Blog - Woodland Activities

Golden Hill Wood

Golden Hill Wood

by Peter, 2 April, 2024, 1 comments

We had been looking for a wood preferably with a open area for sometime.   We had a look at a few that were not right for us, thinking it was never going to happen.   One day I opened an email and there it was - in September 2022.  Golden Hill Wood, I immediately called Stuart, the area manager, and we arranged to view it.   Well,  it was just perfect and literally five minutes away from our home, so the ball started to roll. It was time for some research on equipment, we got some good advice locally, so a chainsaw, brushcutter, and other equipment was purchased.  Having a walk around with Stuart, taking on some good advice, we then started to work on our new heaven. Golden Hill Wood has some old broadleaf trees but mainly spruce, fur and a few Douglas Firs amongst others.  The wood not been cared for in many years, so I set to taking lower branches off to head height, a few had to be removed including a couple of tactical removals with trees broken half way up, removing the many brambles that had stored from the ground to the canopy in a web like manner.  I found myself pulling brambles from one tree only to see I'm pulling a tree further away as there was so much of it.   Patience is a virtue and I got there.   It is not the end, but everything is now manageable so I have a few hours work and then a chill out. I have a couple of tarpaulin areas which the granddaughters just love and embrace and lend their little hands.   When Roe or Red Deer are about, we have two sets of Buzzards along with Red Kite and. of course, Bunnies.  We spent New Years Eve 2022-23 there and I've made a wild camp under a basher. I'd recommend anyone taking a wood on.  It is so peaceful and calming.
Knox Wood - first impressions

Knox Wood – first impressions

by Alan, 19 February, 2024, 0 comments

We purchased Knox Wood in August 2023, part of Boltonmuir Wood, an old woodland site on fairly boggy ground in East Lothian. Our five acres are split 50% almost pure birch (Silver and Downy) regenerating [about 20 years old] and 50% mature Scots Pine that is well thinned over mixed natural regeneration.  All of the site has previously been used for commercial forestry so there is plenty of natural regeneration from Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Silver Fir and Larch. Some oak, rowan, hawthorn and beech regeneration is also present. Roe deer use the site but are not having much impact on the trees, just ticks to be aware of.   Plenty of mosses, ferns and bracken that indicate acidic soil conditions. Our plan is to improve the site for biodiversity and use some birch for green wood working.  So far we have been taking out non-native conifer regen, leaving a few that are suitable for bird nesting and to provide a bit of evergreen shelter. A few Rhododendrons to eliminate as well, easy enough using the lever and mulch technique. We will create some standing deadwood and add to the fairly good level of deadwood from previous birch thinning that is now well rotten.  We will add a few native species, such as Aspen and maybe more Willows for weaving.   Also hoping to grow some edible fungi on site, there are wild mushrooms and I am sure plenty of people already roam around there collecting them.  As Alien Spoons, I teach green wood working so will thin out the birch for spoon carving, shrink pots, bowls and other treen.  Maybe make some besoms and other products with it as well.    [caption id="attachment_41045" align="aligncenter" width="675"] Birch regenerating[/caption]  
tree planting

Do I need stakes for planting in new woodlands? If so, what sort of stakes are best?

by Angus, 1 February, 2024, 1 comments

A recent article in the New Scientist suggests that staking newly planted trees may be pointless for trees that are planted in gardens and parks.  James Wong argues that stakes are often not needed because trees have a natural tendency to grow straight and vertical. Indeed, staking may cause damage because the tie that connects the post and the tree can cut into the tree.  Also the tie-up to the stake creates a weak point where a sapling can snap in high winds. Even if it doesn’t snap, it develops an unnaturally thick trunk at that point to stop it from breaking. Despite this, you might still want to use a stake in a garden or park for reasons unrelated to the growth of the tree - to avoid it being run over by a lawn mower or accidentally walked into. For forestry planting, using stakes is a very different matter. Stakes are easy to spot and help forestry contractors to find their new trees for weeding and for “beating up” - the odd phrase used by foresters to refer to replanting where trees have died. Using stakes can also help make the trees grow straight which is important for producing top-quality timber. However, the most important function of tree stakes in most new woodland planting is to keep tree guards vertical and securely in position. Most stakes for tree planting use treated softwood and are sawn, but there is a case for using longer-lasting sweet chestnut pales made by splitting. Such stakes are readily and cheaply available from suppliers in East Sussex and Kent. These stakes are strong and easier to bang into hard, stony ground. As well as being long-lasting, sweet chestnut does not need treating so for those using biodegradable tree guards and wanting to “leave no trace”, these may be the best stakes for new planting. Using untreated stakes like this avoids putting extra chemicals into the environment. Another option, often used for new planting of hedgerow trees, is using bamboo canes to hold the saplings and their guards, usually very light spiral guards. Canes as stakes have the added advantage that they are light and easy to transport: when you are planting any new trees there is lots of material to move around the site - guards, young trees, stakes and spades. getting ready for some serious planting  
sun in woodland

Wonderful solitude

by Shaun, 26 January, 2024, 0 comments

The end of lockdown, and the peace that came with it, was what made me want some natural solitude as the world got busy again. Having a share of a near 100-acre ancient wood should provide that given there are no public footpaths through it, a locked gate and farm land all around. It was late summer when I ‘got the keys’ and I was recovering from major surgery, so over the autumn into winter I’ve pottered and observed.  Each visit the place looks different as the leaves fall, different fungi come and go, and the wood is deluged by each storm. Storm Babet blew down the largest silver birch tree. The kids discovered it – wading through the thick brown bracken in a clearing I’d yet to explore. They had fun running along it. So far, no more have come down, and I’m glad I bought the Beech Tree wood owners insurance before the first storms hit. There is about one acre of older pine that stand majestic, almost as a guard for the younger trees beyond. We’ve re-planted our Christmas tree here. I hope it takes! Then it’s a grassy break, that allows machinery to manage a drainage dyke, across a wooden bridge and into the 4 acres of dense young birch coppice. This needs a lot of thinning out, if owt else is to grow there. The west boundary is a huge sheep field and the sun pours in. It wasn’t until my fifth visit that I managed to get through to a far corner of the plot and find another small clearing, where clearly deer had been laying on the dead bracken. I hesitate to say basking in the winter sun ….....  in Yorkshire! There’s evidence of badger setts too but none seem active. Woodcock abound and I will have to control the dog in spring. It isn’t silent but I’m surprised there isn’t a greater dawn chorus when I visit. Perhaps the buzzards and red kites are scaring smaller birds off.   I certainly hear those birds of prey about. Is this a sign of climate change or a lack of tree diversity? To help the both I’ve planted some cuttings of hazel and walnut, and a variety of seeds – conkers, acorns, sloes, sweet chestnuts, sycamore and walnut, but goodness knows if anything will germinate, or whether the squirrels have had a feast!  It was a rushed affair as I wasn’t completely recovered from surgery when I did it. There are lots of plots within the greater wood and I’ve met many of my neighbours, who are all very friendly. At least one is an outstanding wildlife expert and I’m sure there’s lots to learn from them.  I don’t have great plans as yet other than increasing the diversity of trees. A fig tree at home next to a west facing wall does really well.   Will the west facing aspect enable similar here?  There seems to be some quite large structures within the wider wood. On my plot, there’s a small hut and I don’t have plans for anything more. I just want to observe for a year, open up a couple of paths through the jungle and create somewhere flat to camp. There is wonderful solitude and the dog loves it – even though she has come back with ticks. Neighbours have told me their 'tick stories' and I’ve noted that they wear thick overalls and boots.   Probably best  if I string up a hammock to watch the sunsets!  
From meadow to woodland.

From meadow to woodland.

by Tatevik, 22 November, 2023, 0 comments

Anyone who has worked with us at Hive Cleaning, knows that sustainability is one of our most important guiding principles, along with being an ethical employer and exceptional cleaning standards.  We take sustainability ambitions seriously and have reduced our direct emissions to zero and are on track to reach Net Zero in 2025.   However, we didn’t want to just focus on our day to day operations (being technically ‘green’) but wanted a direct involvement with nature and natural ecosystems; that’s how our idea of a reforestation project was born.  We fell in love with a meadow (near Clovelly, in North Devon), a beautiful part of the world.  The meadow has stunning views and we could immediately imagine how tree planting in the meadow could further enhance the biodiversity and beauty of the area. [caption id="attachment_40611" align="aligncenter" width="675"] Hive Wood Sign[/caption] We have renamed Rosedawn Meadow to Hive Wood, and we are planning to plant over eight thousand trees over the next 15 years. As a part of our wider ESG strategy (this documents the company's impact on the environment) , we are committed to : ● Recreate historic hedgerows around the boundary ● Only planting local native broadleaf tree species ● Measuring the sequestered carbon via Carbon Trust ● Never selling the carbon credits ● Never felling the trees (except where necessary in terms of  managing the wood) ● Improving biodiversity and creating a haven for flora & fauna ● Using Hive Wood to promote biodiversity and carbon reduction / sequestration. We started the planting the trees and the hedgerow in March, this year.  So far, we have planted eight native species:  sycamore,  rowan,  white  poplar,  sessile oak,  buckthorn,  black alder,  blackthorn and  hornbeam.   
Sweet chestnut finger-jointing at InWood in Whitesmith,East Sussex.

Sweet chestnut finger-jointing at InWood in Whitesmith,East Sussex.

by Angus, 15 September, 2023, 1 comments

Chestnut coppice grows in abundance in the South East of England, especially in Kent and East Sussex. However it is quite small diameter, being harvested about every 15-25 years. The timber is very strong and resistant to rot. For some uses it is better than oak and unlike softwoods it does not need treating with chemicals. The problem is how to turn these relatively thin stems into useable pieces of timber and a small company, InWood, has found an answer. I was visiting The Woodland Centre to collect a batch of six-inch decking that the factory team had made for me, and they offered me a tour round the factory. Their answer is to glue it together using finger-joints which are actually stronger than the wood itself and you can use it for decking, cladding and even structural beams. My decking boards had machined-in grooves to stop it being slippery and there were other options for width such as their three-inch or four-inch boards. Peter Black, the factory manager, explained how they buy sweet chestnut planks and process them by sawing them to width, taking out the knots and any wood that is rotten or infested with woodworm. He says that there are also occasional shotgun pellets which need removing - many of the chestnut coppice woodlands in East Sussex are used for pheasant shoots. The sawing produces short pieces of the same width and thickness but the highlight for the visitor is seeing their German machine which automatically cuts a tooth-like pattern in each end and puts polyurethane glue on it. These sections are then pushed together to make long, virtually defect-free planks. The factory generates plenty of waste wood which burns well and burns hot - it is either used for heating the workshop or sold for firewood. Enviously I looked at the part of the workshop where they use a huge hydraulic press to make “Gluelam”, being laminated beams from planks. These bigger timber beams have lots of advantages over the alternative of using large sections of tree trunk: the wood is much more stable, is less likely to twist & warp, longer sections can be made and there is often less wastage. InWood’s front man is Alan Ellis whose phone number is 01825 872550, and he is happy to supply trade or retail. On their website (www.in-wood.co.uk) you can find some spectacular garden rooms which they make from laminated chestnut. We got our Sweet Chestnut decking from InWood because of the quality, and their sensible prices. This method of producing timber supports sustainable British Forestry as well as the coppicers.  Successive generations of coppice workers have used their skills since at least Roman times, when sweet chestnut was first introduced to southern England.
The 'key' to my woodland

The ‘key’ to my woodland

by Michele, 20 June, 2023, 0 comments

I remember my finger hovering over the send button to contact Dan Watson from woodlands.co.uk after seeing two woodlands for sale. One had a majestic old tree, the other a beautiful stream running through it.   Dan contacted me to give me directions so I could initially view the woods alone. The directions were clear and despite a little ‘off roading’, my two spaniels and I found the woods and spent a couple of hours wandering around them.   It was January 2023 and despite the woodlands being very dormant, the quiet, still beauty of the woods opened my lungs and for the first time in a long time I felt I was breathing with ease. A calm swept over me. My orientating skills failed me and I never found the tree in the  photo. I arranged a second viewing with Dan a week later. This was beneficial as Dan was full of information on the trees, plants and wildlife, and a little history on the area. The tree was more stunning than the photo. My dilemma now was which wood to buy as together they would make 9 acres of stunning woodland.  Taking the plunge to buy both was both scary and exhilarating. I may finally get to preserve a little bit of this beautiful world we seem so driven to destroy. The woodlands website was brilliant and pointed me in the direction of  a local conveyancing solicitor.  The process was unbelievably swift and smooth. A couple of telephone conversations and relevant paperwork sent, signed and returned through the post  - five weeks later I owned what is now Lackenby Dell.   Dan phoned to congratulate me and said the key to the gates would be posted. Within days that ‘nugget of gold’ arrived and so my woodland adventures begin.
A foraging day with Gourmet Gatherings.

A foraging day with Gourmet Gatherings.

by Alison, 8 June, 2023, 0 comments

What a fabulous day spent with Chloe, a professional forager, educator, wild food consultant and chef, along with her truffle hunting spaniel, Samphire.  We enjoyed a fully immersive foraging experience near the banks of the River Severn in Chepstow, Monmouthshire. Wales, she explained is bountiful at any given time of the year,  you just have to know when, where and how to find it!   We weren’t disappointed, encountering an incredible array of edible flora and fauna amongst meadows, hedgerows, salt marsh coastal flats and ancient woodland, locating over 30 herbs, roots, flowers, vegetables, field mushrooms, nuts, seeds and estuary herbs. Chloe’s enthusiasm and passion shone through as she  described how to identify, sustainably harvest and utilise all of the incredibly nutritionally superior and flavour-packed wild ingredients. Who knew such a treasure trove of nature’s bounty lay tantalisingly within our reach.   A foraged feast in the wild was a perfect end to the session, enjoying a myriad of pre-prepared dishes and accompanied by the freshly picked produce of the day. Her incredible menu included Creamy oyster & field mushroom soup with miso and brandy, Orange birch bolete mushroom puff pastries, Mugwort focaccia, Venison, cider and wholegrain mustard broth, Elfcup mushrooms stuffed with 3-cornered garlic and wild walnut pesto with fresh garlic leaves, Jack by the hedge and cleaver hummus with Primrose blooms, Fennel and chickpea salad, Roast brace of pheasant stuffed with Scott’s Pine with allspice, cranberry and honey, Roast Muntjac venison shoulder with garlic, thyme and juniper, served with rose and red clover jelly, and bacon cured chicken of the woods mushroom nuggets with wild plum barbecue sauce. Chloe had a treasure trove of knowledge too as she detailed the folklore, medicinal and nutritional benefits. Of particular interest were the use of  medicinal mushrooms which are thought to strengthen the immune system   : Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Cordyceps, and particularly Turkey Tail, where a preparation known as Krestin has been used as a supportive therapy against Cancer in Japan for decades. She explained the origins of the word ‘wort’.  most likely derived from the Anglo Saxon word for wound or hurt, implying curative properties such as Navelwort, St John’s Wort and Mugwort, but occasionally implying a strong physiological effect of a negative nature such as poisonous Ragwort too.  Folklore is related to the Yarrow plant, Achillea millefolium, the latter meaning thousands of leaves due to its fluffy, feather like appearance.  Achillea is related to the legend of Achilles who always carried Yarrow on the battlefield to stem bleeding - it’s a wonderful styptic.  To protect him before the Trojan war his family collected Yarrow, considered to be a cure all miracle herb and immersed it in water. They dipped his entire body but held him by one foot which didn’t get drenched in the magic water, hence the expression “Achilles' heel” The muddy banks of the Seven Estuary harboured some hidden gems.  Scurvy grass or spoonworm, a species of flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae were taken aboard ships in dried bundles to combat scurvy. Wild spinach, Plantains, Radishes and Cabbages line the estuary coast.  Wales has a seaweed tasting like truffles with a hint of garlic called Pepper Dulse.  Woodruff is a beautiful woodland plant growing in whorls, which when dried tastes like Amaretto. The enchanting Elfcup - a dainty red mushroom adoring the forest floor appears to emit a puff of ‘fairy dust’ when picked.  Nature, as always, a treasure trove of beauty and magic.  The cautionary mantras “Never munch on a hunch” and ‘If in doubt, leave it out” are wise words indeed. The poisonous Ragwort with its yellow flattened flower heads appears similar to Wild Cabbage, and the Hemlock Water Dropwort can be deadly, all parts of the plant are highly toxic and ingestion can be fatal. A member of the carrot family it has many edible lookalikes such as celery and parsley which can be confusing and dangerous for a novice.  It grows in damp areas - wet grassland and woodland, river and stream banks, canals and in the vicinity of ponds and lakes Foraging is fun! But there are a few rules to observe. Please contact the landowner for permission to forage on private land, and do not forage on public land for commercial gain.  Avoid areas which could have been sprayed with chemicals such as land bordering farmland. It is illegal to dig up a wild plant by the root or bulb unless you are the landowner or have the landowner’s permission. Always forage sustainably and with care, observe how prolific the plant is and never take too much.  For more information,  please contact Chloe Newcomb Hodgetts : Foraging Course and Guided Walks Purveyor at Gourmet Gatherings: www.gourmetgatherings.co.uk .

Next Page »