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17th May 2006
To the Woods... For a Fun Day

- From the Yorkshire Evening Post, article by Simon Jenkins

If you go down to the woods today you're sure of a big surprise. Well, it may not be today and there may not be any picnicking teddy bears - but there's plenty else going on at Gledhow valley Woods in north Leeds this Saturday.

The wood is a dense ribbon of green which stretches for a mile from the Allerton Granges almost to Roundhay Road and is well worth a visit.

Certainly worth more than the cursory glance you might five while shooting past on your way to Tesco. There are interesting footpaths, a beck, a lake, an historic bath house and a surprisingly rich variety of wildlife - frogs, owls, hedgehogs and a remarkably community of urban foxes - on what is essentially a spare bit of land sandwiched between two intensive housing estates.

Thankfully the planners who laid out Leeds allowed these little pockets of nature to survive, providing little "green lungs" of recreation for those who don't happen to live near the wide open spaces of Roundhay Park, Cross Flatts or Golden Acre.

The woods are maintained by The Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods who have done lots of good work to keep them accessible to those who live round about. They've built new footpaths, put in benches, planted bulbs, opened up the 17th century bathhouse for occasional visitors, as well as carrying out mundane regular tasks like cutting back the trees and brambles and clearing the litter that gets stupidly dumped here by people just casually passing through without giving a thought to their surroundings.

The Friends have also put themselves at the forefront of local campaigns to improve the local environment. They have highlighted drainage problems - a nearby sewer was regularly getting blocked, with nasty consequences - and they have fought a successful battle for traffic calming measures along the busy valley road.

And I have to say nice things about them because they know where I live.

Anyhow this Saturday afternoon sees their annual family fun day, which I would certainly be at, if I were not heading down to Cardiff for the football.

But we've been to these events before and they are certainly great fun and give you that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing you are actually supporting something decent and "right-on" and worthwhile - without actually having to commune with Mother Nature in the sense of clearing weeds around the lake or trimming any brambles.

So there will be wildlife and forestry displays. You'll get the chance to do clay modelling, T-shirt painting or join the drum workshop. You can hunt for bugs or make bird boxes, or you can just sit with an ice cream in the sunshine (here's hoping) and watch the "Urban Circus", the steel band and the firefighters who have been booked to perform.

And who knows - you might even find it such an enlightening experience that you sign up for the Friends and help this dedicated little band continue their valuable work?

The event runs from 1.30pm to 5pm this Saturday at the grassland area beyond Chapel Allerton Park, where Gledhow Valley Road meets Allerton Grange Way. For more information about the work of the Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods visit www.fgvw.co.uk.

"They are certainly great fun and give you that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing you are actually supporting something decent and "right-on" and worthwhile."

Simon Jenkins

- end -

Have a look in the Events Gallery to find out what happened at this year's Family FunDay, including photos and a 360 degree panorama.

If you come across any articles in newspapers or magazines which relate to the Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods, or to the woods in general, please contact us so we can add them to the site.

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