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We were the winning project out of the short-list of three for a grant from Affinity Water. Thank you to everyone who voted and helped get this project funded, and thanks to Affinity too, of course.

We want to make Kings Field more like Noakes Grove - visitor and child friendly:

  • Public access, with some permissive paths, welcoming signs and guide leaflets at the gate
  • The stream through the middle of the reserve is one of its most important features. We plan to create a footbridge over it for visitors and our sheep to use.
  • The stream banks are deep-sided so it is difficult to get near the stream or even see it. We plan to dig out part of the bank to make a wider stream valley with more gently sloping banks. The digging work will also create a pool beside the stream but not create a dam hindering water flow and passage by fish.
  • We want to create a "Forest school" area where organised groups of children can enjoy the reserve and learn about its wildlife

And thanks to everyone who voted for us in Waitrose in September...

We now have a financial contribution towards the regular tree inspection we need (to ensure the trees on the reserve are not endangering any visitors) and towards any remdial tree surgery that might need to be done.

Funding of ongoing costs (rather than projects) is always hard to find, so this is very welcome.

Next Autumn Work Party: Sunday 20 October Sunday 15th September

We will be concentrating on widening the rides through the scrub land and dealing with the fallen timber, converting it into saleable logs or stacking it as wildlife habitat. Do come along and join us - everyone is welcome from 10 till 4ish. Future work parties will run on 17 November and 8 December (the Christmas do, which will include musical entertainment!).


AGM News - moths, bats and barbecue

Our first outdoor AGM was voted a success. The AGM itself was over in record time: accounts showing we were not facing immediate bankrupcy were accepted, a short account of what we had been doing during the last year was followed by the re-election of all eight directors.

Then the barbecue was enjoyed by all, the moths in the moth-trap admired and released and the three different bat-detectors all agreed that the bats flying near the pond were common pipistrelles.

It was a good night for hawkmoths: the privet hawk (left) is the biggest moth resident in Britain and the elephant hawk (right) one of the most attractive.

Photographs taken at the AGM by Sylvie Gummery

Noakes Grove Goes Green

Thanks to John Bagley we now have electricity in the stable block at Noakes Grove. There are two solar panels on the sunny side of the roof. During daylight these charge two large car batteries inside the building. The12-volt current from the batteries is used (day and night) to power the 6000 volt pulses in the electric fence (so we won't need to carry car batteries home to recharge them) and is also used to create 240 volt mains electricity exactly the same as that you buy expensively to power your home. There are now electric LED tubular lights in the stable block and power points enabling us to run moth traps and power-tools without using a petrol generator. Thanks to John's expert installation work, all voluntary, the whole set-up cost only a couple of hundred pounds for equipment and should provide free electricity for many years.


Let there be light


Our sheep have lots of people to thank for the over 100 bales of hay now stacked ready for their winter feed.

The hay came from a Radwinter field owned by Suzanne & Robert Walker who donated the hay to us. The hay was cut, baled at delivered by Keith Glover who also helped Emma Horton & David Corke stack it.

The pallets which we used to keep the hay clear of the ground (and thus dry and fresh) were donated by Tony Sandles Glass of Elder St, Wimbish




Butterfly News

Marbled Whites are obviously enjoying the hot weather. The first were seen at Noakes Grove a couple of years ago and this year good numbers of them are flying, both there and at Kings Field as well as in many other local wildlife sites with long grass.

Small Coppers are widespread in Essex but are rarely seen in the Walden area. The first for Noakes Grove was seen a couple of weeks ago and we are hopeful that it may foreshadow the establishment of a breeding colony. The caterpillars' only food plants are Sorrel (Sheep's Sorrel or Common Sorrel). If you see either plant growing at Noakes Grove please let us know where.

Small Copper

We now have 25 species of butterfly recorded from Noakes Grove (see the full list) which is an excellent total for this area. Purple Emperors and White Admirals have recolonised some of the larger nearby woods and may soon be added to our list (if they are prepared to make use of a small wood). The other species that are likely to turn-up are the Clouded Yellow: (a migrant butterly that arrives in large numbers every few summers but is usually very rare) and the White-letter Hairstreak, which is known from a local wood and whose caterpillar feeds on elm trees and their regrowth. They are very difficult to spot.

While it is very encouraging that several butterflies once extinct in our area have returned, there are still 18 species, which once lived near Walden (some only until Victorian times), now lost to our area. How many can we entice back?

Extinct in Britain
Extinct in Essex
A few colonies in distant parts of Essex
Large Tortoiseshell Silver-spotted skipper Duke of Burgundy Grizzled Skipper
  Dingy Skipper Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Green Hairstreak
  Wood White Pearl-bordered Fritillary Wall
  Brown Hairstreak High Brown Fritillary  
  Chalk-hill Blue Dark Green Fritillary  
  Adonis Blue Marsh Fritillary  
  Small Blue Grayling  


Friends of Walden Countryside

Our Friends help in many ways: by helping on work-parties, sheep-care or with administrative tasks and/or by making donations to help pay for our work. To become a friend we ask you to make a donation at least once a year (you choose how much - most people give £5-£10). To become a friend (or give another donation) just visit : Friends of Walden Countryside. To find out more about getting directly involved with our work just email


Copyright 2019
Organic Countryside Community Interest Company
Trading as Walden Countryside
Company number 06794848 - registered in England
VAT No: 947 3003 317

Updated 16 July 2019