The project’s primary aim is to encourage people to visit their local woods, while providing a free opportunity to learn more about the ecological and social value of woodland. The Sheffield Woodland Connections walks deliver in depth knowledge about ancient woodlands, one of Britain’s more diverse and complex habitats, in a fun and engaging way.
Ecclesall Woods was chosen because, as the largest semi-natural ancient woodland in South Yorkshire, it makes an ideal outdoor classroom taking in a variety of different habitats. As a semi-natural woodland it is possible to see the how the introduction of non-native trees has altered the ecological balance.
Between Spring 2017 – when the project launched – and Spring 2018 Sheffield Woodland Connections was a collective of five alumni from the University of Sheffield’s Landscape Dept – that’s us in the photo below.
Due to ongoing studies, new careers and a move all the way back to Canada for Christine, Sheffield Woodland Connections is now run solely by Fran Halsall.
Woodland walks overview
In spring and early summer the focus is on the relationship between trees and groundflora. This includes looking at efforts of volunteers to regenerate areas of lapsed hazel coppice through selective tree felling and bramble clearance.
In autumn, just as the leaves are beginning to fall time is spent analysing different tree barks and growth habits, as this knowledge means that a tree can be identified in any season.
Resources have been created to accompany the project, including a detailed map; plus a timeline of the woodland’s history; a brief guide to recognising notable and veteran trees; and a tree survey sheet – all of which are available here.
In the first phase of the walks we sought contributions from those who joined us including: photographs, drawings, tree surveys, a poem and a video. These have been included as ‘Points to Interest‘ on the website map, to enhance the experience of visiting Ecclesall Woods.
Fourteen guided walks, attended by approximately 250 people, have taken place in Ecclesall Woods between spring 2017 and autumn 2019. Nearly 340 signatures of support for the Woodland Trust’s Tree Charter have been collected.
The feedback from the walks has been really encouraging, here are some of the comments:
“My family and I had a great walk with you through Ecclesall Woods the other Sunday, those running it made it very interesting, never too late in life to learn more! Excellent.” – David Morley.
“My partner and I went along to the Sheffield woodland walk and found it very enjoyable and informative. Fran and her colleague were very knowledgeable and are clearly very passionate about the subject so were able to communicate a lot of information in a clear and fun way. It was really nice to revisit the area in a new light. We loved it, learned a lot and would highly recommend.” – Rachel Read
“A huge thank you to Fran and her colleagues for the most informative and interesting guided tree tour at Ecclesall Woods on Sunday 20 May. I was captivated by the historical and tree management aspects of the information they shared. I walk in the woods fairly regularly; from now on I will get so much more out of my visits.” – Charmaine Myers
“Spent a most enjoyable walk last Sunday, led by Fran Halsall around Ecclesall Woods where we practiced tree identification and learnt something about tree management techniques whilst observing how other wildlife interacts here. The colour handouts were also informative and helpful and I look forward to further understanding and improving my methods of tree identification.” – Richard Kedward
If you would like to register your interest for an upcoming free-to-attend walk then please use the contact form.