DCS: Local Heritage Event:
Spring in Monk's Wood
Saturday 20th November 2010 Return to Alumni Events
As befits the tradition of evolved Darwinian events, we met on Saturday 16th April at a public House, the White Hart at at Alconbury Weston, to fortify ourselves with food and drink before we set out on our woodland adventure. The Darwin College Society has been very lucky in recent years in having nice weather for outdoor events and excellent guides. The spring trip to Monk's Wood, near Alconbury, was no exception as the sun shone and we were shown around by Chris Gardiner who is in charge of several Natural England reserves in the Eastern Region. Monk's Wood is a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest and it is a very ancient wood, probably a remnant of the oak and ash woods which existed over a 1,000 years ago and there is evidence of part of it being cleared in medieval times. It's longevity is demonstrated by entries in the Domesday Book and it's history since has been associated with gifts from a variety of Kings and other royalty. Chris Gardiner has made a study of this history and every now and again he would stop and regale us with Anglo-Saxon names and events associated with it's history in-between showing us the flora and features of the wood.
The wood in spring is bursting with life with insects busy amongst the emergent leaves. Needless to say we saw many bluebells but also lots of primroses and cowslips. Primroses are flowers of the woods and cowslips flowers of meadows but where the two habitats meet like the edge of the broad rides in Monk's Wood, hybrids occur known as the false oxlip, a rare plant that we were shown. We also saw the uncommon wild service tree and much more. The wood was full of bird song and insects and it was one of those restful walks that one always associates with spring when there does not seem to be a care in the world. There was a good attendance for the event, possibly a few too many as Chris had to patiently wait for the last in a long line to catch up on several occasions but we would all like to thank him for his forbearance, for the information he imparted and for the lovely and varied parts of the wood that he took us through as well as giving up his Saturday afternoon to be with us.
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