What do residents like about our Country Parks?
Date published: 7th December 2021
This year, we surveyed visitors to our award-winning Green Flag sites at Holt Country Park, Pretty Corner Woods and Sadler’s Wood, to ask them what brings them to the woodlands and what more would they want to see from their favourite natural spots.
All three sites are carefully managed by our Countryside team and see thousands of visitors a year. From biodiversity and ecology, to parking provision everything is considered for the futures of the parks.
So, why do people come to our country parks?
Growing numbers of psychologists and ecologists are studying the positive effects of nature on mental health, physical health and well-being – doctors in Scotland have even prescribed nature based activities as a passive way to soothe stress and the impacts of mental health conditions.
In Holt Country Park, most visitors indicated that enjoying nature and the tranquility/wellbeing was their primary reason for visiting. The important site qualities for visitors were the trees, wildflowers, birds, wildlife and the welcoming safe environment.
Sadler’s Wood proved popular with parents who use the site to let their children explore nature. Among the suggestions for the woodland in North Walsham were requests for more features like benches and sculptures, such as the ones introduced earlier this year and more volunteer opportunities to help maintain the area.
Pretty Corner Woods was the most popular site amongst dog walkers (and walkers without dogs) who rated it highly. Feedback showed that to improve the facility for walkers, the Council could consider improving way-marking and orientation – a venture already underway by the Countryside team who have introduced new site maps and installed two new waymarked trails, with plans for improved interpretation this autumn.
The rangers have also been busy encouraging the growth of wildflowers and biodiversity, building local wildlife.
There are a lot of planned improvements underway in the parks.
Holt Country Park
Work is underway on a revamped sensory area to replace the old space, which has been in place for many years. The Rangers team, with some support from the Muddy Boots volunteer group, will carry out the rejuvenation work, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
Some notable changes include transforming the area where the viewing tower was located, into a reptile and amphibian corner, which will provide information about those which call Holt Country Park home.
Pretty Corner Woods
Along with more interpretation on site and the two new planned waymarked trails, we will be seeking to install more artwork for visitors to enjoy, as well as creating an education area for use by schools and for our events.
Discussions are ongoing regarding the future of the boardwalk, a much-loved feature of the community. The boardwalk was installed years ago following a large grant received by the team, but in recent years, sections of the boardwalk have required frequent health and safety work and many segments are prone to breaking or damage from the elements. The Council will assess options for the boardwalk that balances public safety, ease of access and longevity.
At Sadler’s Wood we will be looking to further improve the safety of the site by installing barriers and other similar measures aimed at deterring the use of motor bikes and mountain bikes around the site, which we know has been of concern to local residents. The site will also benefit from the introduction of better interpretation, some artwork and an educational area.
Holt Country Park, like Pretty Corner Woods and Sadler’s Wood offer the public a variety of events where they can come and volunteer to help maintain the parks spend their day learning about the local wildlife or ecology, or bring their families for nature based fun.
For those in search of regular events and activities there are the team’s Muddy Boots volunteer groups for adults, which support the rangers with a variety of practical management tasks across all three sites.
For younger visitors, you may like Wild by Nature, a wonderful Forest School, established at Holt Country Park in late 2020.
For families there is a whole host of different activities and events taking place in school holidays, from shelter building to orienteering, mini-beast hunting to Halloween trails or even making woodcraft animals and archery, there is always something fun to attend – often with an educational focus.
This summer we also introduced regular ‘self-led’ trails, allowing visitors the freedom to come and go as they please over the course of a week, and this proved very popular.
Visit Holt Country Park’s Facebook page for all upcoming events!
It costs just £2 to park in the countryside parks all day. If you are a regular visitor, you can purchase a season ticket To purchase a season ticket, please visit Home | Car Park Season Ticket (north-norfolk.gov.uk)