Posted by: lensweb | May 15, 2013

Risley Tree Walk – May 2013

May 13  Risley Tree Walk

Meet at Risley Village Hall car park (next to church) off Derby Road, Risley

Grid ref  SK 460 357 Postcode DE72 3SU

Leader  Pat Ancliffe

LENS members travelled through sleet and rain to meet in the Village Hall car park. Pat Ancliff Risley Parish Councillor and  Erewash Borough Council Tree Warden, distributed copies of her walk leaflet ‘Trees with stories to tell’ and we set off on our walk.

LENS Members with Bird Cherry

LENS Members with Bird Cherry

Since 1930, Risley Parish Council have planted memorial trees, Pat has recovered the history. First we saw an oak tree planted for Prince Charles and Diana’s 1981 wedding. Then we posed under a bird cherry bursting with blossom. We were surrounded by magnificent buildings, Risley Church and Risley Hall on land once owned by the Willoughbys of Wollaton hall.  One horse chestnut and 2 elms remain from 7 Queen’s coronation trees, planted 1954. In front gardens and the school grounds are some of the 14 copper beeches planted to remember the villagers who fell in World War 1, named on the war memorial. The 4 huge yews in the churchyard may be 200 years old.
Two ancient lime trees photographed at the turn of the century are in the front garden of the old School House.

Wild garlic

Wild garlic

Turning into The City, the gardens of the Old Post Office alongside the brook, were very colourful. We passed the old horse chestnut tree and the willow at Willow Bridge where George Smith, past LENS Chairman, used to live. Drawn in by nostalgia we squidged into Risley Wilderness, a white starry wonderland of  luscious aromatic wild garlic.  A birdsong pause, song thrush, blackbird and robin. Pipistrelle bats, tawny owls and little owls live in the wood. Ivy clad, the majestic ribbed veteran hornbeam was leaning.

Risley Brook runs through marshy land at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Risley Glebe Nature Reserve and is a crossroads of footpaths leading to Dale Abbey and Hopwell.  Turning away and crossing a stile, we walked alongside a tall hedge punctuated with wrinkled grey ash trees. The blackthorn was just bursting into leaf, white petals bruising brown. Wych elm saplings were full of shining papery nuts.

The footpath led across a wheat field to Risley Bluebell Wood which is owned by an American lady, who bought it in memory of her grandfather. Deep blue moment: The gentle fragrance from the drooping bells delighted, red campion and cuckoo pint were just opening. Plaited hornbeam bark with catkins, oak, sycamore and horse chestnut, evening candles lighting up. In the corner, fenced off, brambles hid a bat roost in an old water reservoir.

The feathery flowers of an ancient ash tree cut a delicate tracery against the blue sky, we basked. Pale pink cuckoo flower peeped above long grass in the cottage garden. The elaborate scrolled gates of Risley Lodge marked the green raised track of Park Drive across the field: Imagine the carriage carrying the Hooley family children, Ernest-Terah, Teresa and Basil, along the private drive to church. Terah Hooley, founder of the Long Eaton lace mills is buried in Risley churchyard.

At the end of the path, deep gold cowslips shone at the bottom of the hedge by Manor Farm. Along the main road, a twisting multi-stemmed elm tree is an Indian puzzle left from a huge elm which was cut down 40 years ago. 5 King George VI memorial trees remain from 18 planted on the roadside bank in 1936. The young trees were damaged by drunken revellers 70 years ago. Once known as The Blue Ball, the public house was originally the Ffych Arms but is now called the Risley Park.

This was a beautiful evening, sweet with flowers and memories.

Marion Bryce


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