Hawley Meadows Story Trail

Next time you are wandering around Hawley Meadows, why not follow “The Story of the Nymphs and the Boggart”.

Look out for the the first post just over the bridge from the car park to start your story. The story has been attached to each of the eight posts or you can download from here.

Each stopping point tells the next part of the tale and let’s you be part of the story. We’d love to hear and see what you enjoyed most. What do you think they looked like?

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Claycart Car Park Closure

Please be aware that Claycart Car Park, Wellesley Woodlands will be shut from Monday 8th February following damage to the car park surface from antisocial behaviour, in the interests of health and safety until repairs are completed.

As soon as we have more information, we will let you know.

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Ramping up access at Rowhill

Yesterday Stu and I headed up to Rowhill Nature Reserve where we built and infilled the last remaining ramp. It was great to finish off the boardwalk and get so many compliments from visitors.

Stu showing off the last ramp

Senior Ranger Stuart

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Roving at Rowhill – a transformed boardwalk

Today I popped down to Rowhill to see the newly-installed replacement boardwalk, and took some comparison photos to show the dramatic transformation.

The earlier wooden boardwalk through an area of wet woodland, was showing it’s age and had become uneven and slippery. So it was replaced with a more accessible & longer-lasting recycled plastic design. It was a great opportunity to work with our partners, with our Blackwater Valley Ranger Team led by Stu installing the main section, and then working with the Rowhill Nature Reserve Volunteers and Christian on the second length.

Eastern end of boardwalk – before and after

Middle of boardwalk – before and after

Western end of boardwalk – before and after

A huge thank you to everyone involved for all their hard work. The new boardwalk is a fantastic addition to Rowhill Nature Reserve and is attracting lots of positive comments from visitors.

Senior Ranger Stuart


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Rowhill Boardwalk

This week the Blackwater Valley Rangers went to Rowhill Nature Reserve to install the long awaited Boardwalk. The Boardwalk is made of recycled plastic which in the very wet condition will last for many  years, opposed to the wooden version which in time would rot and need replacing.

The section pictured is 27 meters long and will have ramps leading up to it at either end. The 27 meters was completed by the Blackwater Valley Ranger team in just 4 days. There is going to be a second section installed which will be 9 meters long. The Rowhill Nature Reserve Volunteers have kindly offered to install this section within the next few weeks.

I would like to thank all of the Blackwater Valley Rangers who have come along this week to help and support on this great project. I managed to have a catch up with Christian from the Rowhill Volunteers on Thursday and he gave a hand to move the remaining  tread boards to the work location. I think this boardwalk is a great addition to the site and many visitors will enjoy having not so wet and muddy feet in the winter months.

Cheers Stu.

Posted in Access, Bridges, Conservation, Rowhill, Volunteers | Tagged | 1 Comment


I spotted this tame Goldfinch harvesting seeds from Forget-me-nots.


Senior Ranger Stuart

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Stu’s Back.

Good Morning All,

Tuesday was my first day back at Ash lock. For me and my family it has been a very long lockdown. Working from home for me was interesting, as you know I am a practical go out and get it done, not an desk worker. That being said it has not been quiet as I have been home schooling my 4 young children (I do not envy teacher’s). I am currently now working on a Tuesday and Thursday then back to full time in August.

Tuesday was very exciting for me to start and get back to work and some type of normality. Blackwater Valley currently have the Massey tractor and hired the Amazone cut and collect.  I headed over to Shawfield and got the rotational cut of the meadows there done. It was great being back on site after a long time away. Thursday I avoided the rain and went to Snaky lane nature reserve, Rushmoor bottom to do their meadow cuts. In the damp conditions the Amazone has been working well this year.

I hope to see and work with you all in the not too distant future.

Ranger Stu.

Posted in Access, Ash Lock, BV path, Conservation, General Information, Minor Sites, Sites, Wellesley Woodlands, Wildlife | Leave a comment

A gripping saga!

It all started during lockdown!

When restrictions were lifted slightly and we were classed as keyworkers, I was able to visit some of our sites to carry out inspections, which included looking at everything such as the fences, gates, bins, noticeboards and bridges.

Whilst out in Wellesley Woodlands, I thought it would be a good idea to make the bridges a little more practical for wet and icy times, by adding anti-slip grips. Once approval was granted and the bridges at Claycart, Puckridge and Rushmoor Bottom were measured, it was time get shopping.

The order was placed for 135 bridge grips to be sent to my home, as we couldn’t always guarantee someone would be at Ash Lock, as we were still working in cells and usually out, busy path cutting.

It started well and the delivery arrived a day earlier than expected, but unfortunately only 72 of the grips. It was time to call the supplier, who deeply apologised and promised the next delivery to be with me soon. A few days later, I was messaged that it had been left at my house. As I was at work when it was delivered, I had to wait until I got home to check. To my dismay, rather than the missing 63 anti-slip grips, I had 2 anti-slip marine decking grids measuring almost 1.8m x 1.2m and extremely heavy! The despatch note attached to these were for my grips, and certainly not what had actually arrived!

After several more calls, more apologies and a wait of a further 6 days my delivery finally arrived but the courier wasn’t informed about taking away the incorrect order, so these are still leaning up against the side of my house! (Interestingly the delivery note with my correct order was for the marine grids that should have been delivered to Anglian Water in Ipswich…)

Finally, Laura and I were able to install the anti-slip grips on the Wellesley Woodland bridges. 966 screws later and this saga was over. I hope you appreciate the new look bridges when out on your next walk in Wellesley. Now I just need to get the courier to come and get these grids to Suffolk…

Claycart - Before Claycart - AfterRushmoor Bottom - Before Rushmoor Bottom - AfterPuckridge - After

Assistant Ranger Matt






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Common Carder Bee

This fluffy bumblebee looks like a Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum), with the ginger top of the thorax and cream & black hairs in the abdomen. ID can be a challenge as colouring varies a lot between individuals, location and castes (queen, worker, done). Look out for the nests of these social bees amongst dense vegetation under bushes, in tree holes or nest boxes.

Senior Ranger Stuart

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Is it a Podgy Hoverfly?

There’s been a bizarre black buzzing insect in the garden. It zips speedily around flowers then loiters with expert hovering, like a podgy Hoverfly. In a few lucky photos, I managed to identify it as a Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes). 

It is the largest species of Flower Bee, with this entirely black female looking  distinctly unlike a bee. The orange blobs on her hind legs are where pollen is trapped in the long hairs of her pollen brushes.

They are common in gardens and parks in most parts of southern England, so keep a eye out for a ‘podgy hoverfly’.

Senior Ranger Stuart

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