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24 July 2012

Wander in Coldfall Wood

A 14 hectare area of ancient wood in Muswell Hill, Coldfall Wood was once part of a much larger wooded area, and as it was finding itself increasingly encroached upon, it was eventually purchased by Hornsey Council in 1930.

Your author grew up on the edge of a large wood some way away, and has always had an affinity for woodland, so it is always pleasing when these pockets of ancient woodland are protected in the city and Coldfall Wood remains so.

Owned by the London Borough of Harringey, the wood is also loved by the Friends of Coldfall Wood who are keen to monitor its flora, fauna and wildlife and even have plans to "regenerate" it, and whilst in your author's experience woodland tends to do that itself, it is still admirable that they care.

For more, see http://www.coldfallwoods.co.uk/

^Picture © Martin Addison used under a Creative Commons license^


  1. love that wood. I grew up with it just a stones throw away when it was the haunt of weirdos and the track for our primary school's cross country runs. The brook babbled then. Been back many times.

    1. Thank you for including Coldfall Woods on your site, we feel very lucky to be involved with such a beautiful urban oasis and we just want to quickly explain what we interpret as "regeneration":

      With the help of Haringey Council and the Trust for Conservation Volunteers (TCV) our recent regeneration work in the woodland has focused on creating a more biodiverse habitat for wildlife and flora.

      Historically, Coldfall was always used and managed: felled for oak for building ships and houses and coppiced for hornbeam to make charcoal (hence, we believe, the name 'Coal'-fall). When this ceased in the 1930s, the cycle set up over centuries of felling/coppicing came to a stop which means that all the standard trees we currently have are of all the same age (very much unlike a more 'natural' rural woodland).

      Over time, therefore, the canopy has slowly out-shadowed other plants - bushes, brush, wildflowers and grasses alike - which are vital to a healthy and diverse woodland. If we were to let this continue without further coppicing, the trees would all eventually come to the end of their lives at the same time, meaning the woodland would also die. After that point, it could take hundreds of years for the wood to re-establish.

      The work that Haringey, TCV and the Friends have been doing since the 90s has been proven to have already greatly increased the biodiversity of the wood. We're hoping that with continued management the wood will indeed eventually be in a position to look after itself but, until then, we believe a helping hand will ensure it can be enjoyed for centuries to come.

    2. Thanks guys. Really good of you to pop by & well done for all your work.

  2. Just found this reference to the woods I played in between 1947 and when we moved to Surrey in 1952. My Grandma lived in Highgate and we also frequented Cherry Tree Woods. I am so glad to see Coldfall is still there, even though our house in Tudor Avenue was pulled down. Great job Haringey & Friends. Thank you. Carol