Well over 150 people enjoyed the lovely Train Wood and Marriott’s Way in the sunshine at the first-ever Autumn Festival, opened in style by local TV presenter Helen McDermott.
Coffee, cake, nature and railway walks, woodland activities, impromptu music, Norwich Cycling Campaign, a nature trail and even a dog café drew the crowds all day.
The festival was organised by the Friends of Train Wood and Marriott’s Way to celebrate the rare urban woodland which they saved from sale by Norfolk County Council, and the progress made by the community to look after it. The group are one of the first in Norfolk to sign up to the Woodland Trust’s national Charter for Trees, Woods and People.
Held on the former engine sheds area near to the start of the Marriott’s Way at Barn Rd roundabout, Norwich, the event was supported by local pub the White Lion, which even put on a special menu for the occasion.
Helen McDermott cut the ribbon on one of the new benches that Friends of Marriott’s Way and Train Wood have installed thanks to funding the group won from Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme – which has also led to the installation of new fishing platforms and vital woodland work.
Former marathon runner Helen said: “It’s great to be down here and see what you are doing as a community group to take action and rescue this place – and I’ve never opened a bench before!”
Chairman Alan Cubbage paid tribute to the many helpers made the festival possible, including Friends of Norwich City Station, Norwich Cycling Campaign, Norwich Fringe Project and the Really Awesome Coffee van.
“People enjoyed two great walk and talks – on nature in the wood from Rose Baulcombe, and on the train heritage from John Batley. It was great to see everyone so involved. So big thanks to those guest speakers – and to the musicians including sax, guitar, drums and even a hurdy gurdy man. It has been a real team effort on the part of all the volunteers who are part of the Friends. But most of all thank you to all those who came along and made the event such fun.”
Three prizes were on offer – thanks to local baker Annie Grange for a big chocolate cake, Go Outdoors for a £25 voucher and Awesome Coffee for a big bag of coffee beans. They were won (respectively) by Jean Bishop, Miriam Barnett and Vicki Lambert.
New members joined Friends of Train Wood and Marriott’s Way on the day, and many surveys were also filled in about what people would like to see done to restore this important piece of city heritage – we’ll share in another post some of the many great ideas.
For now, here’s the words of some young participants. 10 year old Emily Doria said “I like that we are free to ride our bikes and run about with no traffic. More seats and picnic areas would be good!”
Jenny Hopkins said: “It’s a really long path and it’s fun and spooky. Plant more flowers.” while Iona Lincoln liked that “it is a wood and it is near a river,” but would like to see less dog poo.
Luke Chittenden liked that the wood “is big and has lots of funghi and mushrooms” and suggested putting hammocks in the willow trees and a children’s park in the wood.
If you would like to get involved, please contact us.
Thank you to management committee member Stuart McPherson for the photographs.