Brookings Down Wood and Eastern Hill Wood are both in Noss Mayo. They are owned by The Woodland Trust to protect them in perpetuity but are leased to the RYDA which manages both of them.
Brookings Down Wood is a 16-acre (6.5 hectare) wood which was bought by The Woodlands Trust in 2000 with money raised locally and donated to the Trust and then leased back to the RYDA at a peppercorn rent.
It is located between Hannaford Road and Middlecombe Lane.
The Wood is mainly broad-leaf with a few larch and Monterey pine. Hazel, hawthorn, yew, holly and elder provide the understorey. English bluebells dominate a large area of the Wood, with a profusion of campion, foxglove, violets and corydalis.
There are 3 entrances to the Wood, all open to walkers. The main entrance is at the end of the car park adjacent to the tennis courts, and is marked with an information board which shows the main paths and other information. This entrance leads to some quite steep wooden steps and so is not accessible to wheelchair users.
At the time of writing (February 2018), the steps are currently under reconstruction and should eventually take the form of a level path above the tennis courts which will then cut through the bank and join an existing woodland path. It will remain unsuitable for wheelchair access. There are other entrances from Hannaford Road and Middlecombe Lane but only the latter is accessible to wheelchair users in dry weather and through a 1 metre wide gate.
Brookings Down Wood
Eastern Hill Wood
Mieczyslaw Borek at the Medical Rehabilitation Unit RAF Collaton Cross
There is a fascinating tale behind how the Wood came to the RYDA.
Mieczyslaw Borek was born in Poland in 1923. At the age of just 17 as Hitler was invading his homeland he came to Britain to seek refuge. Soon after, he joined 304(Polish) Squadron RAF and flew missions over Germany in a Wellington bomber. He survived the war and made the transition to Transport Command where his new job was to fly food and medical supplies to Greece and Yugoslavia. Whilst doing this he was in an accident on a routine training flight. On 18th January 1946 the Vickers Warwick in which he was flying caught fire on landing at RAF Chedburgh, Suffolk.
The pilot, W/O Bojarczuk, was killed but W/O Borek and W/O Zurek survived. Mieczyslaw was pulled from the burning aircraft with his clothes on fire. He suffered a badly broken right leg and the tendons in his right ankle were severed. He was sent to the convalescent unit at RAF Collaton Cross and here he met Bessie a young girl 3 years his junior who had lived all her life in Noss. Soon they were married and moved to the Bristol area to start a family - but not before Mieczyslaw came to the attention of Mr Wakeham, a local farmer. On hearing the young airman's story he promptly gave him Eastern Hill Wood for "coming here and fighting for Britain".
During their lives the couple and their growing family paid frequent visits to Noss, staying in the caravan in the woods. It was shortly before his death in 2012 that Mieczyslaw decided that he wanted to leave everything to the community, along with a sum of money to help with its restoration. Today we are truly grateful for all this young airman did for his adopted community and country.
Eastern Hill Wood is adjacent to Brookings Down Wood between Middlecombe Lane and Stoke Road and is approximately 1 hectare in size. It was acquired by The Woodland Trust in 2017 and added to the existing lease for Brookings Down Wood.
The Wood is on a very steep slope and needs a great deal of work to clear the extensive, unwanted vegetation, to open up and establish the footpaths and to make it much more accessible to the public.
The Wood is mainly broad-leaf, with oak, sycamore, ash and beech and an understorey of hazel, hawthorn, sloe, holly and privet.
Woodland Management. Both Woods are managed by a volunteer Management Committee which maintains them for the benefit of the local community. The bulk of the work - clearing, planting and nurturing new trees, putting up bird and bat boxes, strimming the paths, clearing the brambles etc - is done by a group of volunteers.
The Management Committee is always on the lookout for new (and younger, fitter!) volunteers and so if you are prepared to do your bit, you should contact Bob Styring on 01752 873291 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Friends of Brookings Down Wood. If you would like to support the Woods and become a Friend of Brookings Down Wood and receive the Newsletter which updates you on the Woodlands activities, please complete the form at Friends of Brooking Down Wood.