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Page created 10 May 2013

A wild walk in Buff Wood
8 May 2013

by John O'Sullivan

On a fine evening in early May, fourteen of us met at Hatley Village Hall to walk around Buff Wood with Mark Ricketts.  Mark works for our local County Wildlife Trust, overseeing the management of their reserves in Cambridgeshire and working in close cooperation with landowners, in this case the Hatley Estate.

We had a relaxed and fascinating time among the bluebells, wood anemones, archangels and other common plants, as well as learning to recognise scarcer species such as herb paris and Goldilocks buttercup – and puzzling over primulas, particularly the oxlip, for which this wood is famous.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the evening was learning about past management, and in particular the work that the Trust is doing now.

They are creating a mosaic of habitats within the wood, based on centuries-old techniques that preserve large 'standard' trees, like oak, alongside 'coppice' of young, regularly-cut species, such as hazel.  Shade-loving and sun-loving plants can thus both be encouraged, together with the wide range of animals that depend on them.

There are some formidable challenges – fallow and muntjac deer, for instance, both heavy browsers, must be excluded from some areas by the use of fences. Nor must the wood be kept too 'tidy', as many species are dependent on standing and fallen dead wood.

Management has served Buff Wood well for centuries, and continuing change to a wood we love is all part of ensuring that it will still be here to delight our successors for hundreds of years to come.

Warm thanks to Mark for taking the time to share his knowledge and experience with us.

Thanks also to Philippa Pearson for organisation and the photographs: a goodly sum was raised for Hatley St George church.




Buff Wood, Cambridgeshire - 8 May 2013.

▲  Buff Wood walk, 8 May 2013 – Mark Ricketts of our local County Wildlife Trust explaining the layout of the wood, which covers around 40 acres.  Those standing in front of the sign are on land (near Hatley St George) still owned by Cambridge Botanic Gardens; the rest is owned by the Hatley Estate, which the Trust manage.

Buff Wood, Cambridgeshire - 8 May 2013.

▲  Mark Ricketts explaining the importance of keeping parts of the wood open to encourage grasses and associated plants to grow freely.

Buff Wood, Cambridgeshire - 8 May 2013.

▲  Plenty of English bluebells in 2013...

Buff Wood, Cambridgeshire - 25 April 2004.

▲  As there were on 25 April 2004.  Do you recognise anyone?

Buff Wood, Cambridgeshire - 25 April 2004.

▲  Another shot taken on 25 April 2004.

More information

The book Hayley Wood : its history and ecology by Oliver Rackham , was published in 1975 by the Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely Naturalists' Trust, ISBN 0-902708-04-X, 236pp (and revised in 1990 by the Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust).  It is available at local libraries.

The website of the local Wildlife Trust has more on Hayley Wood , and the many other reserves of this energetic organisation www.wildlifebcnp.org. If you are not sure about it already, enquire of the Trust about access arrangements for both woods – phone 01954 710051).

Copyright 2004-2016 - This website is run by the Hatley Website Group on behalf of Hatley Parish Council with funding assistance from South Cambridgeshire District Council