Wood­land that was as na­ture in­tended it to be

Macclesfield Express - - WHAT’S ON -

JOHN HAN­D­LEY WALK LEADER

EAST Cheshire ram­blers were priv­i­leged re­cently to see a tra­di­tional, nat­u­ral wood­land in all its spring glory and re­ceive an ex­pert ac­count of its flora and fauna from walk leader John Han­d­ley, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of Plan­ning and En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment at Manch­ester Univer­sity and a long term mem­ber of East Cheshire Ram­blers and Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

Cot­ter­ill Clough, near Manch­ester Air­port, was ac­quired by pub­lic sub­scrip­tion to cel­e­brate the mem­ory of TA Cow­ard, a great Cheshire nat­u­ral­ist and writer.

In his book, Life of Way­side and Wood­land, he de­scribed May as: ‘the height of spring, the acme of the ob­server’s de­sire’ and re­marked some­what wist­fully that there is only one month of May each year.

In­deed, the Cheshire beauty spot was at its best with wild cherry blos­som in the tree canopy, sheets of scented blue­bells be­low and a riot of wild gar­lic and golden sax­ifrage above on the lower slopes of a bur­bling stream.

Ac­cess to the na­ture re­serve, which is man­aged by Cheshire Wildlife Trust, is care­fully con­trolled to pre­serve its spe­cial qual­i­ties and the 26 ram­blers present were for­tu­nate to get their own ex­clu­sive view­ing at such a spe­cial time of year.

Pro­fes­sor Han­d­ley said: “Cot­ter­ill Clough was the high­light of the walk which had many other points of in­ter­est, tak­ing in the ecol­ogy of the Na­tional Trust wood­lands at Styal, the trans­for­ma­tion of the River Bollin into a nav­i­ga­ble water­way for mi­gra­tory trout and salmon and the re­mark­able cre­ative con­ser­va­tion around Manch­ester Air­port’s Run­way 2, where com­pen­satory wood­lands, grass­lands and wet­lands are now re­ally com­ing into their own.

“There was much to en­joy and cel­e­brate here be­sides the month it­self.”

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the group’s sum­mer pro­gramme of walks, coach out­ings and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties go to: ram­blerseastcheshire. org.uk.

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