Galleywood is very fortunate in having a fine network of footpaths and bridleways, totalling 23 km (14 miles), these are set out in the free Galleywood Parish Footpaths Map (3rd Edition) available in paper form from the Parish Council Office or the Heritage Centre office
Galleywood Parish Council is very pleased to release the following highlighted walk in our 'new look' leaflets.
Galleywood Walk Seven - The Common Tree Trail (Google Map) (PDF Map)
“The information provided in this leaflet is accurate at the time of going to press. Neither the author nor the Parish Council accepts responsibility for your personal safety. It is your responsibility to ensure you are able to equipped appropriately. Follow the Countryside Code at all times (see www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk for further details).”
The Common Tree Trail starts at the Heritage Centre (TL702 029). Trees on The Common are predominantly Oak and Birch.Other varieties seen on the walk as individual specimens or groups are mentioned below. The sketch map, based on Ordnance Survey shows the wooded areas as described in CCC’s leaflet on The Common Ten Year Plan. W1 etc is used to designate wooded areas,
MW1 etc is used for mature woodland, and there are two shelter belts SB1 and SB2. Footpaths and bridleways are numbered as on the Galleywood Footpath Map.
From the Heritage Centre main vehicle entrance, cross BR79 and walk west across HS2 into MW2 where you will find a large Sweet Chestnut which is quite rare in the wild because they do not germinate freely. Continue south through MW2 to join BR80 where it comes out onto open farmland. Return up to the Common on
BR80 passing some Hornbeam on your left and the garden of Farthings on your right which contains a Sweet Chestnut, probably the parent of those in MW2.
Turn right onto BR79 at the entrance to Farthings and continue south through SB1 to two bridleway posts marking the
entrance to W8. On your left is a young Walnut tree. Continue through W8 looking for coppiced Oaks and join the Wood Farm approach track. Wood Farm is shown on the 1777 Chapman and Andrè Map as Gally Wood and there is a persistent local rumour that oak was taken from this wood to build a vessel for the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. From the Wood Farm approach road look south down the lower Common to see the remains of an avenue of trees planted by the Rural District Council in the 1950’s to shade the footpath along Stock Road from Galleywood to Bakers Lane.
Return up the race course finishing straight observing the Apple trees on the edge of W6; take the track through W6 looking out for dead Silver Birch trees used by green woodpeckers. When you reach Brick Kiln Pond (P3) pass round the south and east sides.
Opposite the first seat, the Environmental Group (teg) have woven willow to reinforce the pond edge. Other tree varieties in this boggy area round the pond are Aspen, Rowan, Holly and Elder. Turn right away from the pond after crossing the first little bridge and head north east to where the race course used to cross Stock Road.
Walk up the old racecourse passing on your right one of the few Ash trees on The Common, followed by a fine example of an Aspen. On your left in W5 is a magnificent Sycamore which shows signs of being coppiced some 50 years ago. Coppiced trees often live longer than trees with a single trunk. Turn left along FP47 at Three Chimneys for 150 metres, then turn right into W3 to join FP49 and walk towards Margaretting Road passing the remains of the Napoleonic Defences. W3 contains Laurel, Rowan and Holly as well as the usual Oak and Birch. The rough area of land between W3 and Margaretting Road is designated as Wet Lowland Heath (U1). It was cleared of trees in 2004 to encourage the regeneration of lowland heath but because the trees were not uprooted they are now starting to grow back.
Cross Margaretting Road and continue on FP49 to St Michaels Church where there are two fine Scots Pine at the Church gate. Inside the Churchyard are several interesting trees including Cedar, Horse Chestnut, Red Oak, Copper Beech, and Lime. Before the Church was built in 1873, this area of land was shown on the old OS maps as a Pinetum.
From the Church take the path west through W1 to the northwest corner of G3.
The Walk can be started at any point and taken in either direction. Appropriate footwear should be worn. Dogs should be on leads
This grassland was an old Rural District tip site. Walk along the north side of G3 passing many fine Oaks in W1 and plenty of fruit trees including Apples, Plums, Elderberries and Blackberries. In a little copse on G3 opposite the entrance to the Margaretting Road car park is a multi-stemmed Prunus which has a modest crop of Yellow Plums in late July/early August. The north side of G3 is being colonised by Aspens and Brambles.
Turn north towards the Horse & Groom PH past the pond (P1) through the lowland heath area H1 to join the track separating H1South from H1North. H1 was partially cleared of gorse in 2004 to give a larger area for the regeneration of heather. Some Oak on the northern perimeter of H1 was retained as a screen between The Common and the Horse & Groom car park.
Turn left on the track between H1 South and H1 North and cross the old racecourse turning left on Horse and Groom Lane to join Mill Hill. Go down Mill Hill and turn left opposite Thorpes Cottage onto the footpath which takes you down to The Mire. This boggy area is cleared twice a year by the Environmental Group (teg) to encourage the growth of Sphagnum Moss and other typical bog plants.
Walk east from The Mire up the path to join Bekeswell Lane and cross onto the old racecourse. Follow the old racecourse south crossing Margaretting Road and keeping the boundary fence of Stables Nursery and the Heritage Centre on your right. Along this fence line you will find Small-leaved Lime, Yellow Gages and Cherry Trees. On your left in Area B1 is a fine Walnut tree on top of the Napoleonic Defences.
Follow round the boundary of the Heritage Centre back to your starting point.
Oak—Few kinds of woodland are as rich in life as an Oak wood. This is partly due to the culmination of a succession of plant communities growing and competing on the same piece of ground. The open canopy allows light to reach the forest floor and the soft oak leaves rot quickly forming a rich dense leaf mould.
These conditions support an abundance of other tree and shrub species. These in turn provide food and cover for many animals, insects and birds. Green woodpeckers hunt insects and beetle larve in the bark of Oak Trees. The galls or growths called Oak Apples and the greenish-red spangled galls on Oak leaves are caused by the grubs of the gall-wasp. Plants such as Primroses, Violets, Ferns and Bramble thrive due to the rich soil and plentiful light.
Rowan—Beautiful in the Autumn, its ripe berries attract the birds. Sometimes called the Mountain Ash, but it is not related. The Rowan was planted outside houses and in churchyards to ward off witches. Its strong flexible wood was used for making tool handles and also longbows as an alternative to Yew.
Scots Pine—is the only Pine native to Britain. James Parry in the National Trust book ‘Heathland’ says that the twisted Scots Pines are good examples of character trees which can enhance the heathland landscape and also merit consideration as worthwhile components in the wider heathland context. A lone Scots Pine on heathland is immortalised by AA Mile in the story ‘Tiggers Don’t Climb Trees.
Sweet Chestnut—was probably introduced to Britain by the Romans who dried the chestnuts slowly over an open fire and then ground and mixed them with milk to make a form of porridge called Polenta. British summers are too cool for the chestnuts to ripen to full size.
Sycamore—The Sycamore is Europe’s largest Maple, growing to 35 Metres and is sometimes known as the Great Plane or Great Maple. It was often planted around farms to provide shade and keep the diary cool. Sycamore wood is creamy white, easy to work and does not warp; these qualities make it popular for furniture and decoratively grained pieces are used for veneers and for musical instruments.
Walnut—A native of Asia Minor, the Walnut was imported to Rome from Greece in about 100BC. The Romans carried the fruit with them when they conquered Britain as a prized fruit and as a source of cooking oil. The resemblance of the peeled Walnut to the human brain led to the medieval belief that it could cure mental disorders. The husks of walnut contain a juice that will readily stain anything it comes into contact with. It has been used as a dye for cloth.
The Firewood Poem
The firewood poem was written by Celia Congreve, is believed to be first published in THE TIMES newspaper on March 2nd 1930.
Beechwood fires are bright and clear, If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut's only good they say, If for logs 'tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree, Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old, is fit for a queen with crown of gold
Birch and fir logs burn too fast, Blaze up bright and do not last,
it is by the Irish said Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould, E'en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown, is fit for a queen with golden crown
Poplar gives a bitter smoke, Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room, Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old, keep away the winter's cold
But ash wet or ash dry, a king shall warm his slippers by.
Historical details from Christine Whybro’s “19th Century Galleywood” and Muriel Sanders “Glimpses of Galleywood”.
Walk devised by Malcolm Stuart and Gillian Parker.
© Galleywood Parish Council. E&OE— Revision 2016