All this week (December 11the to 17th 2017) my local park, Warley Woods, has been offering free guided walks as part of the National Lottery #ThanksToYou initiative. Warley Woods and Golf Course is run by a Community Trust and has benefitted from Heritage Lottery funding.
To continue to be able to finance he upkeep, The Trust raises funds from membership donations, green fees from the golfers and also by organising a number of excellent events all year round, including Picnic in the Park, All About Dogs and Open Air Theatre.
The weather has unfortunately caused much disruption to the planned walks. The West Midlands had heavy snow, -10 degrees overnight, rain, more snow and so the paths are still icy. Some walks were understandably cancelled because of this. Today, as the sun was shining, we had a beautiful red sunrise (yes, that warning about red sky in the morning needs to be heeded) so I decided to drag my husband away from the warmth of the log burner for a walk in the woods.
And so it was we were the only two who turned up for the walk, led by Trustee and volunteer Chris Ashford and his daughters, who also volunteer for Warley Woods.
Simon Lea, a local photographer captured the sunrise over my other local park (lucky me, two parks) this morning. Head here to see this photo, and if you like it, pop to The Pavilion shop and buy his calendar capturing Warley Woods at its best throughout the year. These are what we took today (won’t be on any calendar any day soon).
The sun, long gone and replaced with icy rain, we wrapped up warm. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as the wrong sort of weather, just the wrong sort of clothes. I was wearing the wrong sort of shoes though, which was really rather silly of me. They are rather muddy now.
Chris gave us a potted history of the woods, pointing out things like the new benches that are beginning to replace the older wooden ones, due to age, wear and tear and vandalism. While the original benches were lottery funded, the new ones are paid for via the fundraising of the trust.
There is also a sculpture trail, an outdoor gym, all blending in the landscape, originally designed by Humphry Repton.
As a regular visitor to Warley Woods, I was surprised to find a new place to visit, The Wilderness. Today it was too icy and muddy to fully explore but I look forward to seeing it again when the ice has gone and I am wearing boots. It has a wetland boardwalk and home to plant species not found anywhere else in the West Midlands. Which is really rather amazing considering that in 2004 it was a location of an illegal dump.
I have been visiting Warley Woods since I was a child. This week it was full of families sledging, building snowmen and woman and snow dogs, as well as some skiers. Today, despite the wind and rain, there were many walkers, dogs being exercised and even joggers braving the weather.
What makes this place special is that there is something for every one. An excellent golf course, a newly refurbished playground, wonderful wildlife, a running club and both gentle and challenging walks.
It has had a chequered history, once home to the Galton family, has been managed/mismanaged by local authorities which led to the loss of The Abbey and The Ice House. Since being taken over by The Trust it truly is now a People’s Park. This was the intention of Alexander Macombe Chance owner of Chance’s glassworks. His investment saved it from being developed for housing in the early 1900’s.
If you are local to Bearwood, and have never visited, why not? But put on your sensible shoes first. Take a camera. Then pop to the cafe for a cuppa and some cake. And put a donation in the box, so we can keep this park for the future generations.