Loughton trees in winter walk

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Epping Forest Countrycare, in conjunction with the Friends of Epping Forest, organised a walk along the ridge on the North West side of Loughton through the conservation areas known as “Little Cornwall” on 7 February 2012. A total of 21 people braved the cold and snowy conditions and were rewarded with a crisp sunny day and clear blue skies. The walk was led by local naturalist Tricia Moxey and Kevin Mason from Countrycare.

The walk started from Baldwins Hill Green where the opportunity was taken to look at the two large oak pollards at the top of the hill. Tricia explained the significance of the trees to the local landscape, and Kevin explained about the favourite trees database and how trees within the district are recorded.

The walk then went south along Baldwins Hill to Ash Green the former residence of William Chapman Waller, writer in 1900, of Loughton in Essex. The book is a definitive history of Loughton from earliest times. Explanation was given of Wallers Hoppit part of the garden of Ash Green which was sold for development in the 1970s. A hoppit meaning an enclosure or paddock.

From Baldwins Hill the walk went into York Hill bounded by high holly hedges until we reached the green in front of the Gardener’s Arms. The opportunity was taken to admire the view and learn about the history of the buildings and the conservation aspect of the area.

Turning to the right the walk then went along Woodberry Hill passing the site of the old Loughton Pottery and some fine trees, especially a large Black Cedar in the garden of number three.  At the end of Woodberry Hill the road ends at Loughton Lodge which is opposite Drummaids a local scenic spot with fine views looking down on the trees. We then retraced our steps taking a route into the forest passing Dryads Hall, formerly the home of the Silberrad family.

Once past the hall the path went downhill, we looked for signs of an old path which linked up with the Clay ride through the forest without having to go down hill. It is shown on maps from the 1950’s but has long since become overgrown and disappeared.

In the forest Tricia gave an explanation of the management of the Hornbeam and Beech pollards in the area explaining that they have become very top heavy and will in time topple over. We climbed back up the hill to finish the walk in bright sunshine at the top of the Clay ride. Although much of the recent snow had thawed, there was a little lingering in places and this added an extra dimension to the silhouettes of the trees encountered on the route and we all benefitted from our exposure to the sun and the calming influence of the trees!

One of the walkers commented at the end. Thank you so much, It was a particularly nice walk, and it just goes to show that a walk doesn’t have to lengthy or hard-paced to be very rewarding!

Allotment cleared to create wildlife habitat

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Countrycare, Loughton, Our countryside, Your area

On a very cold Saturday morning, 11 February 2012, the overgrown former allotment site in Willingale Road Loughton, was given some well needed attention. Some of the bramble was cleared to create a habitat for wildlife, promote wildflowers and release the trees from entanglement.

The work was led by the Epping Forest District Council’s Countryside Manager Abigail Oldham and Assistant Kevin Mason, along with members of Loughton Town Council, Paul Hoy and Councillor Stephen Pewsey, a number of local volunteers and recruits from the Harlow community payback group.

Three areas of bramble were worked on creating a more open aspect to the site. A large cooking apple tree was freed from bramble and is now a feature in the centre of the site. Several other trees which were being smothered were haloed.

The bramble was cut using hand tools and mechanical means then burnt on a small fire which was very welcome on a particularly cold day.

The volunteers and staff were pleased to be joined at lunchtime by Chairman of the Council Ken Angold-Stephens who gave encouragement to those involved in the clearance work said: “There is much more to be done on the site but a lot of clearance was completed on the day and we definitely made a difference”.


Help wanted to plant disease resistant elm tree

Written on . Posted in Conservation and listed buildings, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your community

Published on 9 January 2012

We are looking for volunteers to join us in planting a 10ft disease resistant elm tree at the newly opened Bobbingworth Nature Reserve in Moreton.

 The Countrycare Team from Epping Forest District Council with members of the volunteer group will be planting the elm tree on the viewing point at the nature reserve on Tuesday 24 January 2012. They will also be making compost bins and cutting and raking in between some of the trees.

If you wish to join them please call 01992 788203 for details and to book a place. Meeting at 10am at the car park on Moreton Bridge Road, you will need to bring sturdy shoes and a packed lunch. Tea and biscuits will be provided.

Volunteering with us is a great way to learn more about trees. You will get practical hands on experience and improve your health and wellbeing as well as meeting new people and having fun!

Bobbingworth nature reserve officially opened

Learn about conservation with Countrycare

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Our countryside, Residents, Your community

Celebrating 25years CountrycareWould you like to experience the wonderful countryside of the Epping Forest district while learning conservation and countryside management skills?

If the answer is yes come along to ‘Try your hand day’ and ‘Unto the fields’ – 2 events celebrating 25 years of Epping Forest Countrycare.

Try your hand day – 17 September 2011, Chigwell

‘Try your hand day’ is about conservation volunteering. Join Countrycare for a morning of practical conservation work at Chigwell Row Wood Local Nature Reserve on Saturday 17 September. Learn countryside management techniques and see how this benefits the wildlife of this ancient woodland. The event is from 10am to 1pm and is open to everyone over 16 years old.

Unto the fields Autumn Fayre – 1 October 2011, Loughton

‘Unto the fields’ is an Autumn Fayre on Saturday 1 October at the Roding Valley Meadows Local Nature Reserve in Loughton. This informative and fun day out includes tours of the site, bug hunting and conservation activities such as hedgelaying demonstrations. There will also be tractor rides, archery, dog agility, ferret roulette, a welly throwing competition and the big draw! Admission is free but some activities may have a small charge.

The event runs from 11am to 4pm and is run in association with the Essex Wildlife Trust and with the CBBCs D.S.I. – Deadly Scene Investigation.

Entertainment will be provided by the Forest Fiddlers with refreshments by Naked Sausage. The Countrycare Team hopes to raise awareness of conservation issues and involve local communities in its work.

For more information and to book a place on ‘Try your hand day’, contact Countrycare by telephone on 01992 788203 or by email to contactcountrycare@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

Walks ‘n’ talks to celebrate Countrycare Anniversary

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Our countryside, Out and about

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Council’s Countryside Service, Countrycare have organised various events throughout the year.

On Monday 18 July 2011 Countrycare organised an event that was hosted by the Epping Forest Council tree wardens and the City of London Corporation tree wardens in Epping Forest.

The day started at Warren House in the City of London Grounds on Epping New Road, with introductions from Kevin Mason tree warden officer for the council and Martin Whitfield volunteer manager for the City of London.

The tree wardens were then given a very interesting lecture on the history of pollarding in Epping Forest by Dr. Jeremy Dagley, Senior Ecologist for the City of London Corporation. Time was allowed for a question and answer session which Dr. Dagley answered in a most informative manner.

The tree wardens were then taken by minibus and land rover to High Beech to look at the work being carried out to restore some of the old oak and beech pollards in the forest. An explanation of the work being carried out was given by forest ecologist Andy Froud
Whilst there, the opportunity was taken to look at a large very old beech tree which was estimated as being at least 400 years old.

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On Saturday 16 July 2011 Countrycare, organised guided walk from Epping Upland through to Nazeingwood Common, re-created one of the first country walks mapped by Countrycare and the first footpaths worked on, back in 1986.

The walk was led by Countryside Manager Abigail Oldham, who pointed out the natural history and wildlife aspects along the route, and Kevin Mason, who provided historical information.

The walk started along Epping Long Green West under threatening skies. This ancient drovers’ route along the ridge of Nazeingwood Common led to Copywood Field, a Local Wildlife Site managed by Countrycare. The site has recently had its annual grass cut to encourage wildflowers. The grassland has only survived because of its small size and contains many grassy hummocks created by Yellow Meadow ants.

Alongside Copywood field is Copy Wood, another Local Wildlife Site, notable for a large pear tree some mature elm trees, hornbeam and field maple coppice and a very large veteran Oak pollard which the walkers stopped and admired.

Leaving the wood behind, the route went down the fairly steep hill to Common Road, up Back Lane and across the fields in front of Nazeing Park. A stop was made here to explain the history of Nazeing Park. It was built in 1796 by William Palmer and he used his powers as a magistrate to divert the road so that traffic now uses Common road as the house was once located on the main road. Once through Nazeing Park we stopped to look at the old post office building and the historic buildings in Upper Nazeing.

At this point we arrived at Nazeing Triangle one of the Epping Forest District’s Local Nature Reserves. Managed by the Countrycare team, this year it has a large amount of water in the recently excavated pond. The plan was to have refreshments and a wildflower identification session but the heavens opened so the walkers moved on quickly.

Turning east across the fields we reached The Sun public house, we then crossed Common Road taking the recently mown bridle path from Harknett’s Gate onto Nazeingwood Common itself.

We crossed the common, passed Lodge Farm and up the hill to the journey’s end at the Travellers Friend, which was a welcome sight for the very wet walkers. The route was a total distance of about 4 miles which took 2 ½ hours to complete.

Bobbingworth nature reserve officially opened

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Your area

Bobbingworth Nature Reserve was officially opened by Chairman of Council Council Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens and Portfolio Holder for Environment Councillor John Knapman. The former gravel extraction and then landfill site has been totally transformed and is now an open space for everyone to enjoy.


Chairman of Council Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens said: “Many species of wildlife have already taken up residence here and the whole site looks fantastic. I was particularly impressed by the lengths gone to, to develop wildlife habitat for slow worms, beetles and reptiles, and the landscaping of the site including incorporating so many native tree and shrub species including a oak, ash and hornbeam, an emblematic species of our District. It will also be interesting to see if the disease resistant variety of elm survives in the long term too as we lost so many to disease some years ago I would urge everyone to come and see what has been achieved through the dedication and commitment of so many people.”

Portfolio Holder for Environment Councillor John Knapman said: “I am delighted that this site is now fully restored and open to the public. The site is hardly recognisable as the one where work started on this project back in 2007. It really is a wonderful resource for local people as well as those from further afield.”

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Donald MacPhail, Regional Director of Veolia Environmental Services, the Council’s contractor for the restoration work said: “This is a key example of how a landfill can be transformed into a site of natural beauty. As a company we pride ourselves in encouraging biodiversity in unusual locations and this is another example of our work in practice”.

The Council’s contractor Veolia will be managing and maintaining the site for the next seven years. During this time, as well as ensuring the design is working, they will be working closely with officers from the engineering , drainage and water team and the Council’s Countrycare Service in trying to create a biodiversity resource with wetlands, a wildflower meadow, copses and hedgerows.

Over 5,000 native trees have been planted as part of the restoration scheme in order to offset the carbon footprint of the project; each tree is expected to absorb over 1 tonne of carbon dioxide over a 100-year lifetime.

Loughton’s remarkable trees walk

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Our countryside, Trees and landscapes

21 local residents enjoyed a guided walk around the conservation areas of Baldwins Hill and York Hill in Loughton looking at the extensive collection of veteran trees in the area. They were led by local naturalist Tricia Moxey and Epping Forest District Councils Countrycare assistant Kevin Mason.

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The walk, on Sunday 10 July 2011, added several new veteran trees to the councils database of veteran trees and demonstrated the significance of the veteran trees in Loughton as part of the Loughton tree strategy. Tricia explained the significance of old hedgerows in the area using a dating method known as Hooper’s Rule. Hooper’s Rule suggests the number of mature species in a 30 metre stretch multiplied by 100 can give an approximate age for a hedge. The York Hill hedge had 6 species and therefore is aged at approximately 600 years old.

The walk also covered the area known as Little Cornwall, an area named by local author Ruth Rendell in her 1974 novel ‘The Face of Trespass’. Kevin explained the history of the area and local points of interest. A short stop was made on the green opposite the Gardener’s Arms to admire the view across East London to Canary Wharf and the hills of Kent in the distance.

The walkers continued to Woodberry Hollow, also known as Drummaids, to look at the view of the forest. From there the spire at the top of High Beech church was just visible. Pausing at two Horse chestnut trees, Tricia explained that the Horse chestnut leaf minor micro moth was damaging the tree leaves. Kevin gave details to the group of what can be done to help and of the conker tree science project.

The walk lasted over two hours with 25 different tree species seen. It was appreciated by all who came along on what turned out to be a beautiful, warm and sunny warm morning.

Don’t miss out on the next guided walk by Countrycare around Epping Upland and Nazeing on Saturday 16 July walking the footpaths originally worked on by Countrycare in 1986. Details can be found on the online events calendar.

Mad About Moths

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Residents, Your area, Your community

Brimstone Moth

‘Mad About Moths’ is the first in a series of events Countrycare will be hosting this year to celebrate its 25th anniversary. 

The event which will take place on Friday 6 May 2011 will involve an evening of trapping, identifying and recording moths with some of our local experts.

To be held at Linder`s Field Local Nature Reserve, Roebuck Lane, Buckhurst Hill, IG9 5QX, the evening will run from 8:30pm until late.

Refreshments will be provided but please bring suitable clothing and a torch is also recommended.

To book your place please contact Countrycare by telephone on 07789372222.

Please note: the event will be cancelled in the event of heavy rain or strong wind.

Countrycare Exceeds Local Wildlife Site Targets

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Our countryside, Residents, Your community

38% of Local Wildlife Sites in the Epping Forest district are now in ‘Positive Conservation Management’, exceeding a target set by Defra two years ago.

In order to improve the care of Local Wildlife Sites and raise biodiversity Defra established the National Indicator, NI197, with the purpose of achieving 34% of sites into ‘Positive Conservation Management’ by March 2011.

Volunteers tree planting at Blackcat Green Lane in Fyfield

As of January 2010 Epping Forest was surveyed as having 222 Local Wildlife Sites and 84 of these are now in ‘Positive Conservation Managment’. This compares to 546 of the 1600 Local Wildlife Sites across the Essex Partnership which has also achieved the Defra target.

Achieving the target involved surveying each site, writing a Management Prescription and organising working parties to carry out practical tasks. In addition to grants from the Essex Wildlife Trust and Essex County Council, help was also provided in the form of manpower by Countrycare`s volunteer group, the West Essex Ramblers and the occasional corporate team day.

Countrycare Completes Hedgerow Survey

Written on . Posted in Consultation, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Residents, Your council

After 9 months of hard work from staff and volunteers, the council`s Countrycare team has finished its hedgerow survey of Moreton, Fyfield and the Lavers. The data will be used to help raise awareness of the importance of hedgerows as a source of biodiversity.

In 2010 DEFRA launched a nationwide survey through which the Countrycare team obtained a grant to survey the parishes that lie within the arable, agricultural landscapes of West Essex. The density of the hedges in these areas has decreased in recent decades due to agricultural practices and urban development pressures.

Conducting the hedgerow survey will help in determining the distribution and condition of the hedges and identifying the presence of species rich hedgerows, isolated trees and any veteran trees.

The results showed that three in ten of the hedgerows surveyed fulfilled all the criteria listed by DEFRA for a hedgerow to be considered in favourable condition. Seven in ten hedgerows fulfilled ten out of the eleven criteria, with most hedgerows failing because they were found to be nutrient enriched.

In addition to raising awareness with local landowners, farmers and community groups of the importance of hedgerows as a source of biodiversity, the data will also be used as evidence for the Local Development Framework, which is looking to include green infrastructure. The surveys also contribute to achieving the aims of the Epping Forest Local Biodiversity Action Plan and the Essex Biodiversity Action Plan.

A full report on the hedgerow survey conducted and more information on biodiversity can be found on the Countrycare area of the Epping Forest District Council website.