As part of the English Heritage Open Days weekend activities, the Chiltern Woodlands Special Trees & Woods project team suggested a walk round Happy Valley and the WW1 training trenches in Pullingshill wood to be led by AIM.
So, on Sunday 13th September Gerry Platten and I waited at the entrance to Happy Valley. 5 interested people arrived, including a trainee arborist (specialist in trees) from Sandhurst and a couple from near Twyford who were interested in WW1 history and local flora and fauna.
As we travelled, we explained the work which AIM has done in Happy Valley with its alleged history of a Roman vineyard, possible crop marks and other interesting finds. On entering the wooded area some quite old trees were seen, including an infected chestnut tree, a magnificent old oak tree and a splendidly tall cherry tree.
Several lines of trees beside the footpath suggest that this may have be ancient track and part of a boundary feature between farmland, a common or woodland. (The diameter of the oak tree was measured and its age estimated at about 160 years. The calculation is: – circumference of tree measured about 2m above ground in inches is its age in years, roughly!). Other boundary banks and possible sawpits were noticed.
We travelled though the trenches demonstrating all the various features and discussing the events surrounding their construction. Travelling back along the path to Bovingdon Green, where the soldiers’ camp was built, we noticed several very old concrete fence posts showing where the boundary of the camp could have been.
Several circular earthworks in Davenport Wood were seen – these may be stock enclosures relating to the original Marlow Common.
It was a fascinating day even though I cannot remember the number of different species which we saw! Thanks to all for making it well worthwhile.