G Glades on bank top

Topography:
A ridge with ground falling away both sides more steeply to the South but flattening into an open grassed area.

Aspect:
Mixed open grassy area with low trees and shrubs on North facing slope, East/West running ridge with more heavily wooded steeper South facing slope flattening out into open grassy area.

General Description:
Opening out from the South end of the Silverlink bridge, it encompasses the main way in to the wood from the North side. The smaller North facing slope up to the ridge is criss-crossed by several paths, some quite slippery, leading both East and West eventually out of the woods both ends, and also down the South slope of the ridge to enter into the main woodland. One main site in the lightly wooded area at the edge of the grassed clearing is used by presumably young people for drinking parties as evidenced by the large numbers of lager cans and bottles always present. There is also evidence of fires and lately, trees damaged by saws to provide more fuel for the fires. The open areas are significantly reduced in high summer by massed growth of willow herb, Himalayan balsam and umbellifers. At the Eastern edge of the glades, the wood becomes an area of undergrowth , difficult to penetrate, with many brambles and low trees. There is no clear path into the wood from Rabbit banks except right at the top where it opens onto the common land above Rabbit banks, but it is possible to enter at various places and there is one area widely used for drinking parties with again extensive evidence of fires and burnt out trailers and supermarket trolleys.

Features:
The flattened grassed area is the main recreational area in the middle of the wood with an open and pleasant aspect. The North edge of the Glades forms the continuation of the main footpath up from the river bank to the silverlink bridge and provides an alternative pedestrian route from the “Elvet” side of the city to Gilesgate which does not involve any roads.

There is evidence of ridge and furrow in the open grassed areas.

Soil:
Not ascertained

Grasses:
present – unidentified

Ferns:
present – unidentified

Mosses:
present – unidentified

Lichens:
present – unidentified

Fungi:
Not ascertained

Trees and Shrubs
•Oak (Quercus robur)
•Beech (Fagus sylvactica)
•Silver birch (Betula pendula)
•Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)
•Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
•Elder (Sambucus nigra)
•Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
•Yew (Taxus baccata)
•Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
•Ivy (Hedera helix)
•Bramble (Rubus fruticosus)
•Field maple (Acer campestra)
•Larch (Larix deciduas)
•Gorse (Ulex europaeus)
•Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)
•Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)

Plants
•Bluebell (Endymion non-scriptus)
•Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)
•Greater stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)
•Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
•Red campion (Silene dioica)
•Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
•Broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius)
•Rosebay willowherb (Chamaerion angustifolium)
•Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)
•Cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)
•Colts-foot (Tussilago farfara)
•Dandelion (Taraxacum officianale)
•Fools parsley (Arthrusa cynapium)
•Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum)
•Great wood-rush (Luzula sylvatica)
•Stickywich/goosegrass (Galium aparine)
•Wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella)
•Chickweed (Stellaria media)
•Marsh horsetail (Equisetum palustre)

Invertibrates

Mammals
•Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Birds
•Blackbird (Turdus merula)
•Blue tit (Parus caerulaeus)
•Chaffinch(Fringilla coelebs)
•Common crow (Corvus corona)
•Great tit (Parus major)
•Green woodpecker (Picus viridus)
•Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
•Long tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
•Magpie (Pica pica)
•Marsh tit (parus palustris)
•Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
•Robin (Erythacus rubecula)
•Wren (T. troglodytes)
•Chiff chaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
•Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

How could the area be improved:
Ongoing litter clearing and prevention program:
•possibly by placing litter bins at known heavy litter areas with rota for emptying to council skip at north end of silverlink bridge
•protected planting of thorn shrub (gorse/rosa rugosa) barrier with narrow opening at top of rabbit banks to prevent access to woods for supermarket trolleys and trailers

Active provision of site for recreational use in area currently used for destructive fires/drinking sessions. BBQ areas, rough seating (logs), selective tree clearance. This is based on premise that enjoyment of the wood should be inclusive and not exclusive, and that as it will be almost impossible to prevent drinking sessions in the wood, better to try to “legalise” and thus have more control than stamp it out altogether.

Improve surface of path leading West from Silverlink bridge so that it can be usable link in all weathers from Gilesgate to the riverbank. The gradient is not steep, and it would mainly require lateral supports for the surface material on the path.

Insert steps on the path leading East from Silverlink bridge. Currently quite difficult to walk along whenever there is any rain, due to mud and slope of path both down and sideways.

Eventually, steps on path down south side of ridge to the open grassed area. This would open up the walk from Silverlink bridge south east to the junction of Rabbit banks and Elm bank and on to either Old Durham or the round walk via the river bank or middle path. Currently that area of the Glades can feel a bit threatening, partly due to the difficulty of access to all but the sure-footed!

Maintenance of this open area by prevention of encroachment of plants, particularly Himalayan Balsam.