DCS Local Event : A Spring Walk in Hardwick Wood

Saturday 27th April 2019 Return to Alumni Events

Hardwick Wood is an ancient wood with an entry in the Domesday Book and is now owned by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. It has an S.S.S.I designation. The wood was studied extensively by Oliver Rackham who discovered that it was owned by Ely Cathedral for part of it's history so has records of coppicing written in the Ely Coucher Book. He also found that part of the wood was clear-felled for agriculture at one time but the boulder clay on which it is located was difficult for primitive ploughs so was allowed to regenerate. The biggest change arrived in the middle of the nineteenth century, after the Napoleonic Wars, when the government decided would need more oaks for shipbuilding in the future and planted many oaks in Hardwick Wood for future use, despite boulder clay not being the ideal soil for oaks. However when that future arrived, ships were made from metal so the wood remained intact and today it has regions of oak and ash as well as field maple, coppiced hazel and wych elm together with spring flowering bluebells, oxlip, primrose, wild garlic and early purple orchid.

Terry Intro

Terry introduces the wood ...

and the botany

... then the botany



It was to this small, elongated wood that DCS members arrived for the traditional spring walk on a day which had been forecasted to have much wind, which arrived later in the walk, and rain but remained dry. As a result of the mixed history of different parts of the wood it has very different and distinct aspects of wildlife in different areas despite it's small size. The adjacent ancient bridleway added cowslip and more primrose to complete the pot-pourri.

Tree 1st

Looking at a recently fallen tree partly blocking the path ...

and the botany

... It was big!!

Early Purple Orchid

The flowering spike of an early purple orchid

Finally, as tradition dictates, we moved to and nearby hostelry, the Blue Lion, where the food was excellent.

Pictures by Helen Moore (Click on the pictures for larger versions)

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