Sat 30th November, is the Woodland Trust Tree Charter Day, and the Friends of Oxleas Woodlands will have a stall near the Oxleas Wood Café, between 10.30 – 2pm (approx.) where we will be offering some guided walks (as well as self-guided walks), talking to people about the Woodland Charter and Oxleas Woodlands, and organising some family activities like Bark and Leaf Rubbing, woody identification, colouring in activities, and also encouraging youngsters to plant an acorn in a pot and take it home to grow – with a view to bringing it back and planting it in the woods next year.
Tree Charter day is celebrated on the last Saturday of November each year. The Woodland Trust describes it as: “a day for the whole of UK society to unite in celebrating the value and importance of trees and woods to people. “
The first of the three is next Friday, 23rd August in Shrewsbury Park. Kris, Chair of the Friends of Shrewsbury Park, sent me details:
Bat walk Friday 23 August – 8.15pm After a short intro next to the notice board by the Plum Lane car park, Les Clark will lead us through the woods and glades where the bats hang out. Bat detectors supplied. Booking essential – eventbrite.co.uk/e/bat-walk-shrewsbury-park-se18-tickets-55871554323 *Wear sturdy shoes and weather-appropriate clothing *Children must be accompanied by an adult *Walk lasts about 1 ½ hours and small torches are useful *Dogs must be kept on a lead If you have mobility issues or enquiries please contact us on email@example.com and we will help you participate. The trail is a mix of paved path, gravel and grass. If it’s raining neither bats nor us will come out!
The Woodlands Farm bat walk is the following week, on Thursday 29th at 7.30pm, but I see from their web site that it is already fully booked.
Bat Detecting Friday 30th 8pm Meeting at dusk we will use bat detectors to track down these nocturnal residents in their natural woodland habitat. The Friends of Oxleas Woodlands is a community organisation run by volunteers. Walks are free for members & under 16s, otherwise £3 and need to be booked at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lots of opportunities for night-time walks in our local green spaces hunting for bats.
The Friends of Oxleas Woodlands have had an amazing first year, and continue with a full programme of events for 2019, including a Family Walk this Sunday, a Bat Walk on May 10th and activities in May to mark the Tree Council’s Walk in the Woods month. They have made great progress in the restoration of the rose gardens in Castle Wood and Jackwood, have set up additional Conservation Working Party sessions and litter picks and continued to campaign for the preservation of the woodlands. And that’s not to mention the Houses in the Woods walks, their Gardeners Question Time at Shrewsbury House and rose pruning workshops.
The work on the rose garden restoration has been particularly impressive, with many volunteer hours put in to clearing and mulching the beds, in association with the Royal Borough of Greenwich Parks Department. They have plans to re-plant the beds with 265 roses and create interpretation boards, which will include information about the varieties of rose planted, the history of the woods, the Friends of Oxleas Woodlands and the names of donors. They are crowdfunding to pay for the roses and boards: to donate go to: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/freindsofoxleaswoodlands-fow
Each £15 donation will sponsor a rose in either your name or the name of a loved one, which can be displayed on the new interpretation board.
The Friends’ next public event is the Family Walk on Sunday. Their events flyer gave the details:
Guided Walk : Seasonal Family Walk – Sunday 28 April at 10.30am. FEEL a tree, SEE spring plants, LISTEN to birds and other forest animals. This guided walk is designed for accompanied children aged 5 years and upwards. Please note that all places on Guided walks must be booked in advance and you are advised to let us know if you are coming to any of the activities as there may be changes to where and when we meet. You can contact us at email@example.com for activities or firstname.lastname@example.org for general enquires or visit our website www.oxleaswoodlands.uk
The Friend’s programme for May is included below, though I suspect there will be additional events to mark Walk in the Woods month:
Celebrate Oxleas Woodlands by joining us on Monday 6th May at Oxleas Woods Café from 11am. This Bank Holiday Special is part of the Tree Council’s Walk in the Woods month. We will have free activities for all the family, including guided walks, maps, tree dressing, bark rubbing and more. Guided Walk: Dawn Chorus on Saturday 4th at 5am. An early morning walk identifying the birds as they fill our ears with their morning songs, followed by an optional breakfast at the café. Booking your place on this walk is essential. Rose Garden Restoration: Saturday 4th at 10am. As well as weeding the beds we hope to be choosing the mix of rose varieties for the eleven beds that we will be planting in Autumn Walk in the Woods Celebration of Oxleas Monday 6th from 11am onwards. A range of Free activities for all the family. Including guided walks, maps, tree dressing, bark rubbing and lots more. Rose Garden Restoration: Friday 10th at 3pm. The weeds are really growing through now but together we can ensure the old roses take centre stage. Guided Walk: Bat Walk on Friday 10th, 8.30pm Join us as the sun sets to explore the darkening wood, listening for bats and identifying their calls. Booking your place on this walk is essential. Shooters Hill Working Party: Saturday 11th at 10am The Shooters Hill Working Party meets on the second Saturday of every month at Oxleas Café. Woodland Conservation: Friday 17th at 10am. We’ll get dirty hands and have fun doing woodland management activities to ensure a variety of flora and fauna flourish. Litter Pick: Saturday 25th at 10am There are always some incredibly strange finds on our litter pick days, and we have a surprising amount of fun working together in the thick of it.
Amongst the objectives of the Friends is to support the aims of the Woodland Trust’s Charter for Trees, Woods and People which includes ensuring that the woodlands continue to provide a rich ecosystem with habitat for a diverse range of animals, and to advocate and campaign for stronger legal protection for trees and woods, especially those which have SSSI status. Recent concerns, and action, have been about the type of rodenticide used to control rats near the old police station, and the felling by the council of mature oak trees at the back of Crookston Road at the behest of insurance companies dealing with subsidence claims. The oak trees have been in place much longer than the properties for which it is alleged they cause subsidence!
I’ll post again about the Friends’ Walk in the Woods month activities when I get more information, but now is a perfect time for a walk in the woods, with new leaves on the trees and the bluebells and many other wild flowers in bloom.
As you know we have had a couple of Bat walks and Houses in the woods walk; which we are planning to offer again, weather permitting. We also have our regular activities, the litter collection once a month; the Saturday and new weekday conservation sessions with the Shooters Hill Woodland working group and a new gardening project to re-establish the rose gardens at Jackwood and Castle woods. I have attached a poster about this project including the dates of forthcoming gardening sessions.
Our activities have been developed in response to our members’ requests and we are really fortunate to have knowledgeable members who have been able to lead walks and deliver interesting talks on a range of subjects.
Up until now we have been able to open up all our activities to non members as well as members but with our large and growing membership (currently we have 92 members), we are needing to prioritise some activities such as the Walks to members (their friends/families) only. So far, we have not had to turn people away; we have just had to repeat the walks! Needless to say, we are always grateful for volunteers to work with us on the regular gardening, litter collection and conservation activities.
The poster reads:
A massive thank you to all the volunteers who were able to help at short notice with clearing the rose beds at Jackwood Terrace (above). It took a total of 30 man & woman hours to weed the beds.
We have confirmation from the Council that they will add mulch when time allows, but volunteers may be needed to help with spreading.
Parks & Open Spaces did remove the roses from the Severndroog beds (below) with the intention of replacing them with wildflowers. They have now given permission for FOW to replace the roses in the autumn if funding can be secured. We have requested further information on sponsorship permission.
Whilst funding is secured for replacement roses (best planted in the autumn) we are looking for volunteers to help weed and prepare the Severndroog beds during August and September.
We will use this as an experiment to see what days and dates suit different people so please do let email@example.com know when you can join us (see purple box above).
PS. We will offer to find a good use for the wildflower seeds too.
The next event that the Friends have planned is this Sunday, 14th October, when the Friends’ Chair Tom Wareham will lead a repeat of the Houses in the Woods walk. This twilight wander through the woods visits the sites of some of the great houses that used to stand in the woodlands: Castle House; Castlewood; Jackwood; Wood Lodge; Warren Wood and Falconwood. Each participant on the walk is loaned an A4 folder with pictures of the houses before they were demolished. As the appropriate points on the walk it is possible to hold the pictures up against the current scenery and see where the houses stood. What a great way of presenting local history! The stories about the houses and gossip about their occupants are fascinating.
It’s very likely that Sunday’s walk is already fully booked, but contact Sue on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
The next dates for other planned Friends’ activities are:
Litter collection Saturday 27th October 10am – 12pm Shooters Hill Working Party Saturday 13th October 10am, Friday 19th October 10am – 3pm Rose beds & bulbs Sunday 4th November 10am-12pm, Friday 9th November 2pm-4pm
Again, contact Sue for more information. The next members’ meeting is planned for 7.30pm on Tuesday 4th December in Shrewsbury House.
The Woodlands Farm bat walk is this Thursday starting at 8.00pm. Booking is required, call 020 8319 8900, and there is a charge of £6 for adults and £4 for children to help fund the farm’s work. The farm participates in the Bat Conservation Trust‘s National Bat Monitoring Programme each year, surveying for four species of bat at the start and end of July. The first survey this year was the best ever in terms of the number and variety of bats detected, with many contacts with larger bat species such as Noctules and Leisler’s as well as the usual Common and Soprano Pipistrelles. There were fewer bats at the end of July survey, though still quite a few pipistrelles.
It’s time to adjust your night vision for the now annual Bat Walk. After a short intro – next to the notice board by the Plum Lane car park – Les Clark will lead the walk through the woods and glades where the bats hang out. Bat detectors supplied!
This time we ask that you book your free place in advance using; https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bat-walk-tickets-48480937790
A maximum of 50 people allows everyone to get the most out of the experience. If you don’t have computer access please drop a note through the door at 189 Plum Lane with your name and phone number.
Wear suitable footwear (maybe bug spray too) and bring a small torch if you have one. The walk is approximately 1 1/2 hours. Dogs are welcome if kept on a lead.
If it’s raining neither bats nor us will be coming out!
The Friends of Oxleas Woodlands will be meeting at 7.25pm on Friday 21st September. Again, booking is necessary, with details given on the Friends’ poster:
Following on the success of our first bat walk in May where people saw a number of bats we are offering this second walk.
Bat detectors will be provided so that you can hear the bats in action as they hunt for insects, and try to identify which species of bat there are in the woods.
Please dress warmly for the evening and wear footwear suitable for walking in the woods. You may want to bring a torch too!
Numbers are limited to 30, including children, so BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL.
To book your place please email the Friends’ Secretary, Sue Reeve at email@example.com as soon as possible.
We need your name and how many you are booking for; (Max 2 adults and three children per booking, but please contact us if you need to vary this or wish to book for friends too.) We will also need a telephone number to contact you in case we need to cancel due to bad weather. (Bat’s don’t like it when it’s too cold or raining!).
This activity is free of charge to Friends of Oxleas Woodlands members but a nominal charge of £3 per person will be made to non members on the night.
We will meet at the Crookston Road, SE9 entrance to the woods at 7.25pm and set off promptly at 7.30pm.
Seeing our open spaces at night, and the views over the lights of London, is enjoyable even if the bats don’t co-operate, but let’s hope they do!
The recently formed Friends of Oxleas Woodlands are holding a bat walk next Friday, 27th April starting at 8.00pm at the Crookston Road entrance to the woodlands. The walk is free, but places are limited and booking is necessary. Their poster gives the details:
Oxleas Woodlands Bat Walk.
Friday 27thApril at 8pm
Come along and meet our local Bat population.
Use bat detectors to hear the bats in action as they hunt for insects, and try to identify which species of Bat there are in the woods. Bat detectors will be provided. But dress warmly for the evening and wear footwear suitable for walking in the woods. You may want to bring a torch too!
Numbers will be limited to 40, including children. So BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL.
Email the Friends’ Secretary, Sue Reeve at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place.
We will need to know your name and how many you are booking for; (Max 2 adults and three children per booking, but please contact us if you need to vary this or wish to book for friends too.) We will also need a telephone number to contact you in case there is a need to cancel due to bad weather. (Bat’s don’t like it when it’s raining!).
Meet at the Crookston Road entrance to the woods at 7.55pm.
We are planning another bat walk later in the year.
This is the Friends’ first event since their inaugural general meeting on 7th March, but they plan to hold other events such as history walks and wildlife and plant surveys. They have also held a number of litter picking sessions; the next one is on Saturday 21st April meeting at the café at 10am, or at the traffic lights at the Welling Way/Rochester Way Junction at about 10.15.
The bats should be out of hibernation now, feeling very hungry after the long winter, and trying to make up ground on their feeding schedule which will have been delayed by the poor weather. Usually the females will form maternity colonies in May before giving birth to a single pup during June.
Recent bat walks in the area, such as those at Shrewsbury Park and Woodlands Farm have also spotted hedgehogs as they looked for bats, so if you get a place on the walk keep a look out.
The Friends plan to hold another bat walk later in the year, so if you don’t get a place on this one there will be a further opportunity later on.
A new group, the Friends of Oxleas Woodlands has been set up to help look after our precious local woodlands. Tom wrote to tell me about the group:
The group is evolving out of and alongside the Shooters Hill Woods Working Party, and is a response to what we see as the growing threat to the woodlands from a wide range of sources, and to the Woodland Trust’s Charter for Trees initiative. We are working with the Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Dept. and are in the process of recruiting members.
The friends are actively looking for members and have been out in the woods and at the Oxleas Cafe encouraging people who use the woods to join. It is also possible to join through the contact page on their website.
The web site also lists the group’s objectives:
a) To assist with the general management of the woodlands
b) Undertake conservation and practical maintenance (through the Shooters Hill Woodlands Working Party)
c) Undertake activities to support the use and enjoyment of the woodlands, focussing on both adult and children’s engagement with the woodlands
d) Provide a focus for local (and wider) support for the woodlands and to build links with local residents, schools, businesses and other organisations
e) Undertake cultural activities to encourage knowledge, appreciation and personal investment in the history, flora and fauna and general environment of the woodlands
The Woodland Trust’s Charter for Trees initiative “was launched in Lincoln Castle on 6 November 2017; the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest.” This Charter signed in 1217 by Henry III protected common people’s rights such as ‘pannage’ (grazing for pigs), ‘estover’ (collecting firewood), ‘agistment’ (grazing) and ‘turbary’ (cutting of turf for fuel). The new one aims to celebrate the importance and value of woodlands to people today and to protect trees and woods from the threats of development, disease and climate change.
Bank Holiday Monday, 1st May, sees the second annual Kharny Day at Oxleas Wood Café from 11.00am to 5.00pm. This family fun day and dog show, which attracted over a thousand people last year, includes live music, a dog agility competition, bouncy castles, stalls, a BBQ, face painting and a Gladiator knock out for adults.
Kharny Day was set up by Rachael Webb to commemorate the death of her dog Kharn, killed by an illegally-ridden quad bike in Oxleas Woods on Bank Holiday Monday 2013. Kharn, a Staffie/Lab cross, was a special dog: Rachael is a disabled woman, and a qualified dog behaviour therapist, who personally trained Kharn to help her do things she found difficult like emptying the washing machine, supporting her getting up when she fell over and helping her feel more confident in going out. The loss of Kharn was devastating for Rachael.
As well as remembering Kharn, Rachael set up the event to raise awareness that it is illegal to ride bikes in public woodlands and open spaces and to raise funds for animal charities. Last year funds were raised for Battersea Dogs and Cats, this year it is for the Blue Cross Hospital for Animals and the Old Blue Cross Pet Cemetery on Shooters Hill Road.
Good news for bee keepers, and honey lovers. A new apiary, the Oxleas Wood Apiary, has been established in the Royal Greenwich Parks & Open Spaces Depot, Crown Woods Lane, and they are running an Introduction to Beekeeping course and apiary days through 2015. The 8-week course starts on 29th April, and the evening classroom sessions will be held in the nearby Oxleas Cafe.
John Large, who set up the apiary wrote to let me know about his new venture and the course:
Details of the course are available on the Oxleas Wood Apiary website under the tab 2015 Beekeeping Season and registration is available via the online enrolment form. The 2015 Introduction to Beekeeping course commences on 29 April and the Apiary Days are bookable throughout the beekeeping season (May through to September).
For enquiries about the wonderful world of the honey bee I can contacted direct at email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John praised the generosity of the Greenwich Parks and Open Spaces Department who “virtually jumped at the opportunity to provide the present Crown Lane Depot site for the Apiary.” The apiary’s aims are to be self-sufficient, and also to promote knowledge of bees (and other pollinators) and beekeeping in the Borough.
The apiary at Woodllands Farm will also continue with, I understand, support from Sidcup Beekeepers. So that’s twice as much honey coming from the wild flowers of Shooters Hill.
The Greenwich Draft Core Strategy policy protecting local views has been inherited almost unchanged from its predecessor, the Unitary Development Plan. As well as the two “strategic views” of St. Paul’s Cathedral from Greenwich Park and Blackheath Point it provides protection for 11 specified local views, listed below, which are deemed essential to the character of the borough, especially where they include the River Thames and its banks.
Policy DH(g) Local Views
Planning permission will be given for development which would not have a materially adverse effect on the overall perspective and essential quality of the Local Views as listed below and as identified on Map 1:
1. Shooter’s Hill to Central London;
2. Shrewsbury Park towards the Lower Thames;
3. Castlewood towards S.E. London;
4. Eaglesfield Recreation Ground towards Bexley and the Lower Thames;
5. Eltham Park (North) to Central London;
6. Winns Common to the Lower Thames;
7. Thames side panorama from the Thames Barrier open space;
8. St. Mary’s Churchyard towards Mast Pond Wharf and beyond;
9. Docklands panorama from the Wolfe Monument;
10. King John’s Walk to Central London;
11. Millennium Dome from Central Park.
12. Others as set out in the Conservation Area Appraisals
Number 12 is the only addition to the list in the Unitary Development Plan.
The first four views on the list are from various points on Shooters Hill. Number 1, Shooters Hill to Central London, is the breathtaking view, now dominated by the distant Shard, towards the iconic skyline of London. I think the panorama is best seen as it is gradually revealed from the upper deck of a number 89 bus, with the Shard and BT Tower first, followed by the emerging Walkie-Talkie and Cheese Grater as you go down the hill.
A similar view, and one I find more impressive even though it isn’t listed in the Core Strategy, is that from the top of Occupation Lane towards Central London. Here the horizon stretches from the Strata SE1 building via the London Eye, Guys, the Shard, BT Tower, City of London buildings such as the Walkie-Talkie, Cheese Grater, and Gherkin round to Canary Wharf’s ever multiplying set of towers. I’m looking forward to the reopening of Severndroog Castle, the panoramic view from the top is just amazing.
There are several views from Shrewsbury Park towards the Lower Thames (number 2 on the list). Up at the top of the hill, looking north-west-ish there is a long view over towards Abbey Wood, Dagenham and the rolling hills of Essex beyond. Further round, on the Rowton Road side just up the hill from the allotments there’s the prospect of Woolwich shown below. Over to the left the new, strangely decorated, Tesco-fronted monolith of Woolwich Central has started to spoil the view. To the mid-right the towers over the Crossrail station box are growing, and someday approximately in the centre of the view will be the 21-storey towers of the Berkeley Homes’ Royal Arsenal development.
Will this have a “materially adverse effect on the overall perspective and essential quality” of the view? Clearly the Council Planning Committee don’t think so.
From the map I think Local View number 3, Castlewood towards S.E. London, is the superb wide-open misty vista, pictured below, from the Oxleas Cafe over a wide area of south-east London and Kent, towards Sidcup and Orpington. Then there’s the fourth protected view, Eaglesfield Recreation Ground towards Bexley and the Lower Thames, eastwards in the direction of the Dartford Crossing.
Should more local views be protected? Does the policy condition that a development should not have a “materially adverse effect on the overall perspective and essential quality” of a view make it clear what’s acceptable? We have until midnight on the 14th May to comment on the Greenwich Draft Core Strategy, which will guide all planning decisions until 2027. This can be done through the council’s consultation portal, or by e-mail to email@example.com (ensure you add “in response to Royal Greenwich Core Strategy and Development Management Policies” in the subject section), or by using the council’s representation form.
My favourite views from Shooters Hill are the those I can see from my bedroom window, especially the dramatically colourful sunsets over the city such as the one shown below, and the different but equally dramatic colours when the sunrise catches canary wharf’s towers. I don’t think the Planning Inspectorate will allow that in the Core Strategy.