Ipswich Wildlife Group

Spring Wood

bluebells

Spring Wood is an ancient woodland, a County Wildlife Site and a Local Nature Reserve. Forming the heart of the Belstead Brook Park, it is adjacent to Millennium Wood LNR, Bobbits Lane LNR and the threatened Kiln Meadow. As well as the wide range of native tree species for such a relatively small wood, it is important for its spring flowers: first Anemones and then Bluebells, Red Campion, Stitchwort, and Wood Spurge can produce some impressive displays. It also provides habitat for a wide range of birds and animals including Nightingales, Weasels and a huge colony of toads.

The wood appears on a 1676 tithe map as “New Fell’d Wood” and this tells up about its name and function: the wood has clearly been coppiced for many centuries and the new growth or “spring” - from which the wood gets its name - which produces a large number of thin straight poles, used to provide tools and materials for generations of local people. Coppicing also creates valuable habitat for many woodland plant and animal species, and can extend the life of many trees in the process. It is a traditional method of managing woodland, and has been carried out in Britain for thousands of years.

Working in the Wood

Ipswich Wildlife Group continues this tradition of coppicing today. Parts of the wood are coppiced by monthly work parties on a seven-year rotation, and the produce sold to local gardeners and allotment holders as beanpoles, peasticks and firewood.  IWG also ensures easy access to the wood by maintaining paths & gates and limiting the invasive bracken and bramble.

IWG holds joint work parties with the Friends of Belstead Brook Park in the wood on the third Sunday of each month, from 10:30am to around 1:00pm. For more details, take a look at the diary or contact Ray Sidaway 01473 259104.

Coppicing
Coppicing - A Coppice “stool” before being cut (left), immediately after being cut (centre),
and one year after being cut (right): New shoots spring upwards again.

Coppicing
A volunteer coppicing in Spring Wood

During 2009

Despite the depredations of electricity company contractors and increased usage, Spring Wood has passed the year well and continues to provide a growing number of people with an enjoyable woodland experience. Visitors to the wood generally treat it with respect and so we have not had many problems with vandalism or litter this year.

The wood was completely litter-free early in April when the second “Don’t be a Tosser” event took place, Large numbers of volunteers litter-picked the A14 lay-by, Spring Wood, Millennium Wood and Bobbits Lane, some of them also appreciating the carpet of anemones in the wood at the time.

After that, it was the usual mad dash to get all the produce ready for the Beanpole Festival. We did not coppice as much as usual this year and had to get some beanpoles and peasticks from elsewhere, but Gerry and Sue managed to sell the whole lot in 1½ hours and raise about £400. Clearly the market is there and it would be good if we produce more material next year.

The flowers were magnificent again, but the birds less so. Some people heard nightingales but I didn’t and there seemed to be less warblers around. Maybe the presence of more people, and particularly more dogs, is having an adverse effect on some of the inhabitants of the wood.

The new season of coppicing is well under way but with the untimely death of Steve Thorpe we are lacking one of our most active and committed participants. Steve was a great friend of the wood, active and enthusiastic in work parties and always willing to help as needs arose. He was largely instrumental in securing the grant for the new Spring Wood notice board (soon to be in place), and I particularly valued his contributions in the summer where he had a real understanding of how to make the paths accessible to people and yet retain their woodland character. We all miss his smile, sense of humour, energy and drive and work parties in the wood will never be quite the same.

Getting to Spring Wood

Spring Wood lies about three and a half kilometres south of Ipswich town centre. Ipswich Buses routes 7 and 15 stop at Thorington Park on nearby Ellenbrook Road. From Ellenbrook Road take Bobbits Lane - where there is a small car park - and walk south through Millennium Wood or Kiln Meadow - it's no more than 500 metres from either the Car Park or Bus Stop. See location on Google Maps.