Hilary Payne, parent in the local Elfins group of the Southwark Woodcraft Folk, which meets in St. Faith’s Church Hall on Red Post Hill, reports on the group’s recent visit to Green Dale.
On a beautiful mild evening in September we took the Elfins group on a nature walk to Greendale. There were sixteen children aged between 6 and 10, and nine parents came along too. Each child took a ‘journey stick’ with them – a stick with some wool to tie on things that they found on the way, such as leaves, berries etc that they found lying on the ground. We’d told them beforehand about some of the wildlife that has been seen in the area, including bats, hedgehogs and frogs.
The whole walk was the journey, so we didn’t rush but walked quite slowly from St Faith’s, along Nairne Grove and up Greendale to cross into Greendale Fields.
Once into the fields people went at their own pace, looking for things and running around exploring. We headed up to the left and had our drink and snacks on one of the tennis courts while people ran off to explore.
I asked a couple of the children while we were there what they thought about it; one said ‘it’s lovely’ and another ‘it’s amazing’. Asked about it later, they reported that they’d enjoyed making the sticks, running about on the abandoned tennis court, finding a big white flower with a bee in it, and between them they reported that they’d seen hedgehogs, a fox cub, a bat and an owl as well as a bat cave!
For most of the parents, it was their first time in Greendale Fields too, and they were very positive about it, loving the big skies and the quietness, and marvelling that this was what was behind Sainsburys!
I think it’s a great place to do nature discovery walks. Other ideas might be a tree themed walk, taking pictures of various leaves to get people to spot them; this could be combined with Dog Kennel Hill Wood, which on this occasion was more than we could squeeze into the time we had. I’d also made a little map and that could be another activity getting them to follow the map themselves to find different things.
We’d like to do it again, probably in the spring / summer as it’s now dark during the time when the group meets. Another idea could possibly be borrowing a couple of bat detectors and doing our own bat walk during the group time, if this were a possibility.