Join the Friends of Bernards Heath for a guided walk and exploration of this fascinating area’s history, ecology and planning issues at 2pm on Sunday 10 September 2017.
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The Sandridge Road Wastes are the grassed areas on both sides of this road designated as Common Land. Parking is a major problem on the road, especially between Boundary Road and Bernards Heath Primary School, the area marked in blue in the map below.
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Google aerial view of the site, early 2017. The area that was under occupation is superimposed in red.
We learnt with some concern this week that travellers had broken into the area behind the old fire station, just off Harpenden Road. It was fenced off and locked, but force had been used to gain entry. Read more ›
Sunny weather on Sunday 23 April may have helped us, for about a dozen people turned out to remove litter (see inset) and clear growth around the top of the Dyke. The bluebells made it a picture and their smell was wonderful, especially at the eastern end of the Dyke, near the railway. Only native bluebells smell so strongly. Well done everyone who helped.
At the end of January Bernards Heath lost Peter Butcher, almost certainly its oldest resident. Ninety two years old, he had lived all his life in Upper Culver Road, bar military service at the end of WW II. At one time Butchers were to be found at several addresses in the streets to the east of the Heath. Their occupational speciality was well-sinking. After leaving the army Peter briefly tried the family business, then shoe-making, the Ariston suet factory on the Heath, finally settling for aircraft at de Havillands, Hatfield, for the rest of his working life. Read more ›
Bluebells have appeared on the Heath early this year and there are two general types – native and Spanish, but can you tell the difference? The picture (above left} shows the Spanish type which is more prolific with upright stems, no scent and bell-shaped flowers with open tips.
The native type on the right have a droop at the top, a sweet perfume and narrow bell-shaped flowers with rolled back tips.
Left – nest on trunk, Right – cluster of moths
We reported on the Oak Processionary Moth last year, which can defoliate trees, especially oak. As far as we know, none have been seen on the Heath and the nearest outbreak was in Watford. Contact with these moths should be avoided because they have irritating spines which can cause an allergic reaction. They are likely to emerge in early April.
For a fuller account of this moth, see the Forestry Commission update.
This heavy branch (top photo) )was left across the track from Townsend Drive to the Ancient Briton as the result of Storm Doris. Our chainsaw was faulty, so we were reduced to muscle power and bow saws (inset). As a result this precariously perched branch was moved out of the way. A fallen tree in Harpenden Road caused traffic to be diverted to Townsend Drive/Waverley Road on Saturday afternoon.
Left to right: William Naylor of Buttle’s Building Supplies, with Peter Cook and Rod Keat, Friends of Bernards Heath
Bernards Heath is a unique, widely used public space in St Albans. Close to the centre of town, it provides attractive open spaces and woodland of historic interest, quite unlike parks in the city.
Unfortunately, its very nature lends itself to to unsightly fly tipping. Recently, it has happened in nearby Soothouse Spring, next to Beech Bottom Dyke, an impressive ancient earthwork, which the Friends of Bernards Heath has opened up and tried to keep litter free. Fortunately, two local businesses, Buttle’s Building Supplies and A1 Tools and Fixings, have jointly supported the installation of a substantial fence alongside the Dyke to deter follow-up incidents. The area is now covered by surveillance cameras. Read more ›
Until now it’s been almost impossible to find a parking space in Townsend Drive, Palfrey Close or Waverley Road because of all day parking. Bernards Heath is on the right-hand side of the photo.
The introduction this week of a controlled parking zone (see inset) has had a dramatic effect. In the afternoons when parking is unrestricted, there are usually spaces.