It’s good to see you again! What a lovely time we are having recently. We don’t want to spoil the surprise but very soon, you can expect some excellent stories to be published on our blog and we are absolutely thrilled! This month has been a true ball for us and we don’t want it to end! All we can say for now is, we have been to some extraordinary places, met and talked to the hottest names on the national TV and have tons of pictures to prove it. Give us a week or two to write it all and you will not regret coming back.
Thank you for all views and click, we are always grateful for those who stop by and dedicate their spare moments to read what we have to say. We are pleased to know that you liked the first part of Queenswood Park review and today we will continue our journey through this beautiful ancient woodland. As we always say, Herefordshire is a hidden gem, there is so much to see it and almost nobody knows about it! The time has come to change it once and for all.
If you have joined us today, please click on the link below to read the previous article:
Queenswood Park can be enjoyed everyday and every season. Come rain or shine, there is always something interesting to do. If you are keen on jogging, yoga or cross country walking, you have several perfect trails to practice. During our visits, we had a chance to see people preparing for many national and international highly publicized events like London Marathon, Boston Marathon and even the most famous, New York Marathon. In 2012, several Olympians were seen jogging around the arboretum in their last preparations before the Olympic Games. It’s funny that local residents could give us very detailed accounts who trained where but the local press was totally oblivious of it. Maybe it is better that our athletes were left alone and could practice without anybody pestering them for pictures or interviews. Yet, we are sad that another great opportunity for promotion has been lost. Anyway, you should treat this as the highest recommendation – if Queenswood is good enough for an Olympian to train there, it is good enough for anybody. Put your trainers on and off you go for a jog!
Solitary training is great but the park is a splendid place for group activities. We have mentioned picnic stands, family luncheons at the Queenswood Café and dog walking, but what do you say about a biology lesson outside of the classroom? Did you know that the country park is often visited by organized school trips? Believe us the kids are having so much fun playing in the forest, walking around and discovering different animal species and plants and the teachers don’t have to scream to gain their attention. We have met all age groups there: from toddlers, middle schoolers to art students that arrived to paint and take pictures. Watching one school trip was a great learning experience for us as well. A group of kids, about ten or twelve years old, was sitting around two female teachers on the grass, laughing and eating their lunch. The teachers were describing all plants that the kids could see around them. They were answering all type of questions, from ecology, recycling to modern history and gardening. It was a biology lesson but the kids were interested in very wide range of topics. If the teachers didn’t know the name of certain plants or trees, they would take a picture with their cell phones and promised to have the answers ready for the next lessons. Do we have to tell you that the kids were absolutely delighted? Some of them were writing the names down on pieces of paper, some even picked up the wild flowers to dry them as souvenirs. We are sure this is the best way to interest the younger generations in science, biology and learning in general. Of course, the kids were given home work and had to make tree and plants sketches that were later collected by the teachers, but nobody protested or argued! Instead of boring routine, there was a load of laughter, discovering and fun. Parents and school officials should take a closer look what’s locally available. Many institutions are struggling financially during the crisis and school trips and days out are the first ones to be taken out of the budget. It is important to take the kids to London or abroad to show them the world, but we seem to forget that the learning starts at home, or close to home in general. To quote one of our favourite movies – “think locally, do globally”. Hire a bus, convince parents to help during the trip and show the children a local park, museum or a listed building. Chances are the kids have never been there at all! Now, we know it’s not as easy as it seems. Everybody can be a critic. There are health and safety rules to follow, kids are misbehaving and parents don’t want to co-operate. These are very valid points but any obstacle can be overcome. Enthusiasm is contagious and the costs are small when you are discovering what’s closest to you.
Please excuse this prolonged digression, but Queenswood is a terrific learning ground and this is something we feel really strongly about. Let’s hope school directors and head teachers will come across our blog (or any other blog that promotes alternative teaching methods) and maybe they will give it a try. Nothing to loose and everything to gain!
Now, all artistic souls are asked for immediate attention. If you are enjoying nature or macro photography, you will not find a friendlier spot for your hobby. Despite large crowds visiting the country park on Saturdays and Sundays, for the majority of the week, Queenswood is still and you shall not be disturbed. Photographers are arriving usually early in the morning and stay throughout the day. Sometimes, you can see them wandering about even after the nightfall, especially if they are trying to photograph birds or animals. Artists prefer the Autumn Gardens, a real maze of sunshine and colours. Japanese maple trees with bright red leaves, blooming magnolias and cherry trees look like sparkling gems on the green background of trees and grass. It’s a real pleasure to see the painters at work. We have approached several of them and had a nice chat about acrylics, organizing art exhibitions and H-Art Festival. You don’t have to ask for permission to paint or take pictures, admission to the park and car park are free – all you need is a canvas, easel, paints, a sandwich and a bit of inspiration! Rita loves sketching in the summer house, a small wooden structure decorated with faces of nature spirits and deities. It is hidden far away from the main walking routes and offers visitors a great deal of seclusion and privacy. You can listen to music, have a dinner and feel like the Queen of the World
Queenswood has 6 main walking trails that are worth exploring. Each trail has a different difficulty, ranging from basic to the most advanced ones. Usually the routes are going in different directions but some of them can merge into mega-trails that will have you walking for hours.
You should start discovering the park with the Badger Trail. The trail encircles the main attractions and gives you easy access to Lime Avenue, Autumn Gardens, Cottrell’s Folly, Oak Avenue, The Summer Garden, Sovereign Walk and ends at the View Point. The paths are well surfaced and the journey takes about 30 to 45 minutes. The Badger Trail is perfect for small kids, lazy strollers and beginners. After mastering the basics, you can move onto something harder. The Fox Trail is 1, 5 miles long and it will take you 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete it. It has a medium difficulty and when it rains, you can expect a bit of mud under your feet. The trail looks amazing during early spring walks sometime around the beginning of April just as the bluebells are starting to bloom. It is probably our favorite route flowing through the arboretum, beech plantation, the Redwood Grove and into the ViewPoint. The longest and the hardest trail available for walkers is the Deer Trail. It is 2.5 mile long and an hour and 30 minutes are needed to finish it. Before you set out to conquer this trail make sure you are in good physical condition and you have a pair of sturdy boots on. We like this road because you have to give your very best: you climb up and down, jump above ravines and avoid slippery stones. The spectacular views are your reward – Redwood Grove, the wildest part of arboretum, beech plantation and untamed
beauty of north and south parts of Queenswood. The three remaining trails were created to showcase the beauty of the park and give the tourists a chance to enjoy it. They are: Animals of the Forest sculpture trail, Early autumn tree trail and Late autumn tree trail.
Animals of the Forest sculpture trail is probably the biggest attraction of Queenswood Park. 7 wooden sculptures have been cunningly hidden among the trees and your mission is to find them. We have located them all but it felt almost like hunting for Pokemons (gonna catch them all). If you don’t like spoilers, kindly skip our trophy session below:
1. Black bear and a curb from American Pacific Redwood forests (Ursus americanus)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_black_bear
2. Scandinavian pine forest eagle-owl (Bubo bubo)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_eagle-owl
3. Munching hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazel_dormouse
4. Family of European badgers (Meles meles)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_badger
5. European pine martens playing (Martes martes)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_pine_marten
6. Lesser-horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_horseshoe_bat
7. Common buzzard hunting for a dinner (Buteo buteo)
More information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_buzzard
There is another sculpture of black bear located by the entrance to the park.It is another American black bear, but this time he is welcoming all visitors!
All sculptures have been made by local chainsaw sculptors, Steve Elsby and Harry Thomas. Steve is based in Hereford and Harry lives near the Welsh border, at the edge of the Radnor forest. Both artists have more than 20 years of experience and are award winning creators. This year Steve and Harry took part in APF 2014 – A W Jenkinson & UPM Tilhill European Chainsaw Carving Championships. Harry was ranked 6th and Steve finished at 10th position. Congratulations to both of you!
Well dear readers, there’s nothing more we can add! Please visit Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum one day and see it all for yourself. We will leave you with a beautiful photo-session taken in magnolia garden. after all, pictures are worth thousand words!
Have a splendid day!
Rita and Malicia D.