Looking back at 2016
It has been an exciting challenge each month to write a blog on what has happened and what we are actually doing each month in relation to managing Beatons Wood to maintain and enhance the bluebells and white wood anemones. Once we close for the year, plans are then made to try and improve the visitor experience for the following year, based on what has happened during those important five weeks. Fundamentally what we offer our visitors should not be changed. According to the comment cards we receive and speaking face to face, our visitors want to be able to walk in a private but peaceful and tranquil ancient wood, whilst observing the appearance of the spring flowers, culminating in the vistas of blue from the English bluebells, which they see flourishing in Beatons Wood.
This year we had record crowds over the five weeks we were open, due mainly to the weather conditions, which were neither too hot nor too wet, but just right to walk in our lovely countryside and watch spring unfolding. Dealing with the resultant large number of visitors and the cars in which they come can be challenging, especially as this year the ground was quite soft due to last year’s unusually wet and mild winter months. This year the opposite appears to be happening as little rain has to date fallen, so one dreads that nature balances itself, by reducing this deficiency of rainfall with prolonged April showers!
Looking forward to 2017
The two most important factors we have now finalized are what dates we open, and which charities will cover the five weeks chosen. This has now been done, so from Saturday 8 April we are open every day until Sunday 14 May, which means we will have both the Easter weekend and the May Bank Holiday. The website www.bluebellwalk.co.uk lists the charities and which dates they will be covering. We are planning to have our publicity leaflet printed and ready for distribution early in February, as if done too early they are sometimes picked up, read, put away and then forgotten!
A change you will notice this year in Beatons Wood, is that the many small panels around the Blue Walk that describe the flora and fauna that may be seen were looking rather tired, having been in situ for many years. They are being replaced with twenty one new coloured large panels (see images),
which means the Children’s Quiz questions will have to be re-written based on these new panels!
There will also be bent metal hoops similar to ones we saw at Sheffield Park (see image)
indicating that visitors are not to walk in certain areas. We have now produced our own, which will replace the twine strung across certain paths used effectively since we first opened, to guide our visitors through Beatons Wood. Immediately we see new tracks amongst the bluebells we hope the installation of these hoops will be persuasive in preventing others using that path, so quickly minimizing damage to our precious bluebells.
Amongst the buildings you will find the kitchen has been enlarged and re-organized to help charities in preparation of the food and drink they supply, which means the second hand book stall run by Action for Medical Research will lose some space. The enlarged photo of the Bluebell Wood covering the doors in the Ladies toilet is being replicated, but with other scenes, in both the Gents toilet and an eight foot by four foot image along the wall of the Animal Barn. Smaller copies of the three images, taken by Peter Goldsmith our photographer, will be on sale from the stall run by Hailsham Old Pavilion Society (HOPS).
We have just over three months before we open the 45th Arlington Bluebell Walk, so with the various changes we still have to do, my New Year’s resolution is to try and make good use every day available until the 8 April, to minimize that last minute rush we tend to get year in and year out, but time will tell!
My aim is for it to be posted on the website on Friday 30 December.