A September walk in Hagg Wood revealed many of the pleasures to be found in an English woodland in autumn. Several types of fungi, acorns on the paths, a bumper bramble crop, and deciduous leaves “on the turn”. There were still some summer migrant swallows over the fields and we will soon be welcoming the winter visitors, Redwings, Fieldfares and maybe Waxwings.
The current crisis has certainly highlighted how lucky we are in Dunnington to have ready access to the fields and woods that surround us. Indeed there are reports that there has been an increased demand for houses in rural areas after the long lockdown as people appreciate the need for open spaces. However this makes it even more unfortunate that the path closure prevents easy access for the people who need it most.
We are looking forward to a happier future when our Conservation Working Parties can be resumed, as well as our trips to beautiful destinations and meetings with interesting talks. We always welcome new members, including young people wanting to protect and enhance our local environment for everyone’s better future. Please visit our website www.fohw.org.uk for further details of how to join us.
If you have not already been in touch with us about the disruptive path blockage from Intake Lane, please do get in touch via our website https://hagwood.wordpress.com/contact/ or by writing to FHW, 5 Church Lane, Dunnington, YO19 5PT. But even if you have contacted us in this way, you still need to fill in a User Evidence form that we can present to the Planning Inspectorate to assist our public footpath claim so please email email@example.com for a form so that you can play your full part in achieving a successful outcome.
Despite the Friends not being able to carry out our usual Conservation Working Parties in the Wood because of Covid-19 and the disruption caused by the continuing path blockage from Intake Lane, the lovely local amenity of Hagg Wood is not out of mind. We still need to be able to enjoy this local natural habitat which is beneficial to so many people’s physical and spiritual well-being, and even more so in these difficult times. The difficulties caused by the pandemic have forced us to appreciate simple pleasures and reflect on what is important to us, including the joys of our local natural environment. Despite the lockdown this year we have had much pleasant weather with a good mix of sunshine and rain, that will be memorable to us despite the difficulties. Earlier in the Spring, the author heard a cuckoo coming from the direction of the Wood, so the natural world carries on.
The Forestry Commission have been busy contracting out work clearing the main ditches in the Wood to create better drainage. Poor drainage can result in trees dying and boggy paths, though slower flowing ditches also can create attractive habitats for amphibians and attractive native plants.
We are looking forward to a happier future when our Conservation Working Parties can be resumed, as well as our trips to beautiful destinations and meetings with interesting talks. We always welcome new members, including young people wanting to protect and enhance our local environment for everyone’s future. Please visit our website www.fohw.org.uk for further detail of how to join us.
If you have not already been in touch with us about the path blockage from Intake Lane, please get in touch via our website https://haggwood.wordpress.com/contact/ or by writing to FHW, 5 Church Lane, Dunnington, YO19 5PT. But even if you have contacted us in this way, you still need to fill in a User Evidence form that we can present to the Planning Inspectorate, so to do this please email firstname.lastname@example.org in order to play your full part in achieving a successful outcome.
Midsummer is upon us and I commence this article with sweaters and warm clothes on. However May was hot and very dry, June was cooler and quite wet and July has started cool, wet and windy. How have the variations affected the wood? The trees are laden with leaves, the undergrowth is abundant and high and woodland flowers are in full bloom throughout. Some of the more open spaces are filled with purple or white foxgloves coming into bloom. I am sorry that I do not know the names of the many flowers that are in the wood, but even not knowing their names they are a joy to see. The sharp eyed visitor to the wood may even spot the small clump of orchids that has been a summer flower for at least the past four years. The increasing number of flowers is in some part due to the efforts of the monthly working parties in keeping the invasive plants in check.
The foliage on the trees does make it difficult to see much birdlife, but judging by the amount of singing and chirping there is a good population of birds. In August, many of the birds will be starting their moult in preparation for their southerly migrations, or taking a break after rearing their latest brood. Then the singing will diminish in volume.
In a recent visit it appears that fires have been lit, possibly for picnics or similar. However no such fires are allowed in Hagg Wood as fires pose a real risk to the wood, especially if we have another dry spell, with the amount of undergrowth there is. Enjoying the countryside also means taking care of it!
There is still time if you have been inconvenienced by the recent path blockage from Intake Lane, to let us know, with details about how important this access path into the wood is to you, and how long you have been using the wood, via our website https://haggwood.wordpress.com/contact/ or by writing to FHW, 5 Church Lane, Dunnington, YO19 5PT. Further details of our activities to help everyone enjoy the wood can be found on our website http://www.fohw.org.uk
What a joy it can be to walk in Hagg Wood at this time of year and hear the birds singing. It was especially enjoyable one May morning, when a cuckoo could be heard calling persistently and very clearly, for at least fifteen minutes. In these uncertain times there is something very reassuring to know that a cuckoo has made his amazing journey from Africa, surviving the many hazards on route, to arrive in our local wood, with the intention of finding a mate and breeding.
Although the lovely display of bluebells has finished for this year, there is still a huge variety of other seasonal flowers in the wood, such as foxgloves, yellow rattle, meadowsweet, vetch and of course the yellow iris in the pond and crater areas
Unfortunately all our planned events for this summer have had to be cancelled because of the Covid 19 virus, but as soon as Forestry Commission say it is safe for our work parties to restart, with all the appropriate distancing and protection measures in place, we will let our regular volunteers know.
Meanwhile our concerns continue over the persistent blockage to the main footpath into Hagg Wood from Intake Lane. Amongst other things, this is likely to have added to the parking problems at the end of Intake Lane, as more people think that they need to drive there to reduce the much longer walk they need to make to access the Wood. The blockage has also greatly inconvenienced many people, both young and old, fit and less able. Our public footpath claim for a permanent resolution of the blockage will be considered in the coming months by the Planning Inspectorate. Evidence of your own past use of the blocked footpath is a key part of this process. So, if you have not already done so, please get in touch with us via our website https://haggwood.wordpress.com/contact/ or by writing to us at 5 Church Lane, Dunnington, YO19 5PT.
Yes it is. However, while the Definitive Map Modification Order process is ongoing, the main Forestry Commission entrance to Hagg Wood from Intake lane will unfortunately remain closed. The current blockage has been in place since October last year when two new landowners took the action to the annoyance of the local community.
The blocked gates on the Forestry Track
It is still possible for you to gain access to Hagg Wood from the Route 66 Cycle Path and then turn right if you are coming from Dunnington at the open field and follow the edge of the wood until you reach the public footpath sign (see Arrow 1) The sign is currently dislodged and leaning against a tree and has been reported to City of York Council. The other access point is via the Hagg Lane entrance (see Arrow 2).
You should still make sure that you observe the current Government regulations and guidance on social distancing during the current coronavirus restrictions.
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.