Sunday, 21 September 2008

Apedale Country Park

Apedale comprises over 180 hectares of predominantly established Birch forest and reclaimed Pit-Tip land that is the remnant of an open cast coal mine. It is found to the north east of Newcastle under Lyme in Staffordshire. The old colliery buildings have gone and a new heritage centre has been built at the end of the roadway. This is the newest Staffordshire Country Park, with a small cafe and access to exhibits of our mining heritage for a small charge.
Today we came to walk in the woods. The random distribution and size of the trees, with the occasional fallen or rotting trunk shows that this is a natural forest. Nothing is in straight rows here. The undergrowth is well established and very diverse and the wildlife includes a diverse variety of insects, birds and small mammals. I saw great tits, long tailed tits, robins, finches and a buzzard in the space of 5 minutes.
Typical of birch woodland are the fungi - Piptoporus betulinus, the birch polyphore, which is frequently found in the side of the trunk of growing or stressed trees - and Coriolus versicolor, often referred to as turkey tails, but more scientifically as the many-zoned polyphore.
The end of our walk around this charming forest was heralded by the melodious chirruping of a robin in the trees bordering the car park.

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