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Shock over Redwoods restrictions to public access

Created on 02/05/2021 @ 08:11

Local residents were reacting with bewilderment last night after social media claims that one of our favourite walking spots has been restricted to the general public.

A debate was sparked on a local Facebook group following a post asking why the car park to the magnificent 160-year-old Leighton Redwoods was closed off.

Its full name is the The Charles Ackers Redwood Grove, owned by the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) after it was gifted to them in 1957 by Mr Ackers who said it was “in the interest of arboriculture our oldest and finest trees should be left for succeeding generations.”.

We have asked the RFS for clarification, but according to their web site it appears that restrictions have indeed come into play, possibly due to an increase in visitor numbers over the past year as locals headed to the outdoors for their daily exercise.

“The Charles Ackers Redwood Grove and the Naylor Pinetum are private woodland owned by the RFS,” the charity states.

“Access to the site is by prior arrangement to preserve these rare and beautiful trees. Members can contact us to arrange visits. Arrangements can be made to show non-members and special interest groups around, depending on the availability of our warden/volunteers. Public parking is not available. To arrange a visit please contact us.”

It didn’t go down well last night with many claiming to have only discovered this remarkable woodland over the past year of restrictions.

While the car park is closed, there is also confusion over whether people can still access the site on foot with several posting that it is open “to locals”.

One well-informed resident posted: “They are looking to restrict vehicular access with parking for RFS members being given a code and wicket gates being kept either end for walkers. Seems they want to manage it a bit more to protect it, I think.”

According to the RFS, the site was originally part of the Leighton Estate, where the innovative John Naylor established a wide range of plants and animals, many new to Britain. Using recently introduced industrial techniques, he made Leighton one of the foremost estates at the time.

Mr Naylor himself planted what is now called the Old Grove in 1857, only a dozen years after the introduction of coast redwoods to Britain.

Mr Ackers purchased the estate in 1931 and, impressed by the redwoods which were already 74 years old, planted more. He then generously donated the 12ha site, including the Old Grove, mixed woodland and open areas, to the RFS in 1957.

The trees are among the oldest outside the natural range in California, and are claimed by the RFS as “the finest redwoods in Europe”.

As soon as MyWelshpool receives clarification from RFS, we will let you know.


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