Review: Not at its best in October; go when it’s warmer
Tip: follow the satnav in this case it makes a better job of finding it.
Brampton wood and the start of many wood visits.
Communing with nature is restorative: http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/we-know-nature-makes-us-happier-now-science-says-it-makes-us-kinder-too-20160312.
So to start with this appeared to be a great choice.
The Wildlife Trusts’ guidebook states that they have managed the wood since 1992. They bought it from the Ministry of Defence.
Guidebook: Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire Northamptonshire guide: “Where to See Wildlife in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire”.
I was attending the Bolnhurst Steam Fair http://www.bolnhurstrally.org.uk/ when someone came up and sold me membership. This is not an organisation I would have thought of but I am supportive of any group that puts trees before house building.
They have a good little guide to local woods and also a website worthy of a visit: http://www.wildlifebcn.org/.
Brampton Wood has been a site of Special Scientific Interest since 1954.
But it turns out that spotting wildlife is somewhat more difficult than on some of our trips abroad.
The wood is home to dormice (which were re-introduced in 1992) but so far all we seem to have seen in our woodland visits are species of canine on and off leads.
It is the second largest woodland in Cambridgeshire at 132 hectares (327 acres). The largest is Bedford Purlieus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedford_Purlieus_NNR. (Which might be the subject of a future visit/blog item).
The Wildlife Trusts organisation have a good leaflet on Brampton Wood: http://data.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/Brampton%20Wood%20Leaflet%202015.pdf.
But the wood majored less on the picturesque and more on the damp and cold the day that I went.
The guidebook states there are more than two miles of wide mown pathways and some minor pathways and follows: “pathways maybe muddy” – read will be very muddy. Take wellies (and a small tractor to drag you out).
Brampton wood appears easy to find. But where it appeared to be on the map was not where the satnav wished us to go. We went with our own judgement, and got lost. (OS Ref is TL 184 698).
If you want to find it Google indicates that it is here:
Directions are: From A1, take A14 exit towards Huntingdon. Take the first exit off A14 to Brampton (B1514). Go straight at the first roundabout then right at the second roundabout. Turn right at the T-junction on to Grafham Road. Follow Grafham Road through the village and over the A1. The reserve is on the north side of the road – 1/2 mile out of Brampton. A brown sign indicates the entrance to the wood. Park in the small car park. (When they say small they are not kidding).
Following the satnav lead to a tiny left-hander off the A1. This looked to need the sort of deceleration which the Beagle Lander attempted on Mars.
As a result we took the circuitous route. This required navigation of a narrow road with enough oncoming traffic to provide diversion. After many wood-related trips we found this was typical.
Being a virgin of wood visits I anticipated a car park devoid of vehicles, our journey punctuated by some kindly gamekeeper (with a discussion of pheasant breeding practices or some such).
But turning into the most bijou of car parks I found it already well inhabited with vehicles which could have labelled modern, shiny, and family.
We squeezed in at the end of a row of these.
Vehicles distinguished by large rear load areas. Every one of those vehicles contained inhabitants which you could call “Rover”.(Second piece of education of the day).
All varieties of fur – caked in material which was going to need more than a small towel to remonstrate with.
Each one of the human car inhabitants turned out to have a species of cheeriness, this associated with bobble-hat, fleece, and large rangy hound.
We had snaffled the last space (or so we thought). Yet another shiny Tonka-toy-thing burbled in behind. The driver did not resort to shouting or fist-waving so I assume found somewhere to slot it.
The ground was that species of compliant which one will be familiar with if embarking-out barefoot on a wet evening and murdering a large slug in darkness with one’s toes as the offensive weapon.
Phil’s recommendation: go when it’s warmer. Although given how popular woods turn out to be with dog walkers you are always going to have a lot of company.
It is a top site for bluebells in the spring so that may well be worth a try. I wouldn’t bother with October. Unless you have a 4×4 and something large with waggy tail which doesn’t smell great when it’s wet.
Fortunately the ground was well furnished with leaves. Rainfall sufficiently far in the past that waders were not a necessity.
The Wildlife Trusts’ booklet informs me that the wood is at least 900 years old. And so had a mention in the Domesday Book.
I’m sure in the summer it is a goodly place. But the day we went it had the kind of sombre air usually reserved for death and religious buildings. (Or some combination of those).
We decided to do a circuit (starting at the noticeboards).
And so embarked on a journey around what one imagined to be the circumference – just inside the tree line.
Diverting at intervals to have privacy from the next bobble-hatted group.
In places there were stands of conifers – planted when the Government managed the wood.
These are being removed for the wood to re-establish.
The circuit seemed too brief to me and convinced me that we must have taken the wrong route.
I’d only said good morning to 1/2 dozen people or so and I estimated the population at that time to be several times that. So where had they all gone?
After reviewing the map of the wood we realised that we had only circuited part of it. So there was a lot left to see on future visits.
A little of a good thing convinced me that more of this experience would prove more fulfilling. So decided that this wildlife idea was for me.
Gazing between the trees gave me brief memories of Borneo. It was with sadness I realised that we would see no macaque this trip. (Nor catch our clothes on any rattan).
Back to the car. The surrounding shiny and four wheel drive had swapped about a bit but not reduced in number. So lesson of wood exploration wood=popular=pooches began to form in my mind.
Stately homes seem to be the places where frazzled adults take their small person. Woods however are where red cheeked outdoors people range about with carnivores.
Well there’s a learning point.
Brampton as we found out later was remarkable in its tidiness (i.e. no dog faeces).
Despite the car park it also proved to be unrepresentative in its lack of population. Subsequent woods were to prove much more popular.