February 2nd 2020

Repairing steps

January 1st 2020

Our traditional New Year’s Day walk brought its usual good turnout of Friends, friends and family!


February 3rd and 10th 2019

Members of Friends of Pelaw Wood and Durham University Conservation Society joined ecologist Julia Quinonez for a snowy but fascinating talk on tree identification, ecology and biology.

One week later, and we returned for a second session with Julia in far more springlike conditions.

January 6th 2019 – work session and AGM

A balmy mid-winter morning saw Friends of Pelaw Wood members engaged in various tasks. The path near St Giles Close has been re-widened after encroachment by vegetation and general detritus.




The leaf blower was put to work clearing paths. Other tasks included more path repairs and bramble pulling.




After our labours we gave our jaw muscles and (hopefully) our brains some exercise at the Annual General Meeting in the Queen’s Head pub. The 2018 Secretary’s report can be read here.





January 1st 2019 – New Year’s Day Walk


The start of another year brought another excellent turnout for our traditional walk around the woods, led by chairman Tony. Happy new year to all Friends and supporters.

The view of the cathedral form Old Durham.








September 26th 2108 – Moth Watch Evening

A fine turnout of 12 plus leader Dr Dave Wainwright of Butterfly Conservation (based at Low Barns, Witton-le-Wear) were rewarded with a balmy evening full of interest. The full list of moths observed is as follows:


Silver Y

Green-brindled crescent

Brown-spot pinion


Yellow-line quaker

Merveille du jour

Green carpet

Red-green carpet

Common marbled carpet

Dusky thorn

Rhomboid tortrix (a micro moth).











Merveille du Jour











Common Marbled Carpet


Spring 2018 – Species list for Durham Wildlife Trust Botany Group visit to Pelaw Wood

Click the link above for a full list of flora.

September 2nd 2018

This month we took on the hard task of clearing a fallen tree from the riverside meadow at The Batts. The resulting wood pile will provide a good habitat for various wildlife.


August 5th 2018

August’s work session saw bracken clearing and more Balsam pulling in the upper glade on a hot Sunday morning.


June 3rd and July 1st 2018

Our latest work sessions saw good progress with Himalayan Balsam removal – although there is still much to do and there will be some extra midweek evening sessions for anyone interested.


May 6th 2018

This month’s session in the woods saw good work in hot sunshine. This drainage culvert on the ‘middle’ path was created; a step was repaired; balsam and brambles were pulled.

Update: the new drainage pipe is working well.




April 8th 2018

Step repairs and litter removal were on the agenda this morning, with a good turn-out on a fine spring morning.

These are some of many items recovered from Pelaw beck and its environs.



March 4th 2018

Today’s session in the woods was cancelled because of the white stuff, but we will be back in April!

February 4th 2018

Excellent progress was made (with the help of Durham University Conservation Society) in blocking off illegal access points to the wood, particularly for off-road motorbikes, which cause terrible damage, especially at this time of year.



There are many rights of way in the wood, none of which involve the destruction of habitat caused by these unofficial paths. We hope that by blocking certain points, the enjoyment of the wood for all will increase manyfold over time.


January 7th 2018 – work session and AGM

We were once more blessed with good weather for our first monthly work session of 2018. Cowslip plants were planted in the poor soil near the riverbank, and step repairs were carried out near the ‘middle’ path.

Update May 2018: the cowslips are now coming through.



Our Annual General Meeting followed at the Queen’s Head Pub in Gilesgate, where strategies and events for the coming year were discussed. It should be another interesting twelve months in the woods.




January 1st 2018 – New Year’s Day Walk

Mild conditions and pleasant sunshine greeted the new year after the recent snow.

Setting out!

Always worth lingering for the view of Durham cathedral.

The first day of 2018 saw a fine attendance of well-behaved canine and human Friends for our New Year Walk under the guidance of Roger as walk leader. A Happy New Year to all members and supporters!


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.


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.



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