Posts Tagged ‘Guided walks’

Are you interested in the landscape history of Heartwood Forest or would you like to find out more about the arboretum that has been planted at Heartwood? If so, why not join the guided walks taking place in September?

Arb and Arch walk Sept 2017


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Are you coming along to the Heartwood Festival tomorrow?

There are activities for everyone, from yoga to woodland crafts. There will be blacksmithing and woodcraft demonstrations and the opportunity to see master craftsmen at work. Have a go at willow weaving, make a woodland picture, enjoy the guided walk around Heartwood Forest.

There is face painting available, and an assault course and bouncy castle for the children too. Alternatively they can show off their football skills in the sports area. How about going on a minibeast safari (available at set times during the day, starting from the Wildlife Zone), or would you like to meet up with some friendly farm animals that have come to visit?

You can find out about the wildlife monitoring that is constantly going on at Heartwood and see how it has developed since the first public planting in 2009.

You could join in with the 5k Fun Run (or walk!), the Bake Off, the Teddy Bear’s Picnic and the Dog Show.

Entry to the Fun Run costs £7 in advance, £10 on the day, £2 for the under 16s. Entry will be free for runners who gain sponsorship in support of Heartwood Forest. Please contact us by email at heartwood@woodlandtrust.org.uk for further details and a sponsorship form. There is even a prize for the most ludicrous costume!

You can treat yourself to champagne and strawberries, a piece of cake or a refreshing ice cream. Bring a picnic and enjoy the views, or buy something for lunch from the stall on site.

All of this is happening in the field behind Langley Wood at Heartwood Forest. There will be car parking available in the main car park and off Sandridgebury Lane (this is closer to the festival site than the Heartwood Forest car park and will be signed off the main road).

We are hoping for good weather, but whatever the weather brings, there will be plenty to do and enjoy. The fun starts at 10am and goes on until 3pm. You can find more information at  woodlandtrust.co.uk/heartwoodfestival.

We hope to see you there!

Summer festival

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It’s nearly that time again – are you coming to the Heartwood forest Summer Festival? Only just over a week to go now.

Heartwood Summer Festival Poster

Join us for the annual Heartwood Summer Festival – our outdoor celebration of trees and woodland – a day of fun for all the family.

It’s back and bigger than ever. With all the traditional woodland crafts, bodging, willow weaving, woodland art, bird box and bug hotels making and storytelling. New for this year are foraging workshops.

The farm animals will be here, with the addition of horses that you can meet and greet. The steel drums will also be making a return, as well as Morris dancing, and much more.

Enter the “Great Heartwood Bake Off”. The three adult categories are:

  • Victoria Sponge
  • Strawberry Jam
  • Savoury Quiche

Also this year there is a children’s category – 12 decorated cup cakes

All cakes must be in the judging marquee for 12 noon – judging will begin at 12.20pm.

Bring your Teddy Bear for the picnic dressed as a character from history – judging will begin at 12.15pm

Refreshments will be available to buy.

Hope to see you there!

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Four lovely Barn Owls performed beautifully for those who joined the first of this year’s evening walks led by Murray Brown at 2030 on 2nd July. The birds emerged into the fading light of dusk towards the end of the walk with one perching obligingly in a tree for several minutes. This wonderful bird has increased in Hertfordshire in recent years and it looks as though 2014 will be a bumper breeding year for the species. This is excellent news as Barn Owl numbers were severely depleted by the harsh winters of 2011-12 and 2012-13.

 Walkers also listened to the calls of a Tawny Owl, a bird that, although widely distributed in Great Britain, is not often seen due to it being highly nocturnal.

 Earlier in the evening, two Kestrels put on a fine display and a Buzzard flew low over the group. Song Thrushes were singing well after sundown and a cock Linnet also sang from the top of one of the newly planted cherry trees, allowing good views through binoculars.

 The walk started early enough for people to enjoy the wild flowers which included Hedge Woundwort and Self-heal, both of which were traditionally applied to wounds to promote healing, Field Scabious, Cornflower and Ribbed (yellow) and White Melilot. Both Hedge (white) and Lady’s (yellow) Bedstraw were also present, so-called because, fragrant when dried, the plant was used to stuff mattresses in the Middle Ages.

 So did the Barn Owls steal the show? Read on!

 As the walk commenced a Swift dashed over the party and we witnessed a few screaming Swifts above us throughout the evening.

 Swifts belong to the order Apodiformes and their scientific name Apus apus comes from the Ancient Greek meaning “without feet”. A Swift has no hind claw and all four claws point forwards meaning that it cannot perch. Although superficially similar to swallows and martins, it is thought that their nearest relatives are the New World hummingbirds (also Apodiformes!). No other birds spend so much time in the air as Swifts. They feed, drink, sleep and even mate on the wing. Before deciding that the Barn Owls were the best bit, have a thought for the young Swifts that are emerging from their nests under the eaves of our buildings this summer…if they survive, they won’t be landing until they make their own nests…and that could be in two or three years’ time!!

 Guided walks at Heartwood are sociable and relaxed and “As day turns to night” walks are a great way of getting out and enjoying the forest late in the evening while at the same time being in company and feeling safe. Book early to avoid disappointment; we were fully-booked on Wednesday!

And here’s one of those babies being ringed by experts earlier in the year:

Baby barn owl being ringed at Heartwood

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Our brand new series of wildlife walks have been extremely popular so if you were planning on discovering the wildlife of Heartwood on one of these walks book your place now.

See posters below for dates and details:

Wandering swith wildlife poster
Wanderings with wildlife poster

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“I wish I’d learned as a child to know which tree is which!”

How many times have I heard that cry from so many people while leading walks?

After the sell-out success of her book The Remarkable Trees of St Albans Kate Bretherton was inspired to write Hello Trees. These beautifully illustrated books introduce children to trees as individuals – and to the fun to be had exploring nature and the outdoors.

There are 10 pocket-sized books to collect and, with the help of a dormouse one can follow each tree through the seasons and learn to use six key identifiers; tree shape, bark, bud, leaf, flower and fruit. Every set of 10 books comes in its own presentation pack and with a free tree identification chart.
• The set focuses on trees that are common in urban as well as rural areas;
Ash, Beech, Birch, Crabapple, Hawthorn, Holly, Horsechestnut, Larch, Lime, Oak
• Each pocket-sized book contains extraordinary detailed and beautiful photographs by Donato Cinicolo, professional photographer and Hertfordshire hedge-laying champion.
• A useful teaching resource for National Curriculum science and cross-curricular work.

The books are clearly well researched and presented. Ideal for children working in pairs.

Available from Waterstones or directly from Kate Bretherton; (sales@tree-talk.co.uk or http://www.tree-talk.co.uk) at the more advantageous price of £2.99 per book with no charge for postage, or £22 + £2.80p&p for a boxed set of 10 with a free tree identification chart.

Kate's books


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Walkers met in the car park at Heartwood Forest Sunday morning in glorious weather. Following three dawn chorus walks which started at 0400, Murray Brown led the first of the morning walks, starting at the more reasonable hour of 1000!

Bird species recorded during the dawn chorus walks totalled 34 and this morning’s party were able to add to this with close-up views of House Martins feeding with Swallows over the pool in the centre of the car park. Other additions included Nuthatch, Red Kite and Buzzard.

The Red Kite and Buzzard performed fantastic aerobatics at the back of Pudler’s Wood as they soared up on the same thermal together, engaging in a little territorial bickering and allowing observers to note the differences between these raptor species which are of a similar size and can be confused. Hovering Kestrels made up a ‘raptor trio’.

Attendees were also treated to excellent views of a male Great Spotted Woodpecker visiting the nest hole to feed his very noisy brood and Green Woodpeckers were heard during the course of the morning.

The beautiful song of Skylarks poured out around and above the group all morning and the parachuting display flight of singing Meadow Pipits was also noted. Other birds that sang rather splendidly included Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and Wrens. Good views were had of a Reed Bunting and Linnets.

So what about the other wildlife? Butterflies were ‘out in force’ with Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White being joined by Small Heath and the first Common Blues of the year. Speckled Wood was noted in the mature woodland. Day-flying Cinnabar Moths were also on the wing. If you’re not familiar with these, do a Google image search. With vermilion contrasting with metallic green/black, these really are little stunners. (They’re the species with the bright yellow and black-striped caterpillars that can be found feeding on Ragwort.) With a gorgeous show of wildflowers and grasses, especially in the area below Hill End Farm, butterflies should be abundant in the daytime walks that are taking place in July and August. Murray also pointed out the squeaks of shrews in the grass in this area.

Murray will be working with the RSPB in Scotland for much of June and guided walks will resume on 2nd July for an evening walk at 2030: “As day turns to night…” For more information about this and the rest of the summer’s programme of walks at Heartwood Forest, visit:


Wildlife walks at Heartwood

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