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News items published May-July 2015


Purple Emperor butterfly - first for Fineshade?

Wednesday 15th  and Friday 17th July


The magnificent male Purple Emperor is one of the most spectacular of UK butterflies and one which butterfly enthusiasts will travel long distances to see. One of the most famous locations for viewing is Fermyn Woods, south of Corby. In recent yeras there have been odd reports from other parts of Rockingham Forest but, as far as we know they have not been recorded in Finehsdae Wood - until today.


This morning Linda Peirce took this picture of a male in her garden at Top Lodge. As Linda admits the picture does not do the colour justice. - the angle with the sun has to be just right in order to reveal the deep purple sheen on the wings. However, the purple can be seen, as can the distinctive yellow ringed eyes on the hind wing.


Update: two days later Niall Rudd was also able to see one on the front of his car at Top Lodge.  The same individual perhaps?  See Niall's picture here.

Small Teasel beside a forest track

Join us for wildflower walk number 2


By popular request, we are pleased to announce another informal walk on Saturday 15th August starting at 11a.m. The first walk  was over-subscribed and highly successful with lots of interesting flowers, butterflies and other wildlife. 


The second walk will again be led by local naturalist Brian Laney.  As well as being the Northants county recorder for reptiles and amphibians, Brian is a most knowledgeable and engaging botanist  - you can see the account of another of his informal walks in Fineshade here. You can also follow Brian on Twitter 


For this walk we will be going off the main tracks and into a different part of the wood. Again numbers will be limited, so if you’d like to meet up with us for what promises to be another interesting and enjoyable morning, please let us know now straight away.  



Recommended walk


Monday 13th July


For a beautiful mid-summer walk it is hard to beat the track that leads north from Top Lodge at the moment. There are young birds callng from trees and prolific butterflies visiting the flower-strewn verges alongside the track.  The way is clearly signposted from the carpark as the Dales Wood Trail and it passes the Tree House and then the Youth Base Camp with its remarkable Scandinavian style shelters. In the next section it's worth looking out for White Admirals, Silver-washed Fritillaries and other butterflies, and it's possible that you will hear, from the trees to the right, the calls of recently fledged young Buzzards.


There are occasional seats along the track and, whether you decide to retrace your tracks or complete the 3-mile circuit, it's a great woodland experience.



It's time for butterflies

Wednesday 1st July


After a slow start  the butterfly season is really getting going now. This morning we were pleased to welcome Martin Izzard, B.E.M, Branch Secretary of Beds. and Northants. Butterfly Conservation for a walk up the long track that runs from the houses and eventually leads to the Assarts.


All along that track there are mature blackthorns (Sloes) and in places mature oaks, sallows and ash - perfect habitat for some of the butterflies that make Rockingham Forest a mecca for butterfly enthusiasts at this time of year. Martin said that given this combination of mature trees with flowering wild privet, bramble and dogrose, one would expect this habitat to be colonised by Purple Emperors, Purple Hairstreaks and even the nationally rare and elusive Black Hairsteak. "If they aren't here now they could be here soon - butterflies move around and they are certainly present not far away." If you are a butterfly enthusiast please come and help us discover what's here.


This morning's list of 12 species included the first Silver-washed Fritillaries of the year - resplendent orange among the grass and brambles of the Assarts. 


Tuesday 7th July.
First White Admiral in a garden at Top Lodge

Thursday 9th.   Another White Admiral near Tree House. Many Silver-washed Fritillaries.

Wednesday 15th. A male Purple Emperor - believed to be the first record in Fineshade. 
Friday 17th.  Another record of male Purple Emperor - perhaps the same individual?

Saturday 1st August. White-letter Hairstreak in Buxton wood area. Another White Admiral



"The Woodland Trust’s working relationship with Forest Holidays recognised their aims to create holiday sites within appropriate forest environments. However, as our wider programme of woodland advocacy and protection continues to expand we must ensure our role as independent advocate, advisor and campaigner for our most valued woodlands remains clear. Therefore, we have decided not to renew sponsorship arrangements with Forest Holidays.


"As a major shareholder in FH, and as the managers of these publically owned woodlands, we expect the Forestry Commission to take the lead role in ensuring an appropriate balance between the social, environmental and economic benefits they provide for society."

Woodland Trust withdraws from sponsorship arrangement with Forest Holidays

Thursday 4th June


We have been asked by the Woodland Trust to update this website because of the charity's recent decision not to renew sponsorship arrangements with Forest Holidays.  The Trust has issued this statement:



Woodland Trust

We have today edited the page about Fineshade's Ancient Woodland in order to make it clear that the charity's intervention was extremely important in the re-drawing of the AW boundary in Fineshade.  Please see below for more details and comment.

Congestion at the junction in 2014

Another serious accident

Sunday 31 May


Everyone who visits Fineshade is aware of the dangerous junction where the single track road meets the A43.


We are sorry to report that on Thursday afternoon 28th May, yet another serious accident occurred at the junction. Two vehicles were involved and all three emergency services attended, including the air ambulance. The A43 was obstructed in both directions for about 2 hours.


All regular users know how dangerous this junction is, particularly at times of peak usage. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to those who were involved last Thursday.


Could this be a Gruffalo?

Monday 25 May


Last year many people reported seeing a Gruffalo in Fineshade and it could be that it is still alive and well, as this blurred image suggests. During a detailed search of the wood today this fleeting glimpse of a large creature was recorded in the same area as last year’s sightings occurred.


However, some people still say “there is no such thing as a Gruffalo”, despite all the evidence to the contrary. 


Did you see the Gruffalo here last year? If so, can you confirm that what this photo shows is indeed a Gruffalo? Is it male or is it female? Is it friendly or a threat to wildlife in general? Can you help track it down? Please send us details of any sightings from this year.


The Friends on Facebook and Twitter

Saturday 23 May 


It’s been a good week for Friends of Fineshade on social media. Our Twitter account, @FoFineshade has been running since the start of the month and the number of Followers and Favorites went up quite well, but Facebook went from 3 to 123 likes in the week.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who has spread the news about this website etc.
Please keep liking, following, commenting and encouraging.


We were particularly grateful for Sue Benjamin’s Facebook post:


Find the FB page -- Friends of Fineshade -- lovely pics and text about what you can find there. Give them a LIKE and keep in touch with this great band of residents who are battling to preserve these ancient and lovely woods for us all.

Slow worm in the garden. Photo: Lynda Peirce
Grasshopper Warbler

Bird news

Updated Tuesday 19th May


Most of our summer migrants have now arrived, including Chiffcaffs, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps in larger numbers than usual and Whitethroats. Still causing particular delight are the Grasshopper Warblers (picture left). These tiny "little brown jobs" are difficult to see, but their reeling song announces their return from Africa at this time of year. You can read more about them on the birds page.


On Thursday 23 April, St George's day as usual, the first male Cuckoo arrived and on Monday 11th May a female was heard as well - a quite different bubbling call.


Red Kites have settled down on territories now and Buzzards still circle high above the wood.
Woodcock are making their roding flights at twilight and, rather special, on 9th May a brief churring song indicated the return of a Nightjar.


Please do let us know if you encounter any other interesting birds in Fineshade


Helen Harrison (in red) meeting residents

Support from our new East Northants councillor

Monday 11 May


Recently we were very pleased to welcome Helen Harrison, our new District Councillor to Fineshade. Helen came to discuss the community’s concerns about the recent planning applications, including the now-withdrawn proposal for a campsite at Top Lodge .  


We were delighted that Helen, who was bought up in Laxton and now lives in Harringworth, shares the views of all the villages in the district that Fineshade is already at carrying capacity and cannot sustain increased visitor numbers.  


Helen said that as our representative she will be doing all she can to prevent further exploitation of this natural resource.  Now that the General Election is over she says she will have more time to go out walking, and looking at this website has made her hanker for a good stroll in Fineshade! 

Position of proposed toilet block

Withdrawal of latest  planning application

9 May 2015


In March the field in front of Top Lodge was threatened again by development. Last year a proposal for "glamping pods" on the field was rejected by East Northants Council (ENC), but a very similar application for change of use to a camping site was submitted this spring. A toilet block with laundry was proposed right in front of the visitor centre, pretty much central in the photo on the left.


The planning application appeared on the ENC website and 38 public comments were submitted - all of them objections. 11 statutory consultees submitted comments which were objections or raised concerns.


The link below gives more details of the planning application.

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