Grovehill House Park, later the Margaret Lloyd Park
When Grovehill was being developed the gardens around Grovehill House were preserved in a larger park named Margaret Lloyd Park. Some of the trees therefore could date from an earlier garden or orchard whereas many of the trees and the pond are new additions. An apple tree and a pear tree from the old orchard are still there; nature has surrounded them with a formidable barrier of bramble.
If these trees were planted when Grove Hill House was built they will be over 100 years old, some could be older.
As I don't know much about Grovehill House it is difficult to reconstruct the grounds. There are several specimen trees which would have been planted specifically, a very tall row of Cupressus and Pine trees. What is left of what is called The Bluebell Wood was planted with Larches, novelties that arrived in 1620.
Along the lower boundary of the Park is a dense coppice where the ash, horse chestnut and hazel that has been coppiced form a dense copse of small trees.
Coppicing meant cutting the tree off at the base or stool with the regrowth cut to produce wood suitable for staves or fence posts. In a number of years the timber grew and could be cut again. Some coppiced trees are very old. The trees here have not been cut for a very long time and have grown into quite mature tight clumps of tree trunks.
There must have been some magnificent old elms there before Dutch Elm Disease killed all the mature trees. The roots of the trees remain and send up suckers which grow into thin weak trees forming a dense scrub with young frail trees falling prey to the disease very soon.
There are some quite mature oak trees along the edge of Picotts End Lane in the hawthorn and blackthorn hedgerow and there are two superb fragrant rows of lime trees on either side of the park at the top by the playground which I assume have been planted as part of the new park. I wonder if there is a bee keeper nearby.
I understand that a part of the field on Aycliffe Drive was sold off for housing to pay for the regeneration of the park which had a Trim Trail fitness circuit and a pond. The Trim Trail health circuit might have been Healthy but fell foul of Safety and was dismantled. This park was named in tribute to Margaret Lloyd.
Margaret Lloyd Park is a wonderful place for a walk in almost any weather.
For access that is dry and level start from the shopping centre, Henry Wells Square.
Numbers 2, 3 and 4 buses are regular and frequent.
There is parking in Henry Wells Square
Cross the road and go down the very old Piccotts End Lane which is closed to traffic.
Turn left the at the crest of the hill down the sheltered woodland path, paved but steep
Or turn left on the field path behind the woodland, a bit bumpy.
A marvellous view of hills and down into the Gade valley and Piccotts End
At the bottom of the wood:
Walk up the path through the cycle barrier up the winding tree walk back to the shops.
Or turn left and climb up the path past the pond. There are picnic tables here and a seat with a wonderful view.
Stay on the path, bear left and rejoin the lane if it is at all wet. The grass above gets very soggy.
You can start or end this walk from the bottom of Marlborough Rise or from the far end of Washington Avenue but don't park in the bus turning.