Our woodlands are fighting back. Fortunately, the Government saw sense and did yet another u-turn on one of its half-baked policies, that of selling off the nation’s publicly owned forests and woodlands.
What gets SevenStreets is how anyone could walk though one of these cherished places and see not leaves but banknotes on the trees. Yeah, that’s exactly what we think of when we’re running or walking through the region’s ancient woodlands ‘there’s some fiscal opportunity to be wrung out of these tall, woody things. Why has no-one liquidised these oak trees’ assets before’?
It’s a chilling thought isn’t it?
So, in celebration of the places we love, here’s SevenStreet’s seven favourite local woodlands. Use them, they’re still (at least for now) yours to freely enjoy.
Launched last year, this vibrant community forest in West Derby consists of 20,000 new trees, sprouting from two former brown field sites on the edge of the city, creating 23 hectares of green space, wildflower meadows, a community orchard and seasonal wetland areas.
Mab lane recently launched its ‘Green Gyms’ initiative, with weekly al fresco fitness sessions (starting this morning, event listing here) so why not slip into your lycra body suit and join them?
Such is the variety of landscapes on our doorstep, some of our oldest, most mysterious woodlands rub against some of the city’s toughest urban developments. Such is the case at Croxteth, where Littlewood, in Croxteth Country Park, contains ancient oak, beech, ash and sycamore, with crocuses just coming into bloom.
Croxteth Hall Country Park was once one of the region’s biggest country estates, stretching northwards towards Preston, and westwards to Crosby. It was the ancestral home of the Molyneux family, the Earls of Sefton. After the death of the last Earl it was given to the City of Liverpool.
With 500 acres of country park, a walled garden and a working farm and exotic specimens flowering in the hot houses, there’s still something of the Downton Abbey about Croxteth. That is, until you cross the boundary. Then it’s all a bit Shameless.
We love the idea of this one – for generations, Bidston Moss was the region’s largest, and smelliest refuse tip. A huge, ever-growing mountain of methane, threatening to flatten B&Q.
Now it’s been transformed into a thriving community woodland, with a large fishing lake surrounded by ‘recycled’ boardwalks, cycle routes (including a 2km parameter trail) and saplings thriving in the fertile ground (well, let’s face it, thirty years of Pampers has gotta make for great compost).
Bizarrely, Bidston Moss is now a venue for Nordik Skiiing events (which is suited, apparently, to the steep terrain of Bidston’s ‘mound’).
In 2007, Bidston Moss became the home for the world’s first Green Billboard – a living structure of willow trees stretching over 20 metres.
Bidston Moss shows exactly why woodlands and green spaces are so important – and can, given time, transform even the sorriest of our city’s blackspots.
Calderstones Park (main pic)
WIth its ornamental gardens, 200 year old walled kitchen gardens, Japanese Garden and herbaceous border, Calderstones is a traditional suburban park, with a touch more mystery than most. Within its borders lie clues to the city’s ancient past. A Ha Ha (hidden trench) can still be seen in front of the Mansion House, which shows that, beyond the trim gardens, all that lay ahead was empty heath land and common grazing land. The venerable Allerton Oak is estimated at 1,000 years old and, according to legend the ancient ‘Hundred Court’ sat beneath its branches. Much older still, the Calder Stones are relics from an ancient burial ground.
Shown on a map of Kirkby in 1769, the Acornfield Plantation is one of the few remaining woods of the original Manor of Kirkby. Within, you’ll find oak, birch and alder trees with beech and Scots pine which were planted for timber production during the last century. The lowland in the centre is a squelchy carpet of sphagnum moss, ponds and soft reeds – which is, really, what the whole of Kirby is built on. Wonder if that’s where the term ‘sink estates’ came from? Probably not.
Bought out from private ownership by ‘The Friends of Storeton Woods’, with a little help from the Woodland Trust, this ridge-top woodland enjoys fantastic views over to the Clwydian Hills. Since their stewardship, the 32 acre woodland has thrived. They’re on the site of an old quarry, and you can spot the old quarry railway lines if you know where to look. Although it’s easier to spot the stone that was once hewn from here, as it was used to build Birkenhead Town Hall. The quarry was filled with soil from the Mersey Tunnel excavation, and is now a mature, tranquil and much loved local woodland.
An 18 hectare Speke success story, Mill Woods is one of only two sites in Liverpool classified as ancient woodland. The Friends of Mill and Alder Woods protect and preserve this special spot, running conservation days, coppicing and creating pathways through the undergrowth.
The main species in the woodland are oak, ash, alder, elm, birch, sycamore, willow and hawthorn. The best time to visit? Early spring, when the woods are carpeted in wild English bluebells on the leeward side.
A network of forests throughout Merseyside and Cheshire, the Mersey Forest has been in the forest creation business for 15 years. Their 30 year plan – to plant 8,000 hectares of new woodland, an area the size of York, delivering a host of environmental,social and economic benefits. You can help them by buying a tree to dedicate to someone, for just £10. What’s the chances that’s a gift that’ll be around longer than some Elizabeth Duke earrings? A lot more romantic, too. Check out Mersey Forest’s website for a host of information on the woods and forests on our doorstep, and exactly what you can be getting up to in them…
Main pic, Calderstones Park: Formidable Photography
Mab Lane pic: Anthony Beyga
Storeton Woods pic by: Menu4340