The Parish Council recently met with the new owner of Windmill Wood to hear what was planned for the site. We were very pleased that the new owner’s primary focus will be actively managing the woodland with an aim to make the woodland more biodiverse. This work will include the restoration of the wetland area, including a pond, that the new owner wants to restore to a healthy state and allow it to become a refuge for wildlife. We understand that the work will include the selective thinning of trees, coppicing and the removal of some of the invasive rhododendrons, which will allow more light to filter through to the woodland floor, allowing a greater diversity of other plant species to thrive.
This is positive news given Cheshire has one of the lowest coverage of woodland (4% half the national average). This wood is identified within many historical maps such as John Speed’s map of Cheshire, Ollerton in 1600, windmills are shown within the wood. One of our long standing residents also recalls a windmill within the woods. Christopher Saxton’s map in 1577 also illustrates woodland in Ollerton in this area. There are many veteran trees within this ancient wood and ponds which provided wetland habitats for the resident wildlife.
We have asked about public access to the woods and we are pleased able to confirm that the 3 footpaths through the woodland, Knutsford FP19, Toft PF11 and Toft FP4 will be improved by the owner and, of course, remain fully open. Users of these paths are reminded that the woodland is privately owned and that there is no general public access away from the public rights of way. Windmill Wood is designated a SBI site and recognised by Cheshire Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust. This is why its protection is so important and the positive proposals should be supported.
The Parish Council will keep parishioners abreast of developments as and when information is shared with us by the landowner.
We see these proposals as a positive contribution to our wonderful countryside.