Trees are varied in age and type, which makes the land ideal for an educational, productive woodland. A steep bank running down to the river Goyt is a council designated “Site of Biological Interest” as ancient woodland, mainly oak with ash, beech, hazel and hawthorn, on top of old coal mine tailings. The rest of the site is self-sown ash, willow and oak with 1,500 trees that we planted in 2015.
There are 200 hazel in coppice sections, six basket willow beds, flowering hedgerow trees and plenty of brambles! The planting consisted of many native species except ash so that we now have some 35 varieties of large and small trees. The soil is heavy, slightly acid and wet in many places so we have lost few trees to drought.
In addition, there is an orchard of 30 trees and a vegetable garden run by those whose houses back on the the land. Clearings are mostly rough grass and perennial weeds and we are trying to develop a wildflower meadow. The wood is used by local people for recreation, adventures, education and events. Permissive paths lead through towards a local park across the river.
In September 2016, we set up a co-operative to own and manage the land. Currently we have over 100 members – but still a shortage of volunteers for the heavier tasks.
The tour will look at the ecology of the site, the progress made, weed control and the challenge of public access. Stout and water-resistant footwear is advised.