Walsham le Willows


 A coloured painting showing the new logo for the Wild Wood group.

Walsham Wild Wood aims to improve further our village environment through the restoration of woodland. We feel passionately that people benefit from contact with wild spaces, providing a sense of connection with the countryside, a space to walk and exercise and to experience nature. In turn these green spaces provide a haven for wildlife and contribute to maintaining the biodiversity of our countryside. Our local children are part of the Walsham Wild Wood project through their Forest School programme.

We have a lease from the Old Town Trust for a field behind the Walsham le Willows allotments which we have started to plant with native trees.

Anyone who would like to help us with events or just to find out more please contact: Lorna MacKinnon on 01359 259140 or on mackinnonlorna@gmail.com

Walsham Wild Wood is for everyone - do join us!

Current Events

The Entrance Gateway

We are currently planning our entrance gateway. This is now intended to start construction some time from February 2016. A member of the Steering Group had personal contact with one of the trustees of the Clark Bradbury Charitable Trust, which is based in Cambridge and specialises in supporting environmental projects in East Anglia. They were very keen to be involved with the Wild Wood and have covered most of the costs of the gateway. We also received a grant of £210.00 from the Waitrose local charities scheme (the green plastic tokens).

 A photograph showing some of the components waiting to be converted into the entrance gateway.

In May 2016 we built the entrance gate as detailed above. The design is based loosely on that of the lych–gate at the entrance to the cemetery and is intended not only to provide a “statement entrance” but also a seat, a shelter from the occasional downpour, and the site for a notice board and a sightings board.

 A photograph showing three men relaxing during the building process.
John Stebbing, Richard Belson and Alison Martin relaxing !

The Open Gardens, Gardens Weekend have awarded the funds for the roofing, but otherwise the project is being completely financed from outside the village.

 A photograph of the wooden entrance gateway in a field.
The completed Entrance Gateway.

And this year we have also introduced the temporary tarp shelter. This facility is for the school circle at the far side of the wood. We have put up the posts and the school will bring up the tarpaulin whenever they are using the circle. Not only is this extremely useful when we are subjected to the odd shower but it is also used during the even odder very sunny hot weather !

 A photograph showing  a tarpaulin shelter.
The new tarp shelter.

This year we have scheduled some Open Sessions when members of the Steering Group will be working at the wood. This will give villagers the opportunity to come up and see what we are doing, learn about the wood, check on sponsored trees, and even help with the work! The final date this year is Saturday 29th October 10.00 - 12.30. Can we again thank everybody for their support over the past four years, and hope that you will continue to enjoy the wood as it slowly develops. We are particularly grateful for donations from individuals and for the continued support of the Old Town Trust.

Past Events

Last winter, 2015, we did most of our planting right at the end of October and managed to complete work before the rains set in and cause large parts of the wood to revert to a state of slippery muddiness. We have put in just over one hundred plants this year; a few have been standards (Oak and Lime), but most have been shrubs including Hawthorn, Dogwood, Hazel, Holly and Spindle. The main aim has been to fill in gaps, but also to strengthen existing planting. We are very keen for the wood to provide good habitat for birds, small mammals and reptiles, and it has become obvious that if we are to build up suitable areas of scrub we need a higher density of planting. What we have done this year is a good indication of what we will need over the next few years.

At the beginning of December 2015 the Wild Wood Steering Group had a work–morning in order to put additional hand–rails on the footbridge and to erect two poles. The footbridge has been very successful in encouraging people to walk through the wood and is particularly popular with children. We were not keen to see small children hurtling into the ditch and therefore decided to install double hand rails on both sides of the bridge. The poles will be used to allow the fairly quick erection of a tarpaulin; this is already owned by the Primary School and can provide shelter from both sudden showers and intense sun, as well as quite a high level of fun!

We had an excellent School visit at the beginning of October 2015. The children toasted marshmallows around the fire resulting in lots of sticky fingers. The children played in the den and generally explored the site looking at leaves and grasses. We also had some natural weaving set up. A good active morning for us all!

 A photograph of a group of children and two adults sitting in a field.
The children toasting their marshmallows.

We had our 2015 Autumn planting day at the end of October. We continued with Richard‘s planting scheme with the stock from our nursery bed. We also replaced a couple of failed sponsored trees. It was a gloriously sunny day and although it was hard work, we are all delighted with the progress.

In November 2014 we had a further sponsored tree planting. It was a slightly wet and rather muddy day but everyone pitched in and a great range of trees were planted. It was excellent to have trees sponsored by the school, by local groups, by families, by individuals - all coming together and making a super space for the community.

 A photograph of various people planting saplings in a field.
‘The primary school team planting their tree

 A photograph of two people planting a tree in a field.
‘Constance and Ashley

 A photograph of several ladies planting a tree in a field.
‘The WI team with one of their trees.

The AGM was held on the 14th July 2014. The Chair gave her report. The past year has seen successful sponsored planting, maintenance and growth. It was also noted that a variety of wild flowers and grasses are appearing adding to the success of the site.

The School have started to use the learning area as well as the general site. The plans for next year are for a second annual sponsored planting.

The Teasurer gave his report showing a stable income through the sponsorship for the intended 2014 planting. The committee gave huge thanks to the Chair, Janette Winch, who has stood down after leading the committee through the demanding formation of the Walsham Wild Wood. Lorna MacKinnon has been elected as the new Chair. The School‘s Parent Liason Officer, Derek Sargeant, has stood down due to work commitments. He was thanked for his work.

Janette Winch now becomes an associate/advisor.

We have had three work mornings during January - June 2014. We used deadwood to create a hide and a hedge break. We have mulched and mulched! We have monitored the trees and can report very few losses so far and we have a scattering of wildflowers slowly establishing.

We were involved with the school‘s poppy planting on site. 90 children came up on the 1st April 2014 to sow poppies and other wildflowers along the church ride as part of the 1914 commerations. Alison Findlay led the morning helped by Zoe Torode, (a parent/teacher) who managed the den building area and Lorna who managed the mulching teams. We always mulch!

We can remind you that we had a general works morning on the 14th December 2013 to prepare the site for winter.

Sponsored Trees

Walsham Wild Wood has been planted with many sponsored trees. If any of these trees die, as inevitably some will, we replace them at no cost to the sponsor. We will let the sponsor know and invite them to plant the replacement tree if they wish, otherwise we will do the planting.

We had a great response to our Tree Sponsorship scheme and sponsors include families as well as individuals and the sponsorships have been for all sorts of reasons. We had a very successful planting of the sponsored trees on the 23rd November 2013. Sponsored trees will be labelled so that families and friends can come along to see their trees as and when!

 A photograph a group of people surrounding a sapling.
‘Members of the History Group by their sponsored sapling’

 A photograph showing a family surrounding their sponsored tree.
‘The Frost family by their sponsored sapling!’

We had a Saplings Coffee morning way back on the 12th October 2013 for people to contribute any spare saplings to the nursery.

On the 22nd of June we had our Summer Event. We set up a circle of activities for the children in the Forest group area. We made jewellery from Elder stems, Dreamcatchers with Willow Hoops and Forest Crowns by finding leaves and grasses to stick on to Head Bands. We finished up with using whittled sticks to toast curls of bread dough over the pit fire. Lots of children came and they all found something to do - a great atmosphere and the weather just about held!

On the 25th of May we built a bridge over the far ditch to enable access across the site from the far side. It was a lovely summer day so the various 'discussions' about how to build it were 'softer' in the sunshine! There is now a mown path to the bridge and it is already in use.

On the 17th March we had our final spring planting. We planted a mix of donated whips from The Woodland Trust including crab apples and hazels. We also cleared most of our holding stock from our allotment bed and a couple of trees that had been donated directly to us. It was a very successful morning with good support from local families. The children did really well with the planting amd mulching and then had lots of fun splashing in the puddles at the end - great atmosphere.

On the 4th March we planted 6 mature birch saplings. These have added height to the site as the rest of our saplings are rather small and will obviously take a bit of time to grow. We need to encourage the vision of the wood!

We then had a further planting on the 16th December 2012 and the whole field has really taken shape as OUR WOOD. Thank you to everyone who helped on these days - a super community feel to the days.

 A photograph showing a field with people digging with two heaps of soil in the middle foreground and with the church in the far background.
Carrying on with the work!

We had our INAUGURAL PLANTING on the 25th November 2012. The previous week had been somewhat wet and windy and the land was rather muddy in places. However a wonderful bunch of people turned up well equipped with wellies and warm clothing. We had a donation of 420 saplings from The Woodland Trust including an Oak sapling from the Sandringham Estate to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. We planted a large Hazel coppice in one corner and a circle of Birch trees just off the main ride. We started planting the hedge line to the far corner together with the beginnings to the Forest School space.

 A photograph showing a field with a row of people watching the planting of a sapling by a crouching man alongside a small child. Everyone is dressed for a cold day!
Planting the Royal Oak

The children were given the task to mulch around each sapling using chippings donated by David Brown. The crowning moment came when Luke Sargeant planted the Sandringham Oak at the top of the ride from which point there is a lovely view down to the Parish Church. Frances Jenner then arrived with hot drinks, mince pies and sausage rolls which were much appreciated. The final act of the morning was to put up John Stebbing's hand carved Walsham Wild Wood sign.

In December 2011 members of the steering committee collected a donated garden shed. It has been successfuly installed by the nursery bed at the allotments. It has made a great difference being able to keep our tools nearby.

We had the Tree Sapling Donation at the allotment nursery at the end of October 2011. Villagers were invited to donate any spare saplings and we were strict about native trees only! We offered hot drinks and delicious home made biscuits in exchange. We met some new people interested in the project and we had fun planting up the saplings with children and dogs adding to the community feel in the sunshine.

Our Background

In 2010 Walsham le Willows Primary School applied for, and was awarded, a Lottery Grant of £4,500 to create a local woodland. The school also received a grant of £500 from the Walsham Gardens Weekend for the same purpose. The school went into partnership with the Green Light Trust who have extensive support and leadership experience in this type of project. This includes raising awareness among the children, various pieces of work about trees and woods and the countryside, the building of a tree nursery in the school grounds, and the collection and planting of seeds from local sources.

In the early summer an open meeting was held for parents and villagers. This was presented by the Green Light Trust and resulted in the creation of an extensive list of villagers who were keen to offer practical assistance to the establishment of a community wood and a second list of individuals prepared to serve on a steering committee.

The children took part in a competition to design a logo for Walsham Wild Wood. Lots of colourful entries were received and you see the eventual winning entry by Daniel Moore at the top of this page.

People and Contacts

Steering Committee.

Please contact: Lorna MacKinnon (259140), or email on: mackinnonlorna@gmail.com

 A photograph showing three ladies and one man working on a rather bare piece of land.
'Our nursery holding bed.'

A photograph showng three people planting a tree in a large field.
'Planting Silver Birches.'

 A photograph showing three men building a bridge with various pieces of wood.
'Building the bridge.'

 A photograph showing a man beside a ditch which is shown 'running away' from the camera. there is a lady on the left of the ditch and she is holding a wheelbarrow whilst a man is standing on the right of the ditch facing away from the camera.
'The drainage ditch that was dug by Scott Parim, another one of our invaluable volunteers.'

As you can see, we have this page on the village website: www.walsham-le-willows.org

We contribute articles to our local magazine 'The Walsham Observer'.

Jump to top Jump to top of page