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View from the Heath: Plenty of discoveries to be explored during spring

PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 April 2018

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Now that we are officially in spring and despite some unseasonably cold weather recently, it is a good opportunity to reflect on all of the activities and events which have been happening on the Heath.

All of our staff have been busy making sure the Heath is ready for the busy warmer months ahead. The Conservation Team has found and been uncovering an historic pond found on a map from the 1800s in the upper bird sanctuary near the Vale of Health bothy. They thinned the canopy by coppicing and have dead-hedged the entire area. This shows that even though we think we know every inch of the Heath, it can always surprise us.

The team has also been busy opening up the tree canopy along the Fleet stream near Limes Avenue, just upstream from the Catch Pit which will enhance the catchment ecologically. They have also reduced the tree canopy on the east bank of the Mixed Pond allowing light into the marginal edges which will benefit aquatic invertebrates and amphibians. This work shows the importance of managing the Heath landscape and not allowing it to become too overgrown with scrub which can inhibit the ecology.

The Parliament Hill keepers have also been busy preparing the track and facilities for the athletics season. This year, the popular Night of the 10,000m PBs, taking place on May 19, is also going to be the host of the 10,000m European Cup. The International Association of Athletics Federation have visited to assess the track’s suitability and I’m delighted to report they have given us certification. We are expecting 50 athletes from 19 countries to attend. This will be a great event to spectate so do get it in your diary.

Talking about diaries, our popular Heath Events Diary for 2018/19 is out now and available to pick up from many locations on the Heath and local libraries. It is a useful guide to the year ahead and lists all of our events, plus information about the Heath, including a map. This year we are running an exciting and varied programme of guided walks, led by our staff, from bat walks to tree and plant identification walks to a tour of the hidden corners of the Heath. If you want to attend a walk, do book early, through Eventbrite, to avoid disappointment.

Keats House Museum, found at South End Green is another place which has a varied events calendar. You can look online to see what is coming up for the next three months and book tickets. They have many poetry readings and other interesting workshops related to literature, poetry and the works of John Keats. The special exhibition, which runs until 18 October, is about Keats and John Milton’s famous poem ‘Paradise Lost.’ A fascinating insight into how one visionary poet was so influenced by another. The special exhibition is included in the entry price of the museum.

I hope you will be able to enjoy one, or many, of the City of London Corporation’s fantastic events on the Heath or at Keats House this spring and summer season.

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