Sunday, 12 May 2013

YWT Hetchell Wood - 12 May 2013

Not quite the balmy Spring weather we enjoyed last weekend! Braving the chilly wind and the rain, we headed off west to Hetchell Wood. This wood is a little tricky to find though we did a recce before Christmas so this time it was straight forward.

The directions in the book are useful if you come from Leeds but otherwise are not too helpful - I will sort this out in the second edition. Coming from the A1(M) Junction 44, take the road to Bramham off the roundabout. Heading north parallel to the A1, go through the traffic lights and past the left turn to Bramham Park. Go past the right turns to Bramham and Tadcaster and then take the next left over the A1 towards Thorner. Follow this for a good mile or so and as the road turns sharply to the left, take the right fork as if going straight on. Follow this road for c2.5 miles until you come to a T junction. Turn left here down Milner Lane and the nature reserve car park is on either side of the road after about 1/3 mile.

Hetchell Wood is simply beautiful at this time of year. The trees around the car park - Blackthorn etc are in full blossom, the Beech  and Hazel are bursting with vivid green new leaves and the woodland floor is literally carpeted in Bluebells, Wood Anemones, Wild Garlic, Yellow Archangel and Dog Violets. The meadows have a scattering of Cowslips and there is the odd clump of Primroses. Stunning! We did the full loop of the reserve, enjoying the views from the top of the Millstone Grit crags and then through the two newly-coppiced areas stuffed with wild flowers. It was interesting to note the difference between the coppiced area above the path which seemed to have been done a couple of years ago and was carpeted with flowers enjoying the light, whilst that below the path which must have just been coppiced this winter already has large patches of woodland flowers appearing. The coppice stools had been covered with brash or fenced to prevent deer browsing and this was clearly working well as the Hazel in the older compartment was growing nicely.

Back along the Bardsey Beck, we enjoyed views up to the crags and luminous clumps of gaudy Marsh Marigolds growing in the damp patches in the wet woodland by the beck.

A few birds about though most were only heard. These included a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker, yaffling Green Woodpecker, mewing Red Kite and plenty of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and a Garden Warbler. Nice to see plenty of queen bumblebees buzzing about.

Bluebells mixing it with the Cowslips in the first meadow

Hazel flowers

Yellow Archangel

Hetchell Crags. Where the Millstone Grit meets the Magnesian Limestone.

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