The City of York Council has now confirmed that it is sending our public footpath applications for access to Hagg Wood from Intake Lane on to the Planning Inspectorate. If you have not already done so, this makes it even more important that you contact us via our website https://haggwood.wordpress.com/contact/ if you have used either of these paths in the past, so that we have the strongest possible evidence of their public use.
The coronavirus pandemic has underlined the importance of daily exercise for everyone’s physical and mental health. Public footpaths have long provided an easily accessible way for many people to be able to enjoy the physical and mental refreshment that a walk in the countryside can provide. Preserving such future access, for both young and old, able and less able, to the delights of our local Community Woodland, such as its fine display of bluebells, primroses and other Spring flowers, reflects our own value system that we must defend. So please do help us achieve this desirable goal.
Birds fortunately have wings of their own that can surmount unnecessary imposed barriers, and the many improvements made to Hagg Wood over the last twenty years have underpinned an increasingly impressive variety of birdlife. Looking back over my notes from last year’s Dawn Chorus I see that it featured Spring migrants such as Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Blackcap as well as resident Treecreeper, Robin, Wren and Greater Spotted Woodpecker. This is very visual, audible and measurable evidence of the value of the physical and financial effort put in by all our membership.
When we eventually resume our work in the wood we will continue to expand the biodiversity, improve the glades, maintain the paths, protect the precious bluebell area and keep the rhododendron at bay in at least part of the wood. Access may be problematic but we will still need everybody’s help to look after this woodland.
What strange times we are living in, very sad for so many but let’s hope that those remaining will be wiser and stronger at the end of this trial.
The wood is now looking beautiful at the moment. Our expert ecologist, Martin Hammond, author of the York Biodiversity Audit, said at the outset of our project that we should concentrate our efforts in the southern area near the abundant indicator species of ancient woodland. This we have done and it has paid great dividends – in recent years the carpet of bluebells has expanded magnificently, interspersed with hundreds of white stitchwort and yellow celandines. The ditches have been full of primroses and we expect now that the buds on the trees are just about to burst into life. It will be so wonderful to be able to walk freely again in our wonderful English countryside once the current restrictions are over.
What a shame that the old and the young have since last October been so inconvenienced from taking pleasure in these simple joys by the blockage of the path into the wood from Intake Lane. One of our friends, an internationally renowned fly expert, loves to explore the wood but at the age of 87 he cannot walk the long distance that the blocked gates entail.
The Friends of Hagg Wood submitted two claims to the City of York Council in 1997, to get the footpaths recognised and put on the Definitive Right of Way Map. After the Ombudsman was called in to look at a claim in Fulford, the Council was ordered to make progress and our claim is currently being processed. We’ve been gathering information to add to our claims and would like to thank everyone who has come forward to help us. The consultation period ends 17th April and the outcome depends on the strength of the objections. We will keep you informed.
Have you thought about joining the Friends of Hagg Wood? It’s £4 individuals, £6 for a family for usually 3 lectures, 2 cycle rides, several social occasions and monthly working parties each year once we return to normal. Your support at this difficult time would be immensely encouraging as we work tirelessly to get our paths open again. We have no doubt that we will win.
A walk through Hagg Wood to view the magnificent display of bluebells. The route out was by Hagg Lane public footpath entrance and then returning along the Route 66 (Public Bridleway) to Intake Lane.
Unfortunately pictures do not reflect the full beauty of the area. You need to visit in person to appreciate the vista.
Under the blossom on Route 66
The police sign on the damaged Public Footpath signs at the end of Intake Lane is there to warn people who have travelled by car – not locals who have walked. It does not mean that Hagg Wood is closed or out of bounds. There is no rule that says you cannot walk in Hagg Wood every day if you wish.
The first signs that Spring is on the way in Hagg Wood are to be seen now, with a good display of snowdrops close to the notice board at the start of the Stone Road together with the pollen-filled catkins swinging in the breeze, hanging from the hazel trees. The green shoots of bluebell leaves are breaking through, promising a good display of flowers in April and May. The birds are starting to sing in the hope of attracting a mate and establishing a territory within the wood.
There is so much to enjoy in Hagg Wood. It therefore remains very important that convenient public access to our Community Woodland along the path from Intake Lane is restored as soon as possible. The current proposals by the City of York Council for public footpath recognition would ensure such public access, so long as the whole process is not delayed considerably by objections to these very welcome proposals.
26 members enjoyed the traditional New Year lunch at the Sports Club on 12th January with about a dozen hardy people participating in a pre-lunch woodland walk beforehand. The morning began quite wet but soon brightened out.
On Wednesday 25th March we have been invited to join the Dunnington Conservation Group for the annual display of photographs and talk by Terry Weston on his travels and enjoyment of the wildlife both local and distant, in the previous year. This is always a popular event and will take place in the Reading Room at 7.30pm.
On the afternoon of Saturday 18th April, we are organising a boat trip along the Pocklington Canal between Melbourne and Gardham Lock. There is an option to join some of the group for a meal at the St Vincent Arms at Sutton on Derwent afterwards. If you would like to join us for the boat trip or meal, please let David know on email@example.com as soon as possible. The cost of the boat trip will be £11 per head.
Our next working parties are scheduled for Thursday 19th March and Thursday 16th April. We meet by the children’s play park at 9.45am and share cars to drive up to Cottage Plantation in Hagg Lane, where we are met by a member of Forestry Commission who will be joining us in our work. All volunteers will be very welcome, we normally work until 1.00pm with a coffee and cake break midway.
We have recently had the good news that the City of York Council intends to recognise as public footpaths the two access paths into Hagg Wood that we claimed back in 1997. We have received a very large number of messages of support from local residents for our campaign for reopening public access from Intake Lane, including many stressing the importance of such access for families of parents, grandparents and small children, both able and less able, as well as for health walkers, scouts, beavers, guides, brownies and cubs.
Unfortunately, a handful of objectors can still risk great local unhappiness by making the process of getting the access paths open again much longer than it needs to be. The outstanding issue of parking along Intake Lane is a question that needs to be resolved separately, and which we can productively engage in to find a viable solution. Closing the main path has failed to stop people wanting to use the wood and may well have resulted in more people wanting to park, to reduce the much longer walk into the wood that they face with the main access path blocked.
Having the main access path recognised as a public footpath under the responsibility of the City of York Council also helps to alleviate a second main reason for the blockage, that relating to liability. The possibility of selling the forestry track, from Intake Lane to the entrance to the wood, to the Forestry Commission, which we would be willing to assist in, would offer further benefits to the existing landowners.
Let us hope therefore that good sense prevails so that all can benefit.
Our next working party is to be held on Thursday 9th January commencing at 10.00am. However, due to the current restriction on gaining access to the wood via the Intake Lane entrance we will again be using the entrance from the end of Hagg Lane next to Cottage Plantation.
Any volunteer who travels by car we would advise you to park at the Children’s Play Park at the start of Intake Lane by 9.45am. If you normally walk into the wood could you also meet here at 9.45am. We will then drive in a limited number of our cars to Cottage Plantation, where the Forestry Commission has arranged for us to park, and then walk into Hagg Wood along the public path.
We will again be working in the Millennium area of the wood and all the necessary tools will be provided. Please bring gloves if you can, and wear stout shoes or wellies.