On 22nd June 2017, Walk Wood was officially opened by Dame Helen Ghosh in front of a crowd of staff, volunteers, contractors and supporters that have assisted in bringing this project to fruition. Attendees were then invited to take a tour of the woods to see the work that has been done and the sculptures created by Keith Pettit. The newly-appointed Woodland Manager was also in attendance and we look forward to seeing how the woods continue to develop.
Walk Wood at Sheffield Park
Fifteen years of restoration work has come into fruition as Walk Wood, at Sheffield Park and Garden, opens to the public.
This summer the woods are open daily until the end of September. To celebrate this milestone and to help highlight the natural and historic features, local artist Keith Pettit was invited to create a collection of sculptures for display in Walk Wood.
You can now follow the sculpture trail, stepping through portals and across raised walkways to see the pieces which have been inspired by the surroundings and predominately created from natural materials.
A 15 year restoration
The woodland was first purchased in 1982 by the National Trust, on the north-east side of the garden at Sheffield Park in order to provide a windbreak for the garden. In 2002 Park and Garden Manager Andy Jesson, together with his team of staff and volunteers, began a woodland management plan to create better light levels to increase the number and quality of bluebells and encouraging greater biodiversity.
With the help of a generous £20,000 legacy in 2005, we began to uncover the layers and find out about its past. It’s taken 15 years to unearth the secrets of the ancient woodland, including volunteers, archaeologists, nature conservationists, forestry officers and historic curators.
Andy Jesson said: “For me, this is probably the proudest thing I’ve been involved in. As a conservation charity the National Trust wants to offers extraordinary experiences in the outdoors so people can get up close to nature and wildlife, will come to value it, and want to look after it.”
Uncovering the wood's history
It was also discovered that Walk Wood in particular had a great historical significance with remains of planting and paths going back to the original 18th century design for the garden. Many archaeological features from this time are still visible.
Follow the progress of restoring Walk Wood with our timeline, below:
22 Jun 17
12 May 17
Local Sussex artist Keith Pettit was commissioned to create a series of sculptures in Walk Wood. In a short video interview, he discusses his inspiration and the significance of the pieces.
02 May 17
Bringing back bluebells
Bluebells are in full bloom in the woods. See them in this short video where Andy Jesson talks about what Walk Wood means to him.