When Haughley Parish Council took on the ownership of the former Haughley Picnic Site there were some parishioners who thought we must be mad. After all everybody knew that it had had an unsavoury reputation for years, to such an extent that the previous owner, Suffolk County Council had virtually mothballed the site and even knocked down a perfectly serviceable toilet block.
So what was it that we acquired? Well, a fantastic 22acre local amenity that gives enormous pleasure to the increasing number of visitors who walk dogs, have picnics and take their children to play. In 1986 Suffolk County Council planted an Arboretum, where every species of tree that is native to Suffolk is represented. After nearly thirty years these trees are approaching maturity, and the imaginative planting scheme which incorporates wide paths, provides a series of stunning vistas at all times of the year. Elsewhere there are open spaces which are great for children to expend some energy. When it snows a curious man-made hill comes into its own and provides the only tobogganing opportunity for miles around, even skiers have been spotted.
Recently an organised fungus hunt was a great success (thanks to Suffolk Wildlife who provided a very knowledgeable fungus expert). Children and adults found an amazing number of species (57 actually!), including one example which may be unique in Suffolk.
Visitors are welcome at all times of the year; parking is provided in the approach road, where John the Burger Man offers great bacon sandwiches and coffee.
For more information about Gallowsfield Wood, including how to get there, please check out www.gallowsfieldwood.wordpress.com
By Geoffrey Kay, on behalf of Haughley Parish Council