Autumn Open Day – Sunday 7th October 2018

Open Day – Sunday 7th October 2018

Our early Autumn Open Day once again continued to attract many people, our list of attendees showed that around 200 people visited on the space of 3 hours, some before we officially opened at 2pm!  Those of you who remember how cold the mid-Spring Open Day was were no doubt relieved that the previous day’s heavy rain didn’t continue, and a warm and dry day allowed for many visitors who hadn’t been to the woodland before to fully explore the place.


People in The Glade

View from the Glade

Children’s Craft Table







For the first time this year we had children’s story telling, with committee member Rich Sylvester held a captive audience of children and adults underneath the canopy for 30 minutes.  In addition, Richard also helped out with the children in recording on small pieces of paper typical woodland items that were found and kept as a souvenir of the day.

Richard Doing Storytelling

Children’s Activities

Autumn Woodland Collection







One of our existing activities involved pond-dipping and with Nigel Duncan showing with the mircoscopes what fauna is in our pond.  The contents of the pond water were transferred to dishes and microscopes enabled children and adults to examine what they had found.

Nigel and his Pond Water Analysis

Nigel and Pond Analysis

Pond Dipping







Continuing the success of our first, and modest, harvest of honey from our 3 bee-hives, Jeremy and Andrew (our two apiarists) were available to show curious people the hives and to inform people of the bees’ lives.

Also continuing our very well established tradition of our refreshment stall, this time it was manned by committee members Chris Bates and Ruth Cracknell, where home-made cakes were sold.  By the end of the day over £60 was collected, a very generous amount which helps to buy woodland equipment and plants.

Chris and the Refreshment Stall

Refreshments for Sale

Homemade Apple Pie







Finally, for the first time, the committee have produced special Westcombe Woodlands Christmas cards.  Around 150 were sold and will be available at the future Annual General meeting, as well as the next 2 volunteer days.  Featuring a wonderful crisp, snowy morning in the woodland from a photograph taken earlier this year, these really are an excellent way to contribute, with all profits going towards woodland’s funds.





First Harvest of Honey!

As many of you know, the woodland is home to 3 bee hives, and over the last 2 years of careful guidance from committee member Andrew Slade, at a recent meeting he brought along a small jar of honey which has been harvested from the hives.  Nearly all of the honey produced has been left for the bees to keep them going for the rest of the year.

Jar of our honey

Volunteer Day – Saturday 1st September 2018

Saturday morning’s volunteer session was very well attended, allowing lots of jobs to be tackled in anticipation of next month’s Autumn Open Day. As can be seen, it was a wonderful, sunny morning in the woodland.

The pond’s water level after the recent rain has risen, but committee member Miriam Hier can be seen clearing some of the vegetation that’s starting to cover the surface area. There’ll always be bramble and weed clearing, and volunteer Paula was playing an active role with the aid of the thick, leather gauntlets to pull up the weeds without getting hurt.

Miriam Hier clearing the pond

Paula bramble clearing

Paula clearing brambles







Chairman Tim Barnes can be seen in the new woodland clearing attacking tree stumps and clearing out Robinia saplings.  It’s been decided that a small area near The Mound will make a good place for a new nursery bed, which will allow us to grow our own plants, therefore saving money, but also establishing another area of interest for the woodland. Donald Albrecht, Rich Richard Sylvester and Andrew Slade can be seen measuring up the suitable new plot.

Tim Barnes clearing Robinia saplings

Tim Barnes clearing Robinia saplings







Finally, also near The Glade we planted several weeks ago some new tree saplings. With the long hot Summer, we’ve had to keep a lookout to make sure they have been properly cared for. The below photo shows a Bird Cherry looking very healthy.


Volunteer Day – Sunday 5th August 2018

This morning’s volunteer session, not too surprising with Summer holidays in full swing, was very quiet on numbers, although we did welcome 2 new people who live in Seren Park Gardens for the first time.

The Glade’s grass was due for its annual cut. Andrew Slade and Kate Campbell did an excellent job in cutting the grass and removing weeds. The grass cuttings will form part of our newly proposed composting facility.

Andrew Slade with Scythe

Scythed Glade

Cut Grass







Unfortunately the pear and apple trees have lost nearly all fruit. Looking at what’s remaining on the trees, it looks like the local birds have been eating the crop.

Bird-eaten apples

One of the few remaining apples not eaten by birds!

Committee member Kate Campbell (Shade)







Recently planted trees by a local school on The Mound area were given a good watering. The long and hot dry period has also taken its toll on our pond, which we topped up with the remaining water from the water barrel at the entrance. Plans are in place for another water barrel near the bee hives.

School Planted Maple

Planted Oak Sapling

View of the pond – water required







Butterfly on a bramble leaf

Brambles in fruit







Usual projects of weeding were undertaken, including removal of ivy next to the path that leads to The Glade.  This year’s blackberries are in fruit (and taste delicious) but perhaps because of the very dry weather, they’re quite small.  Also in The Glade area, lots of the above butterflies were seen, does anyone know their name?

Volunteer Day – Saturday 7th July 2018

Last Saturday’s volunteer session was a thin on volunteer numbers at the start of the morning (World Cup Football with England winning, as well as Wimbledon), but more people arrived at the morning went on.

The last 2 or 3 weeks has seen really warm, sunny days, with the grass in The Glade area now in full seed. In the August volunteer session, it’s expected that the scythe will be used. There’s a nice photo of volunteer Frank Smith with his socks covered in seeds after weeding in The Glade area!

Seeds and Socks!

Glade View







As always at this time of the year, the bindweed and brambles are quickly growing, with 2 volunteers weeding The Mound, as well as the wild flower area in The Glade.

For the first time we also topped up our pond with water from the rain butt next to the shed. The water level didn’t look low, but surrounding vegetation is encroaching and will have to be dealt with next month. Additional watering of the tree saplings was also done.

The Spring flowers – red campion, bluebells and foxgloves have now seeded, which will hopefully allow for “free” plants in the local areas. Several clumps of red campion were also divided and planted along the footpath going towards The Glade, and in new “Mini Glade” at the top of The Mound.

Flower Bed

Bluebell Seeds

Fox Glove







Of course, no volunteer session is complete without a coffee break, the temperatures in the shade was almost 30 degrees, in the sun the chocolate biscuits melted!

27 degrees in the shade

Coffee Break

Coffee Break







There’s also a small video showing the entrance of the 3 hives, there was plenty of bee activity taking place.  Finally, there was a butterfly in the area while we were having our coffee break, which appears to be a “Comma” butterfly; can anyone vouch for this?

Bee Video

Butterfly, perhaps a “Comma”.

Open Day – Sunday 29th April 2018

Open Day – Sunday 29th April 2018

A week to the day after the hottest London Marathon Sunday on record, we held the Open Day in the Woodlands on one of the coldest days imaginable. No rain but a bitter wind and low temperatures.

So we were delighted and surprised by the number of people, and in particular families with young children, who visited the Woodlands.  Between 60 and 70 attended and a good time was had by all. Cakes and snacks were available from a stall in the glade under a tarpaulin which (erected without Rich’s assistance) it had taken other members of the committee a considerable time to erect in the morning. Luckily the wind was not that strong, or we might have lost it.

Kate setting up stall

The craft table







There was pond dipping with large amounts of mud, weed and the occasional tadpole being fished out by children and parents using our large nets.  The contents were transferred to dishes and microscopes enabled children to examine what they had found.

Pond water analysis

Pond water analysis







In addition, there was a stall where children were encouraged to colour cut outs of trees and make necklaces from things found in the woods.  Large numbers of worms were excavated and there were areas for children to dig (using the children’s tools acquired by the Friends last year) prior to being planted with a wild flower mix. Finally, there were the bees.  Posters set out the story of the Westcombe Bees and their hives, and Jeremy and Andrew (our two apiarists) were on hand to field the questions.

It would be over-stating things to say that there was a carpet of bluebells but clumps have now become established as have clumps of primroses. A pictorial quiz to find and identify flowers and leaves was prepared by Don and enthusiastically taken up by children with some 12 completed surveys.

Blue bell carpet

Clumps of Bluebells







What was particularly encouraging was the number of visitors who had not been to the Woodlands before and said that they would become Friends or volunteers.

Picnic in The Glade



Volunteer Day – Sunday 8th April 2018

Our 4th Woodland Volunteer morning this year got off to a bit of a soggy start, but somehow the wet weather brought out around 16 volunteers, most of whom stayed all the time. Although it feels still cool, and with the recent poor Easter Bank Holiday weekends weather in everybody’s minds, it was nice to see that trees were slowly starting to come in to leaf.

Hawthorn sapling coming in to leaf

View of The Glade’s fruit trees







One thing that hasn’t slowed down are the young sycamore seedlings, which are growing very well. The photo shows committee member Ruth Cracknell hard at work removing seedlings from our new “mini glade” area.  Other activities as well as weeding were the creation of more bird boxes. Volunteer Hazel can be seen sawing planks of wood to create the new bird boxes.  Other committee members include Donald Albrecht weeding one of the recently planted hedge areas.

Ruth Cracknell weeding sycamore saplings

Volunteer Hazel creating bird boxes

Don Albrecht weeding







Other projects started were the starting of installing steps to allow safer access to the beehives, as well as planting of more woodland plants at the main entrance with some small wood-garlic plants.

The longer days will hopefully allow more of our bluebells to flower in time for our Spring Open Day in 3 weeks’ time. Primroses were in full flower, and another woodland staple, Lords and Ladies, were all growing well.

Lords and Ladies

Primroses in flower

Young bluebells







Finally, the bees this morning were not active at all, and with cold and wet weather, who can blame them!

Volunteer Day – Sunday 4th March

We had our third 2018 volunteer day today – the first opportunity after the snow. Main activities were working on the new trench at the bottom of the mound, to develop a more varied habitat in that part of the wood, planting some native yews and building and putting up some new nesting boxes. Here are some photos of that, just to prove that it is not only a bunch of old folk doing this. Also a little video to show that our bees have woken up.
Thanks to all the volunteers for their hard work and, as always, to Frank for tea, coffee and biscuits.

Bird Box Installation

Bird Box Installation

Volunteer Day – Sunday 4th February 2018

Our second volunteer session of the year was very well attended with committee members, regular volunteers and new volunteers. This morning’s event started earlier than usual as the group undertook, under the leadership of local expert naturalist Joe Beale, an early morning bird survey. Full results will soon be available on the website, but the list included gold finches, robins and a sparrow hawk made their names to the list.

Regular tasks resumed later, including the general tidying up of the entrance area with further removal of fallen wood to be added to the existing dead-wood piles and removal of Ivy around the young hazel saplings that were planted last year in the entrance area. It’s a quiet time of the year in terms of planting, which allows the group to concentrate on more practical tasks. 

Clearing rubbish

Roofing felt being sized-up

Roofing felt being cut in to correct sizes

Roofing felt being put in to place






Roofing felt being put in to place









This included clearing the area at the entrance and covering with felt our outside store unit. Not all items need to be stored inside, some items can be happily left outside, this extra storage space will be a welcome addition.

The other project started today was to did a small trench or ditch at the bottom of the mound. This will allow for water to build up, creating another water feature for the woodland. It’s hoped that when the lining is added next month, rain water will keep this new feature topped-up and therefore providing another small, local wet area for water-liking fauna.

New water feature being dug

New water feature being dug







Although we are only half way through winter, there were plenty of signs of Spring’s arrival including primroses and snowdrops in flower. Bluebells are looking much bigger than last month, and the good quality woodlandplant Lords and Ladies was seen in very good numbers. Hazel catkins we’re still plentiful, but all the trees were still without leaves, although next month’s volunteer event will start to have the first leaves of Spring on display.

A primrose starting to flower

A single foxglove in the “mini- glade” area

Young bluebells in the “mini glade” area






Young bluebells in the “mini glade” area

Snowdrops starting to be in full flower

Lords-and-ladies starting to strongly grow


Retirement of Committee Member Frank Smith – November 2017

November 2017

November 2017 – Earlier this year it was announced by our former committee member and vice chairman, Frank Smith, that he has decided to step down from his post.  Frank has been without doubt one of the key participants in driving the Westcombe Woodlands project forward from the early days of 2011, to its current status as now being part of the Woodland Trust.  Frank’s valuable contributions to the smooth running of the Westcombe Woodlands can not be underestimated, from the organisation of newsletters, funding opportunities, liaison with Greenwich Council for grants, setting up a bank account, to hosting the committee’s regular meetings, to being ever present with refreshments on the volunteer mornings and to being a regular member at our open days, it would be hard to think that without his skills and diligence the project would never have got this far.

Although he is leaving his position, Frank will still be joining us on our monthly volunteer mornings and appearing on the twice yearly open days.

In honour of his achievements, in mid-November, past and present committee members had an enjoyable dinner in a local Greenwich pub, and as can be seen in the photos below, a good time was well and truly had by all!


Frank Smith – Celebratory Dinner

Frank Smith – Celebratory Dinner

Frank Smith – Celebratory Dinner