The Dragonfly Café is now open in the Visitors' Centre with services provided by Churchill Catering.
CATTLE RETURN TO THE RIVER MEADOWS
The cattle will be returning to the river meadows during the week of the 18th July. Remember they will be rather skittish for the first month or so, until they get used to people and animals.
Please be sure to keep your dogs under control and to pick up after them.
BOARDWALK PROJECT NEARING COMPLETION
Construction work on a broadwalk linking the bridleway to the Dragonfly Pond in the Nature Reserve started in October. When completed it will provide easy access to a viewing platform over the pond. This will make pond dipping easier for visiting schools. It will also enable all our visitors to observe the flora and fauna in and around the secluded Dragonfly Pond. Access to the paths into the Nature Reserve will be restored once the project is complete.
At the present time there is no access to the boardwalk for safety reasons. Once it is safe to use, appropriate notices will be post.
PARK WINS THE GREEN FLAG AWARD FOR THE 8TH YEAR RUNNING
This award is made annually to parks and green spaces nationally that have achieved an outstanding standard in a number of categories. This year the inspection team awarded our park the maximum number of points. They look at every aspect of the park from its welcome to safety, cleanliness, environmental stainability and management.
They also look at community involvement which is where the Friends of the Park score highly. Our volunteers work all year round with the staff to keep the park looking the way it is. They also work behind the scenes to improve the park for visitors and wildlife. Why not join us? Look at the section of this website on Friends to find out more.
For more information about the award click on www.greenflagaward.org.uk
THE BOARDWALK PROJECT
The Friends of HOCP are currently investigating the possibility of improving access to the Dragonfly Pond in the Nature Reserve. This feature was created largely on the initiative of one of the first group of Friends of the Park. Now we want to make it accessible by constructing a boardwalk and viewing platform.
If we can raise the necessary funds, this will provide safe access to the pond area all the year round. Currently access is restricted in winter by flooding. The new facility will enable school parties and disabled visitors to access an interesting area of the park.
The project is backed by Bedford Borough Council but will be funded mainly by the Friends through the activities of our volunteers. We are making good progress in raising the money but we would welcome donations, large or small to enable us to get the structure in place before the winter. If you would like to contribute or you would like to know more about this project, please contact the Chairman of the Friends by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to a Park Ranger.
MINI WOODWORKS EVENT
A very happy customer at the willow weaving display
This highly successful event was run for a second year, celebrating 'things concerning wood'. Despite heavy rain on the first day, plenty of visitors enjoyed a range of displays and stalls. In addition to a number of chainsaw carvers, displays included willow weaving, timber cutting on a mobile sawmill and logging. There were a number of stalls selling wood products and tools. On the Sunday, visitors were entertained by the music of Sax's Cool.
EASTER EGG TRAIL
Once again, Janet Munro created a highly successful Easter Egg Hunt with 75 youngsters enjoying the challenge she set. Despite a grey day that turned into a very wet day, all the children enjoyed themselves especially when presented with their eggs. Many thanks to the Friends for their help in making this a very successful event.
17TH JANUARY 2014
WASSAILING IN HARROLD-ODELL COUNTRY PARK
On a dark, cold but clear night on 'Old Twelwy Night' (January 17th), a group of Friends assembled in the park for a special experience - Wassailing. This is a very ancient custom that is rarely done today. The word 'Wassailing' comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ' waes Gael ' meaning ' good health '. 'Visiting or orchard wassail' refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards, reciting and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year.
Park Ranger Nicky Monsey had suggested the idea at a Friends' Committee meeting and with the help of Janet Munro they organised a good event.
A full account of the evening by Jette Randall can be found in the Fact Sheets on this site. (Photo by Carole Brown)
30TH JULY 2014
7TH GREEN FLAG AWARDED TO HOCP
The Park has won the Green Flag Award for the seventh year in a row. This year the award was rather special in that the judges assessed the Park secretly, without the staff knowing when they were visiting. Thanks are due to the staff and our band of volunteers who maintain the Park to such a high standard.
The Green Flag award is a national standard of excellence that is judged on eight criteria:
- A welcoming place
- Healthy, safe and secure
- Clean and well maintained
- Conservation and heritage
- Community involvement
TRIP ADVISOR AWARD
The international website tripadviser.com has granted HOCP permission to display their logo as a recommended site for visitors. This came after a period in which we received rave reviews from the public. Visit tripadvisor to vote for the Park and to see what others think of it.
6TH MARCH 2014
TREVOR SMITH REMEMBERED
Trevor's family met with Friends of the Park this morning to plant an oak tree in his memory. They also unveiled a oak bench bearing symbols commemorating his time in the Park. A tribute to Trevor by Janet Munro, an HOCP Park Ranger and friend, is located on the website at People in the Park.
28TH JANUARY 2014
TREVOR SMITH MEMORIAL FUND LAUNCHED
The Friends of Harrold-Odell Country Park are making a collection to fund a suitable memorial toTrevor Smith. If you would like to contribute, please make your cheque payable to "The Friends of Harrold-Odell Country Park" and either leave it with the Rangers in the Park Office or post it to The Treasurer, HOCP, Carlton Road, Harrold, MK43 7DS.
22ND NOV 2013
HOCP FISHING SCHOOL PLANNED FOR 2014
Our new Water Bailiff, Paul Oliver, plans to set up an HOCP Fishing School in 2014. In addition to individuals and families, it will be open to children over the age of 6, accompanied by an adult. Further information will be posted on this web site and on the Park notice board.
18TH NOV 2013
ARCHIVE PHOTS OF THE COUNTRY PARK AS A WORKING QUARRY
We have recently acquired a set of 18 b&w photos taken when the Park was a working quarry. As a first step, these have been added to the Gallery on this website. We plan to use them to create an informative feature. If you have any information or photos of 'Harrold Pit' and its impact on the local area, please email them to email@example.com.
30TH SEPT 2013
DAFFODIL TRIBUTE TO TREVOR SMITH
Friends of the Park today planted 3,000 wild daffodil bulbs in memory of Trevor Smith who died in August. The idea came from Trevor who had suggested it to the Friends' Committee earlier in the year. (See People in the Park for a tribute to Trevor by Janet Munro).
29TH AUG 2013
LAST RESPECTS PAID TO TREVOR SMITH
Family and friends paid their last respects to Trevor today. The service held in Bedford Crematorium reflected his love of life, of people and the countryside. A large congregation heard of his rich and varied life and of his love of Harrold-Odell Country Park. Friends exchanged stories of Trevor at a Wake held later in the Park. It was a fitting farewell to our friend.
22ND AUG 2013
RAISING AND LOWERING THE 2013 GREEN FLAG TO HALF-MAST
The raising of the newly awarded Green Flag was tinged with sadness this year as on the 10th August, Trevor Smith, an outstanding Friend of the Park and our Water Bailiff passed away. The flag is flying at half-mast in memory of Trevor. A full obituary will appear on this web site in due course.
7TH MAY 2013
NEW WEBSITE GRABS ATTENTION
The launch the new website certainly attracted plenty of attention. Over 5,600 visitors used the site in April with over 78% of visitors exploring the site in depth. The number of screens viewed during the month went up by 47% over the previous year. New facilities like the Discover the Park, Galleries and Feedback are starting to be used with enthusiasm.
BIRD HIDE - PUBLIC APPEAL (FRIENDS NEWSLETTER 15 - SUMMER 2012)
The Friends of Harrold-Odell Country Park are working with Bedford Borough Council to replace this burnt out shell of the former bird hide with a fine new hide and educational facility. The estimated cost is £15,000 of which £10,000 has already been found from the Borough, The Friends and from donations. We are now looking to make up the balance of £5,000 from further donations.
THE NEW BIRD HIDE (FRIENDS NEWSLETTER 16 - AUTUMN 2012)
The old hide was burnt down through vandalism in the spring and the new hide was opened to the public at the end of September: a remarkable achievement by any standard that was achieved as a result of a funding partnership between Bedford Borough Council, The Friends of HOCP and visitors to the Park. Thank you to all concerned for your generosity and support. Thanks also to Peter Hall for building the hide out of local oak to such a high standard. In time, it will blend in with the landscape and provide visitors with a valuable facility for years to come. The new hide is larger than the original and is better equipped for people with disabilities. The next step is to equip it with display cases that will provide interpretive information for visitors.
CRY "TIMBER!" (FRIENDS' NEWSLETTER 13 - WINTER 2011)
A recent tree survey identified potentially hazardous branches in various locations in the Park. These will be dealt with professionally with some having the weight taken off selected limbs. Others will be pollarded and allowed to re-grow.
For the last two months we have been creating almost 1km of low hurdle fencing (spiling) around the northern shore of the large lake. This is to protect the banks from undercutting by wave action. If allowed to continue, trees would fall into the water more frequently and eventually the damage would begin to eat into the footpath. Once the fence is complete, we will backfill with hardcore, soil and twigs to reinstate the banks.
Our thanks go to the various Friends Volunteers for their assistance in this mammoth task. The raw materials come from the willow coppice plots in the nature reserve. These are harvested on a 10 year rotation. These will re-grow vigorously next year and provide new products in the future. The same applies to the mature willow that has been cut down along the lake edge. This will re-grow and mature timber will be seasoned and sold next year for firewood. All proceeds are returned to the Park.
HEDGE SURVEY (FRIENDS NEWSLETTER 12 - SUMMER 2011)
At the last Friend's Day, we surveyed the hedge along the north side of the Park where the Harrold footpath leaves the line of the shelter belt up to the newest plantings this side of the Odell exit.
Roughly we counted 1062 plants including 17 species of woody plants. 40 lengths of 30 yards were sample and from the plant evidence we estimated that the oldest sections of the hedge were 600 years old and the youngest, 200 years. The average age of the hedge is 365 years and it is made up of 50% Hawthorn and 25% Blackthorn. The whole exercise was enjoyed by everyone and the results came as quite a surprise even to the Rangers.
WINTER PLANTING (FRIENDS NEWSLETTER 9 - WINTER 2011)
Rangers and volunteers have been busy this winter, clearing the Nature Reserve and planting trees. Over 180 native tree saplings have been planted mostly in the heavily coppiced area. This is the first time in 25 years that this area has been planted. The aim is to increase the diversity of plant life and to encourage the regeneration of plant and insect life. We have been hedge laying with a volunteer party from Unilever, who laid several metres and with the Friends laying some more. Stakes and binders were cut from the coppice and were recycled into the new hedges. These will thicken up and be used by nesting passerines (perching birds) in the next few years.
The stormy weather in early February brought down over 15 willow trees. Fortunately no damage was done but a lot of extra work was created.
THE COMMUNITY ORCHARD (FRIENDS NEWSLETTER 8 - SUMMER 2010)
We have now planted all the trees that were earmarked for the orchard. On June 16th we hosted a visit from Daniel Hanbury, High Sheriff of Bedfordshire plus guests. He wanted to come to see for himself the contribution that's been made by the Community Payback Scheme run by the Probation Service. For the past 5 years their work has been invaluable to us, en chancing the Park at many levels, complementing work carried out by the Friends Group and individual volunteers. He also planted a grape vine in the Orchard.