary and clearing a blocked culvert which was causing Rowbourne Brook to flood the junction of Middle Way and the Blue Trail.

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On 28th August, there was a ‘first’ for the Great Wood when a wedding blessing was hosted in ‘Hut Glade’. At the critical time, the weather held off and a great time was had by all.

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Heather in bloom

The heather is flowering at the moment. The large block of heather north of the car park is not very visible as there has been no cutting/flailing of the bracken this year. On the other hand, this has meant that the heather growth adjacent to the path leading south from Six Ways has been able to grow:

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“Howard’s Way”

We have been working recently on the path that runs north from Six Ways down to Brook Glade. As the memorial bench to our late member Howard Aiken is situated at Six Ways, we have dubbed this path “Howard’s Way”.

Back in 2008, this path was very narrow and overshaded by trees:

Howard’s Way in 2008

Then in late 2011, contractors cleared the area and widened the path. At first, the area looked devastated, as shown in this photo from New Year’s Day 2012:

Howard’s Way in 2012

Now, nearly 10 years on, nature has completely regenerated and the new growth was beginning to encroach the path and narrow it. So we have been working to cut back the edge growth, coppicing the birch and hornbeam, while leaving the bramble edges. In this 2021 photo taken at the same position as above, one can see in the distance how narrow the path had become, while in the foreground, the work to clear the edges can be seen.

Howard’s Way in 2021
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Improving the west side of the Yellow Trail

The section of the Yellow trail between the two arms of Rowbourne Brook has always been very wet and muddy. In order to create more light and moving air around the area, we have completed extensive coppicing of birch and hornbeam, while the extensive willow has been pollarded. We have also attempted to create drainage channels at the muddiest parts of the path.

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New picnic table

Our new picnic table, just inside the wood, is designed for accessible use by wheelchair users.

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Oak Processionary Moth

All visitors to the wood should keep alert for the presence of the caterpillars of Oak Processionary Moth which has been detected in the Wood. The caterpillars are grey and very hairy and form long head-to-tail chains as they climb trees, predominantly oak.

Aside from the damage they do to oak trees, the hairs can cause severe rashes or even breathing problems for people and animals and you are advised not to approach them. If you see any, please report to us, to the Council or to the Forestry Commission. (This is a notifiable species). Please take careful note of the location and photographs would assist – but please do not approach them.

Further information can be found here.

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