David Attenborough has just told me and the rest of you on his latest TV documentary that the UK has the worst woodland density of any European country. That does not surprise me given our government’s rough shod treatment of our environment. They don’t even approve of Attenborough’s climate predictions. Who would you trust our natural treasures to – David or Sunak, Hunt, Coffey et al. We are woefully short of natural diversity and though it is small scale The Woodland Trust charity have something to offer on a local level and potentially a wider scale the more people know of them and their work. But how much more we need to do to re-establish our natural woodlands after years of local destruction for housing, transport, agriculture and sterile forestry plantations.
This was to be an afternoon of exploration which will be of little interest to most of you. Fulwood lies to the north of Preston hard by the M6. A land of suburbia, upmarket houses and expensive cars. And it is spreading fast to link up with Broughton and Cottam. New estates appear by the month and roads struggle to cope with the traffic. Alongside the motorway industrial units and office blocks use up most of the remaining land. So what is a ‘mountain man’ like me doing here? Well for a start mountains are off the agenda until hopefully the knee has improved. Secondly I noticed on a walk on the Preston Guild Wheel last week lots of tempting linear woodland walks. Most of them signed and presumably maintained by The Woodland Trust charity. A fellow blogger Clare highlighted some woods in the area a year ago, and I have to thank her for that. It lit a spark in me, and I am off to discover what has been hidden under my feet or wheels all those years.
A bit of research on The Woodlands Trust website showed an interactive map of all their woodlands. I focused in on the Fulwood ones.
Armed with a sketch map I left Fulwood Row onto the Guild Wheel through Hindley Hill Woods. ( Fernyhalgh Woods according to the Woodland Trust Map, but let’s not quibble. On the east side of the Motorway alonside Savick Brook they are named Squire Anderton’s Woods. I traversed these on my Haighton walk last week) This is all familiar territory but once I crossed Longsands Lane I diverged from the GW north into Midgery Woods, crossing Savick Brook, and going uphill towards the constant drum of the motorway. The path goes alongside the motorway for 300 metres with expensive looking houses to its other side, they must be glad of the belt of trees to give them some insulation from the noise. One could carry on along here all the way to Moss Leach Woods, but I’d had enough of the noise so took a pleasanter path through trees over the roundabout and re-emerged back onto the GW at Midgery Lane. I followed the Wheel northwards until I came to the entrance to Moss Leach Woods on the right. I had a quick foray in the woods towards the motorway out of interest before continuing.
On the map is marked Cromwell’s Mound in a field just off the Guild Wheel – I had never noticed it before. A public footpath crosses the field here just south of the mound which to my surprise was clearly visible, although I need a better photo. ‘Cromwell’s Mound fieldwork remains in good condition and is a rare example of a monument associated with the Second Civil War of 1648.’ For the full history behind this mound have a read here. The developers have encroached upon this historic site with the planning departments colluding.
I should have just carried on across the field but instead retraced my steps and followed a narrower path continuing in the Moss Leach woods by the stream. This was very muddy and came out at the same place as the Public Footpath – lesson learnt. I was now on the busy Eastway, again I could have gone straight across, but I wanted to look at the strip of woods heading south from the road just past the roundabout. Walking alongside this road is not pleasant. Thankfully the strip of woodland was signed, and I enjoyed a good stretch. I probably passed over the moat of the demolished Broughton Tower along there somewhere, another one to come back to. The path narrowed alongside houses, and then the way continued onto Tower Lane, showing cobbles in places near Tower Farm. This made up lane. now between upmarket properties, came to a T-junction. With the lack of knowledge of any other ways I turned left and soon reached Eastway again. I walked down the grass verge, there being no footway, until I reached the entrance to Mason’s Wood. Looking at the map I could have reached this point more easily from the Guild Wheel, cutting out the loop to Cromwell’s Mound. but that wasn’t the point today.
Mason’s Wood was a gem. a deep wooded valley with the path winding along it. Little bridges lead to paths rising to the housing on the west bank, whilst hidden on the left was Preston Golf Club. This could become a favourite of mine. The wild garlic was just leafing up.
At the end a footbridge took me across Savick Brook and onto the edge of the smart looking golf course, complete with its usual warnings and arrows. But all went well until a muddy exit back onto Eastway which I then followed until Fulwood Hall Lane on the right. To escape from the busy road I ducked down here and found a path following Savick Brook upstream. I still had to cross and recross the busy roads again at the roundabout to continue upstream. That bit needs sorting out.
The light was fading, I hadn’t set off until 3pm due to faffing, so I increased my pace along the good path. This linear wood is called Sandybrook, another Woodland Trust site, and is three quarters of a mile long. (Header Photo of Sandybrook) All these hidden woods. It was only in this section, bordering onto the Brookfield estate that I encountered any serious litter. Most of the woods had been clear of rubbish and thankfully poo bags.
Entrance to Sandybrook.
At the end I emerged back onto Fulwood Row, the end of my walk, just as the rain started. Here were present day reminders of the natural habitats we must have lost whilst this area was being and still is being developed, but credit to The Woodland Trust for preserving some of these linear wild life spaces.
This is a fairly mundane write-up, out of necessity, to find, explore and possibly link up the various woods. There is so much green space hiding away from the busy roads in the area, Strangely I feel I have had a good ‘country’ walk today. What must it be like when the bluebells are out and the trees showing much more greenery? Already I can see how to tweak the route to avoid the dreaded Eastway, yet still experiencing the best bits. Today I walked about six miles, but I think an excellent route of about four miles avoiding roads would be possible. The green lungs of Fulwood. My convoluted route is shown on the map below, but I’m sure there will be more to come of these woodland walks in the heart of the city. (Is Fulwood in the city?)
The Woodland Trust site shows two more woods I didn’t or couldn’t incorporate into today’s walk. Asda Wood and Clough Copse. I will make a separate trip to these, and maybe incorporate a bit of shopping at Asda at the same time. Additionally, their website has some very good information on tree identification and other matters natural. Worth a visit and a donation at https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/