December 2020 Newsletter  
Gifts - Covid Rules RRam, ,Wild Kids ... Footpaths ... Red Deer. Work Party

Our Christmas Produce - buy now while stocks last!

A Bird Box for your kids to build

only six left - £12.95 each (delivered)

Sorry - all sold now

made box Robin box

Give your friends a
Christmas card and a year as Friends of Walden Countryside.

£5 each delivered (much cheaper if more ordered)

Details and online orders


These boxes are used mainly by Great Tits, Blue Tits and sometimes Sparrows

The boxes were made as a contribution to our work by local bespoke furniture specialists Boatman Furniture.

Buy 5 for £20 or 10 for £35


Gaul due this Sunday

Gaul is the father of the seven lambs born this spring. He will start this year's visit on Sunday when he will be joining the eight ewes (two of whom are hoggets - i.e. virgins). We hope Gaul will sire good lambs from all of his eight wives.

All rams can be a bit boisterous and we recommend that visitors do not try to enter the field where he and his harem are grazing.

The photo shows the late Asterix, the predecessor of Gaul and father of some of our present flock..


Gifts - Covid Rules RRam, ,Wild Kids ... Footpaths ... Red Deer. Work Party

Walden Countryside Pandemic Rules

Pandemic rules in Tier 2 - from December 2nd 2020 - these rules (for outdoor encounters) also apply during the Christmas bubbling truce.

You can still visit Noakes Grove, Kings Field or Ellis Green whenever you like, so long as it's:

  • Just you and other members of your household.
  • A mix of households as long as the total in the group is six or less. Keep as far as possible from other visiting groups.
  • Our volunteers who take turns to visit our sheep, or help manage Noakes Grove at work parties,They count as part-time unpaid agricultural workers and are allowed to work but must take all possible precautions.
  • Our weekly "Wild Child Club" for home-educated youngsters is now classified as an "out of school setting educational club" which means the the Club can continue if we follow the sensible rules set by the Government.

Treasure hunters

Is yours a home-schooled wild-child?

Since most children went back to school at the start of September, our Wild Child Friday Club has consisted of five home-educated boys. They didn't have to be boys but they did have to be home-educated, since these are the kids most in need of some social interaction with others of the same age. Youngsters at school are in bubbles with their classmates and it is probably best not to mix them up with others from different schools or bubbles.

Take a look at our "Wild-Child" web-page (https://walden-countryside.co.uk/wild-child.html) and see what we get up to. We are planning to start a Tuesday version of the club for about five 6-9 year olds. If you might like a place for your youngster then email (info@walden-countryside.co.uk). There is no fixed charge for attending the club but parents usually choose to make donations to help us run our nature reserves. We usually meet at Noakes Grove but some sessions are at our other reserves.

New schoolroom

Jan Wrigley has obtained a £500 grant from an Educational Services charity to enable us to convert half the stable block into a schoolroom. This will be much appreciated by all the children's groups that meet at Noakes Grove - especially on rainy days.

Walden Countryside's Footpaths

The 23 parishes that make-up the Walden Countryside area are estimated to have about 1200 paths totalling over 900 km (based on the assumption that the average parish has the same density of paths per sq km as does Wimbish which we have surveyed).

These paths are by far the most important way of enjoying the countryside that is available to everyone. To take advantage of these paths you need a decent map and for the paths to be adequately signed and protected from illegal blocking and ploughing out by landowners. This is a duty of Essex County Council but they only carry it out if lack of signs or obstructions to use are reported to them.

Wimbish, one of the larger parishes in the Walden Countryside area, has about 80 footpaths totalling over 60 km of footpaths, bridleways and green-lane byways. Our part of our new footpath map (right) shows a detailed map we made for free using the ECC interactive map site. Our new webpage (https://walden-countryside.co.uk/footpaths.html) shows you how to do exactly the same and make a map of your parish or favourite bit of countryside. It also links you to the ECC web-page where you can report any problems you encounter when trying to walk a footpath. Please give it a try and tell us what you think.

We want you to enjoy footpath walking in your favourite area and, as you do so, to note, report any problems you encounter and tell us about any interesting wildlife you see (info@walden-countryside.co.uk)

The photos show a Wimbish path that has been a public right of way since the Romans created the road. Going north it is a perfect path, going south ploughed out and impassable. The Wild Child group tried to follow this path recently.

Wimbish paths
Going north - good Going south - impossible
Gifts - Covid Rules RRam, ,Wild Kids ... Footpaths ... Red Deer. Work Party

Next Work Party

Noakes Grove: Sunday December 13th from 10am to 3.00pm (come and go any time)

Please bring your own food and drink and, if possible, your own garden gloves and tools. We have sanitising sprays which should be used if you need to use our stock of shared gloves and tools.

We will continue with the coppicing of the block of scrub we started on in November.

Right: an end of work bonfire

work party bonfire
Red Deer Bendysh

Have our biggest land mammals been hunted to extinction in Essex?

Red deer lived wild in Essex (Epping Forest) until the 1830s. By 1970 a small population had recolonised Essex naturally, from Suffolk. They lived mainly in the Forestry Commission woods in Radwinter and Hempstead. This photo shows a red deer hind at Bendysh Wood in the 1980s. They bred in our area for decades but have now declined to the point where the Essex Field Club's experts think the species is once more extinct in Essex.

If they are extinct it will be because the hunters, who are encouraged by the Forestry Commission and the Essex Wildlife Trust to shoot the excessive numbers of introduced fallow deer and muntjac, have killed all the native red deer. The Forestry Commission have been asked to tell us their policy regarding Essex red deer conservation but have yet to reply.


To identify deer, note their size and look closely at the rear end pattern as they run away.
The females don't have antlers but are otherwise similar to males.
The males don't have antlers for part of the year.

If anyone spots a red deer in the Walden Countryside area please report it to info@walden-countryside.co.uk.

Gifts - Covid Rules RRam, ,Wild Kids ... Footpaths ... Red Deer. Work Party




Copyright 2020
Organic Countryside Community Interest Company
Trading as Walden Countryside
Company number 06794848 - registered in England
VAT No: 947 3003 317

Updated 3 December 2020