The Friends of Haddon Wood

Everything interesting we can think of about Alhampton's community woodland. To leave a comment on a post, click on its title and scroll down…


February 2014 – latest happenings and date for the FHW AGM

If you’re a Friend and on Hilly’s circulation list, you may have seen this already, but I thought it worth posting for the record.

Hi all

A quick update and an advance date for your diary.

The AGM will be on Thursday 15 May at 7pm.  I’ll send out a reminder nearer the time when I’ll be asking you to confirm whether or not you’re coming so we can sort out a suitable venue, hopefully at no cost.

The committee’s still working with the WT to sort out the pond, as the costings are coming in much higher than anticipated.  We think we have a solution and we’re waiting for the go-ahead; don’t expect to see any work before the ground dries out considerably!  Probably April, we’re advised.  We’d hoped to have this sorted out in the autumn but Jon’s departure and some bureaucracy got in the way…!

HW blog LogoFriends of Haddon Wood now have a logo, and you’ll see it when we put up some notices asking people to clear up after their dogs.  It’s great that we now have quite a lot of people regularly walking there, and as we’d all like to enjoy it, please remember poo bags if you bring your dog.  We have no bins for disposal, so you’ll need to take them away.

Despite the weather, last weekend the committee managed to get out and clear the remaining fallen trees at the top of the hill, as well as re-staking a surprising number of the latest planting.  The high winds have meant that a lot of the new trees have been blown over, some of them completely.  If you’re inclined to do some helping out, feel free to take your lump hammer and straighten them up and hammer the stakes in – we’ve found that simply pushing them in by hand doesn’t give them enough purchase to stay up in the next strong wind.  You’ll see that some tree guards in field 3 (bordered by the road and Jacob’s Lane) have yellow spots and have been angled sideways.  Please leave these as the contractors have done this to indicate trees which have failed and need replacing.

We’ve reminded the WT that there should be a kissing gate by the tin tabernacle; we met with Tim Russell, the new manager, on Friday, and he’s going to take this up with the contractors.  We’ve also got plans for improvements to some of the field entrances and informal gaps through hedges, so watch this space.  ………………………………………………………………….. there’s a great picture at the top of the latest blog entry (which also shows the angled tree tubes!) which is about the (almost) final planting by the contractors.  They’re still holding about 200 trees which can’t be planted until the pond’s dug.  And do please comment if you visit the blog – it would be good to know that it’s of interest.


So, there you have it – couldn’t have put it better myself…

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Final major planting, December 2013

So, after the community planting days in November, it was the contractors’ turn, this time to finish the job …barring the odd replacement and a few tweaks here and there. December already – though it still feels like early Autumn and pretty much perfect planting conditions which, in my opinion, constitutes any type of weather that doesn’t involve either waders or danger of frostbite. Not only was it the final push, but someone else was going to be planting the remaining 6,000 odd whips, so double bonus. All the rest of us had to do was stroll around with the dogs, admiring someone else’s work, which we did and here, in no particular order, is the result.

Actually, there’s just one more thing and it’s an odd one. Perhaps it’s the contours of the last fields, or the fact that Matt and his team have incorporated sweeping avenues, rather than the straight lines of the first phase, or perhaps it’s that we’ve now got shrubs – like yew and holly  – but suddenly there’s a completely new perspective to the wood. Albeit one of plastic tubes, it’s become a proper wood. The sort that, if you squint your eyes, you can imagine in years to come. Not only that, but you can see if from the A371 passing Castle Cary station, which means that it’s arrived in every sense. All we need now is a picture from there to prove it…. Rosie?!

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Planting, Stage 2 – the Community day…

So, the second – and final – stage of planting is underway.

It doesn’t seem that long since the first planting in March, but a world away in terms of planting conditions. I’m glad we didn’t know then how long it would be before we could ditch hats, scarves and gloves and one of the latest Springs on record arrived.This time around it was overcast, but the ground was soft and damp – and a lot warmer, so, hopefully, a good start for these trees.

Keinton Mandeville Primary School started us off on Thursday 14th November, followed by Oaklands Community School the next day and they made a great start between them. Saturday was the open community planting day and it was grim and grey – the sort of day when you might think sensible people would find better things to do inside, maybe by the fire – and really we had no way of knowing how many would turn out. A fantastic 50 did, though and an amazing selection of cakes – thanks to Hil, Liddy, Jessica and Margie – kept us going, so by the end of the session we’d got about 850 whips in the ground. All that despite Network Rail’s (seemingly) endless closure of the A371 between Castle Cary and Haddon Wood too.

This only leaves about 5,650 to go – thank goodness for the contractors who are finishing the job during the course of this week …and for Rose, who took proper pictures.

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October’s Great Storm…?

How were you affected?

Here in Somerset we were deluged with storm warnings and advice from the Met Office during the run up to the end of last month. It’s a tricky business, keeping a handle on our perennially unpredictable weather and the MO, forever on the alert to avoid another Michael Fish blooper, duly broadcast about a week’s worth of advice on how to stay safe and protect property.

The wind picked up over the week-end and rain came and went …and then came again, with more serious intent. On Sunday night the noise on my roof, here in Castle Cary, was incredibly loud, the streets of were awash and I actually considered sleeping somewhere different from my usual spot, directly below a chimney stack that needs re-pointing. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I woke up on Monday morning to… well, nothing much of note – just the usual aftermath of a severe rain storm, though none of the shops was flooded this time (in itself a miracle). Things were a little different over in Haddon Wood. notanotherthistle had been out and about since the early hours of Monday morning and during the course of the day reported back.

In some quarters Alhampton is known as The Swamp (it’s low-lying, a bit damp, on IMG_0411heavy clay) and yet again it seems to have been a bit of a target – the combination of wind and rain had taken a toll on a fair number of hedgerow trees throughout the village. Without exception the victims were either overloaded with burgeoning clumps of ivy, or had forked trunks leaving them vulnerable.  (NB The WT operates a policy of non-intervention, presumably on the basis that if trees fall, the resulting rotting wood will form wildlife habitats of their own, but I wonder if there’s anything that would trigger an exception to that stance – Elfin Safety?).

The trees in Haddon Wood are still too small to have attracted the storm’s attention, but there were one or two lucky escapes: a large ash in the hedgerow up the side of F2 has dropped half it’s canopy, but it looks as though most, if not all, of the young trees are poking up through the foliage!

(Thanks to notanotherthistle for picture contributions)