A true community woodland

By Sally Williams ǀ Volunteer, Forest of Marston Vale

My favourite wood is also one of our smallest and newest plantings, Waypost Wood, Cranfield. As well as being close to where I live, I was there for the public planting session in 2018. I was volunteering and waited at the bus stop in the High Street ready to direct the public to the site. It was an anxious moment on a bitterly cold Sunday morning. Would anybody come?

First I saw one family step out onto the pavement down the road. They were wrapped up against the cold. Were they coming to help or just out for a stroll? I didn't dare to hope until further down I saw more people coming, and then both sides of the road were getting busy. They were coming, and in large numbers! The High Street resembled a scene from a Lowry painting. Then the buses came: yes there were two double-deckers, so many people had turned up. Game on.

The public planted with enthusiasm and much good natured banter. We got cold, muddy and drank copious hot chocolate. And then it snowed to round things off. The laughter got louder. This truly was a community effort and a day to remember.

Although the planting is still immature, the views from this small park are second to none. The ancient wood of Holcot Wood lies to the south, then the gaze is drawn across farmland to Woburn and around to the modern sights of Milton Keynes. In the hedge adjacent to the Salford Rd is a World War II pillbox, a poignant reminder of Cranfield's more recent past.

This site has so much to offer and has been well used during the 2020/21 Coronavirus pandemic for daily exercise and a space of calm to reconnect with nature. And it will continue to be there for whatever comes next….

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