Sunday, 9 June 2013

Woodland Month Part One: Blackley Forest and Boggart Hole Clough

June 9th - July 9th is Woodland Month on the Young Explorer blog! Over the next few weeks we'll be posting a series of bits and bobs about our favourite type of geographical feature. Basically, anything we can think of that is even slightly related to woods or forests or trees or the kind of animals that live in woods or forests or trees.

This first post is going to be about a couple of super beautiful wooded areas that you can visit in Manchester. We'd love to hear about where you like to go and pretend you're in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, or where you take your dog for a walk or whatever it is that you do in the woods. 

We are going to be utilising every single one of our 'social media channels' for this, so feel free to: Tweet us, talk to us on Facebook and tag us on Instagram with your top tips. And you can follow our Woodland Pinterest board here. Phew!

We very rarely venture into North Manchester, but I'd heard people mention Blackley Forest before as they sometimes do mushroom foraging days there. It isn't, however, marked on Google Maps. Perhaps this is why, on a lovely warm Saturday afternoon, we were the only people in there.

According to its very informative website, Blackley Forest was planted in 1953 and was Manchester's 'first true community forest'. It was made into a local nature reserve in 2005 and it is a lovely hidden treasure that you should definitely go and visit. It's extremely easy to get to as well. Just get the Metrolink to Bowker Vale and it is about a five minute walk from there.

After leaving the forest, we made the short walk over to Heaton Park to eat our picnic. As it was a hot day, the park was absolutely packed with people. They should have gone to Blackley Forest instead! Although our visit to the forest might not have been so nice if it had been full of people. We'd prefer to keep it as our little tree-filled secret.

Also in Blackley (North Manchester has it pretty good when it comes to woods and forests), the bizarrely named Boggart Hole Clough is the larger, more mainstream sister to Blackley Forest. It even has a café and a boating lake. If Heaton Park is the One Direction of urban green spaces, I reckon Boggart Hole Clough would be, uh, The Wanted? I don't know which boy band Blackley Forest would be in this ill advised, not-really-making-sense metaphor.

It's a little bit harder to get to from Central Manchester and we had to get the bus (!). It was worth the effort, though. It's got loads of lovely paths running through the trees, up fairly steep banks and there are even bridges going over brooks and streams and things. 

You can buy stuff to feed the ducks that live on the boating lake from the café, so we did. They went a bit mad and didn't seem to understand when the bag had been emptied so we had to make a run for it. Greedy geese are terrifying, with all their flapping and hissing and what have you.

Boggart Hole Clough  is undoubtedly 'better' than Blackley Forest. It's much bigger and there's loads of different paths you can explore. But it's not as cosy, and there were actual people there too, so our picnic kept getting interrupted by nosey dogs. Worth a visit though, and you could probably do both forests in the same day if you wanted to have double forest fun!

More forest related stuff to come over the next few weeks! Remember, get in touch with all your tree related tips, please! Maybe we'll do a little blog post with all our favourite suggestions at some point?

See yer!


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