Harpenden blubell wood may reopen next spring

COMPLAINTS about the closure of a popular bluebell wood in Harpenden have prompted its reopening to the public – but not until next spring, and for four weeks only.

Local residents were annoyed about missing their annual stroll through their favourite bluebell setting at Knott Wood, Rothamsted (pictured), as recently-installed gates remained shut to visitors while the flowers were in bloom despite assurances it was likely to reopen.

Stephen James, spokesman for both the Lawes Agricultural Trust which owns the land where the wood is located at Rothamsted, and for Rothamsted Research, the UK’s largest agricultural centre, confirmed Knott Wood would only open during the bluebell flowering season, anticipated to be about four weeks.

He added: “In future years, from spring 2012 on, we will unlock the gate to allow access to Knott Wood throughout the bluebell flowering period. In addition we will establish a new gate near [the] junction of the footpath with the Nickey Line to allow a clear path through the wood so that visitors can enjoy the stunning display that the bluebells provide.

“This gate will be installed later in the year when the farm is less busy. In the meanwhile we are trying to establish hedge lines on both sides of the existing public footpath next to Knott Wood by making new planting and layering established hedge plants – we hope that these will be allowed to thrive.”

Harpenden resident Chris Glover said that newly planted saplings had been broken and a sign saying it was private land had been pulled down in February. At the time he said: “There is clearly some strong feeling out there.”

Another Harpenden man who used to regularly enjoy the woodland, Julian Barker, said it was a great proposal to open it up for those four weeks, as long as they do it: “It’s their land, ultimately, but the specific time is when the bluebells are out, and that is the key period. The proof will be whether they actually do it.”