December 10 2017

Getting stuck in to the brambles.

A cold and frosty morning greeted a good turnout of Friends – activities included path repairs and leaf clearing, litter removal and bramble removal. Two abandoned supermarket trolleys were recovered from the rabbit banks.





Leaves were removed from the path leading down from St Giles Close to the Silverlink bridge.



November 5 2017

November’s work party saw path repairs with the always-useful help of Durham University Conservation volunteers. Leaf-litter was also cleared from paths on a sunny morning, followed by refreshments in the Woodman Inn.

The evening saw our annual bonfire party at Old Durham, once again well attended and presided over by our chairman Tony.



October 1 2017

This morning we completed the task of spreading this summer’s hay from Old Durham in the barren soil at the riverside area known as The Batts.

We hope this former work site for the landslip reinstatement will be a mass of wildflowers come the spring!


September 17 2017

Our September work session entailed the hard but rewarding task of gathering (rather wet) hay from the wildflower meadow and re-distributing it at the former landslip works compound near the riverbank.





Hopefully, seeds from the re-distributed hay will germinate at the new site.


August 27 2017 – Bat Walk

A fine turnout of 19 met for our annual bat walk in the wood, led once again by Chris from the Durham Bat Group.

On a balmy evening we observed 3 species with the aid of bat detectors – Common and Soprano Pipistrelle, and Myotis. The many Noctules and Daubenton’s of last year’s walk were not apparent this time around.


The pipistrelle species treated us to a thrilling display in the middle glade, swooping over our heads in precision flying, all the time tracked by our bat detectors!

Our bat boxes were checked and found to be in good order, but as last year no resident bats were found.

Our thanks again to the Durham Bat Group for making this memorable evening possible.


August 6 2017

August’s work session included the planting of Marsh Woundwort in a bare patch opposite Durham rowing club. Work was also carried out in the old hockey field.

In other news, Northumbrian Water are currently undertaking some more landscaping work following on from their project to improve the drainage of Pelaw Beck earlier in the year.

July 2017 – Riverside path re-opening.

See this page for the story – the riverside path and cycleway are now open, as well as a reinstated ‘middle’ path.

June 4 2017

Balsam pile and woodland workers.

Friends of Pelaw Wood were joined by Durham University Conservation Volunteers in our continuing battle with invasive Himalayan Balsam.

Update: extra sessions were added on June 18th and 25th. Fine progress was made in the hot sun with pulling balsam and thereby encouraging our native ferns and other plants.


May 7 2017 – Dawn Chorus Walk

This year’s dawn chorus was enjoyed by a hardy group of five, led as usual by Milja. Special thanks to Ruth and Campbell who travelled from Gateshead for the 4am start!

Our first bird was an unusually early blackbird at 0405, perhaps stimulated by the lighting at St Giles Close. Robin and Song thrush followed soon after, and the first Wren at 0440. Tawny owls were again evident from alarm calls, and one was observed being chased off by a blackbird.

A particular treat followed at 5am – the sight of many bats flitting around in the trees. We assume these are the same Noctules as observed roosting on the bat walk last summer (see below) as the area of the wood is exactly the same.

Near Old Durham we had a good view of a singing Whitethroat. This bird has been observed here before but is reasonably unusual. More were seen and heard on the rabbit banks. Notable here also were several Garden warblers – this is the first year we have observed them in our area, and two Grey partridges.

The beautiful and haunting song of the Mistle thrush was also heard near Old Durham, again an unusual visitor to the woods.

The complete list of birds heard and / or seen is as follows (27): Blackbird, Robin, Song thrush, Wood pigeon, Herring gull, Pheasant, Great tit, Wren, Tawny owl, Blue tit, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Swallow, Jackdaw, Grey partridge, Magpie, Garden warbler, Jay, Willow warbler, Carrion crow, Bullfinch, Blackcap, Long-tailed tit, Mistle thrush, Goldcrest, Coal tit, Starling. Also, a Peacock at Old Durham!

Notable absentees this year include the Dunnock, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Chaffinch and the still-absent Great spotted woodpecker.

Our regular work party also took place today and included path and step repairs, and strimming of invasive plant species.

April 2 2017

Warm sunshine greeted us for our April work party and the pleasant task of planting cowslips in the old hockey field. Strimming, bramble-clearing and litter removal were also on the agenda – three heavy tyres were removed from the field. Drinks, chips and healthy discussions followed at the Queen’s Head.


March 16 2017

The new head of the culvert, now to the east of Silverlink bridge.

Work on the culverting of Pelaw Beck is 98% complete.

From Northumbrian Water’s project page:

‘The headwall at the start of the watercourse is constructed now and we are in the process of reinstating the woods to [their] former glory. We have started the woodland planting and have noticed how quickly the wild garlic is peeping though…”



March 12 2017


This month instead of a physical task, Friends of Pelaw Wood took a Sunday morning stroll around the woods to consider our action plan for the coming year and beyond. A draft of the plan can be found here.



February 5 2017

Repairing steps is surprisingly good fun!

Another fine morning greeted the Friends for a well-attended stint of step repairs, path clearing and litter picking.

To round off a productive morning, we retired to the Queen’s Head pub for our Annual General Meeting. Thanks are again due to our officers and hard-working members (and other helpers) for another year.


Durham University Conservation Volunteers also helped us out with tree planting this morning.


January 8 2017


The first work session of the new year was blessed with brilliant weather and a fine turn-out. New steps were put in place and damaged ones repaired. After this hard work we retired to the Queen’s Head for refreshment (some things never change)!




January 1 2017


Friends of Pelaw Wood brought in the New Year with a walk around the woods, followed by some well-attended socialising in the Queen’s Head.


December 22 2016


Progress on the work to extend the Pelaw beck culvert. The culvert is extending eastwards after new sections have been laid in position.


December 4 2016


Some fruits of our labour.

The last Sunday meet of the year saw a good turn-out and much activity in the woods. Leaves were cleared from paths and the silverlink bridge, and in the old hockey field undergrowth was strimmed and placed into large piles to rot down for the winter. These have the added bonus of providing habitat for invertebrates and small mammals.



December 2 2016

Latest information from Durham County Council:

Following thorough analysis of the second landslip, a design to stabilise the ground has been completed. Additional soil nailing works were also required to stabilise the steepest parts of the bankside. A mesh will be installed at the surface and vegetation allowed to grow through. Work continues to stabilise the slope using stone and ‘geoweb’ retaining walls, which we have used to keep as much of the existing material in place as possible.

Some trees have had to be removed in consultation with our tree officer where access to carry out the works was not possible. As many of the existing trees have been retained as possible.

Soil nailing works will take around 5 weeks to complete, however there will be further work to stabilise the ground which will take until early 2017 to complete.

We are hoping to reopen the footpath in February 2017.

For regular update and more information on the scheme please visit:

December 1 2016


Northumbrian Water have begun work on extending and improving the culvert / sewer at the bottom of Pelaw beck. See this link for more details.


November 6 2016


Friends of Pelaw Wood again drew on excellent support from the Durham University Conservation Volunteers in clearing brambles from the old hockey field. Despite the cold and damp morning, great success was enjoyed in the fight against the invasive brambles.




After this busy day we were invited to a bonfire party at Old Durham where all enjoyed hot dogs, baked potatoes and grilled marshmallows, washed down with mulled wine. Thanks are due to our Chairman Tony Ewin for once again organising this excellent yearly event.


October 2 2016


A fine early autumn morning found a group of 10 Friends clearing paths and steps in anticipation of the re-opening of the paths blocked by the landslip since 2013.

Drinks and pizza were enjoyed at the Woodman Inn, Gilesgate after our labours.



September 4 2016

DSC03113A small but determined band of Friends met for our September work party in the woods. After a hard but enjoyable couple of hours we had removed many large items of litter including a mattress, corrugated iron, a car tyre, a traffic cone, a shopping trolley and an old window frame.




As usual, we retired later to the Queen’s Head for much-needed liquid refreshment.


Thanks to Durham County Council who have collected the rubbish.


August 14 2016 – Bat Walk

A warm Sunday evening found 10 members of Friends of Pelaw Wood and the Durham Bat Group exploring the wood for evidence of bat activity.


Licensed bat-handler checking a bat box.

Our bat boxes were somewhat disappointing as there were no householders in residence.

The walk, however, was to grow more exciting as a roost of Noctule bats was discovered deep in the woods  from their social calls to each other (these calls are of relatively low frequency and therefore audible to the human ear). A total of 51 Noctules was counted, leaving the roost to go feeding on insects.



Bat box maintenance.

After observing this, we used bat detectors (which pick up the bats’ echolocation calls) to locate bats on the wing. Five bat species were definitely identified – Noctule, Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle, Daubenton’s and a Myotis species (probably Whiskered). We moved to the riverside and watched Daubenton’s bats skimming the surface for insects, as well as Pipistrelles flitting around our heads! A memorable evening, many thanks to the Durham Bat Group for making it possible.


August 12 2016



Northumbrian Water have been carrying out maintenance work to sewer pipes close to the north side of the Silverlink bridge.




August 7 2016

Our latest session in the woods saw an enjoyable workout removing invasive brambles from around our young trees in the old hockey field at Old Durham. Later we retired to the garden of the Queen’s Head pub. An excellent turn-out, special thanks to our new members.


The old hockey field was a hive of activity in the sunshine.


We admired the beautiful new bench by Graeme Hopper, above the landslip.









July 3 2016


One of many piles of the invasive Himalayan Balsam we have been removing to give our native woodland plants a foothold.


Friends of Pelaw Wood enjoyed a fine summer morning of Himalayan Balsam pulling and excess Bracken removal at our regular meeting on the first Sunday of the month. Our next session will be on August 7 2016 at the usual meeting place of St Giles Close.



June 20 2016


New steps and railing at the landslip site.


Wooden fence at what will be the new riverside path.










June 5 2016



Our latest session in the woods involved more clearing of unwanted invasive plants, and of equally unwanted rubbish!


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