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The Chase opening – update

August 11, 2011

We are very keen to re-open The Chase as soon as possible, so for local people who will not be accessing the chase by car, the Chase will be open from 11am on 18th August.  Please note that contractors will still be on site and the car park will still be closed until the formal opening date.

We would like to thank you for your patience and co-operation during the prolonged closure.  The opening date is later than we had hoped for and we apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment this may have caused.  The delay has been unavoidable due to a combination of factors including extreme weather, staffing issues, trespassing and vandalism on site.

We are delighted that the project is now reaching completion and look forward to welcoming you back to this beautiful place which is now in good shape for you and future generations to enjoy.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have in relation to this update and the Chase generally.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Fiona Goldsmith permalink
    August 21, 2011 8:35 am

    It has been very disappointing to have such a well used local facility closed for an extended period for seemingly unnecessary works. To now have it re opened with the requirement of dogs being kept on leads, with the exception of a tiny exercise area, is bewildering. It has long been a popular destination for dog walkers and i am at a loss to understand the logic behind this decision.

    I am sure that there will be many local dog walkers (and dogs!) who will be reluctant to use the woods as it will no longer be provide a relaxing, social environment where dogs can enjoy exercise off their leads.

    • August 23, 2011 9:10 pm

Thank you for taking the time to post to this blog. I am sorry to hear that you disapprove of the work that has taken place at the Chase. The site has been closed to the public for one year for habitat improvement works to take place in addition to our efforts to improve the long term access on site.
      The Chase was left to the National Trust as a closed nature reserve with only ten access tickets being given each year to local villagers by the owner Sir Kenneth Swan. The memorandum of wishes which dictates the donors management wishes to us has no mention of maintaining or increasing permissive access; only that site be “preserved and maintained for the encouragement of the birds, flowers, trees and other features of natural interest and beauty which it contains”. Unfortunately, dogs off leads completely oppose this management objective which is why we will now be much more active in enforcing the dogs on lead policy which has always been on site.  I hope that those locals who want an area that they can exercise their dogs off leads have been able to find a suitable alternative in the past year.
      The land is owned by the National Trust, which is a non-governmental organisation and charity, striving to encourage biodiversity and where appropriate allowing permissive access for the public to enjoy. We encourage all those that would like to enjoy the nature conservation value that this site can offer to come and enjoy the relaxing, social environment to which you refer.
      Heather Fisher – Community warden.

  2. Mark permalink
    August 22, 2011 8:50 pm

    Visited the Chase on Sunday 21st August for the first time in 14 months excited to see the new Chase. As a Woolton Hill resident for 16 years I am thoroughly disappointed. It is disgraceful. The feeling I got as I entered the site was that someone had gone mad with a chainsaw and got bored. It is a total mess with trees, logs and debris all over the place. I think I would rather continue using Greenham Common instead – I am really disappointed with the delay and the outcome of the work at the Chase – such a shame.

    • August 25, 2011 4:19 pm

      We closed the site on the 15th August 2010 and so the site has been closed for one year and two days. We hoped to have the project completely finished by now. However, we have opened the site as soon as we could so as not to disappoint those that we had told to expect up to a one year closure.

      We had a large felling contract to thin 30% of the trees in most compartments on site as advertised back in December 2009. The aim being to let more light in and improve the health of the remaining trees as well as improving the diversity of the ground flora and under storey. We have also coppiced one fifth (a coup) of the alder carr to improve the age structure on site and to prolong the life of these trees as they will regrow many stems from one stump. This is an ancient management technique used mainly to increase productivity though the wildlife also benefits, especially the butterflies.

      We have left the brash and some timber on the ground as vital dead wood habitat in line with National Trust policy and guidance from the forestry commission. This will begin to be broken down by the cattle once they free roam the site. It will also provide nesting habitats for mammals and reptiles as well as opportunities for invertebrates and fungi.

      Everybody looks for something different from their walking experience in the countryside. If you are looking for a diverse nature reserve to enjoy wildlife responsibly then the Chase is the place for you. iIf you are looking for something different then you are lucky in that there are many other places to walk in the general area.
      Heather Fisher – Community warden.

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