Welcome to the Highbury Discovery Points page!
We’ve set up an information trail of about 30 points where we think there’s something of educational or general interest. We’ve made a map (here) and this page of notes for anyone with a QR-enabled phone or tablet. Aside from the description, each listing also has other useful bits of info for you to download or share.
QR Codes: these are patterns of square dots that link to website pages or other resources. The codes need a QR Code Scanner installed on one’s phone, tablet or other device. Note that scanners show the results in different ways. The link should take you directly to the correct section on a page, but sometimes only gets to the top of the page. So each code is labelled with the correct section name (e.g. Keyhole Garden) and geolocation (e.g. 52.44045,-1.89903). The paper QR codes are labelled with the geolocation, and newer ones may have the section name too.
Ancient Hedgerow (52.4390,-1.9027 to 52.4364,-1.9004)
A line of old oak trees and hawthorn running between the railway and Shuttuck Brook are the remnants of old field boundaries and a hedgerow.
This ash and the oak near it were pruned extensively in 2014. Instead of having the leavings chopped up and taken away, Highbury Park Friends asked that the branches remain on the ground, and we offered to organise the branches into a circular hedge as a decorative and habitat-enhancing measure. We are doing this and similar activities as part of our Stick Around sessions.
BBKA beehives (52.4408390,-1.9001600)
The Birmingham Beekeepers’ Association have their training apiary here, where they’ve run practical beekeeping sessions since about 1960. Historical Fact: the BBKA are a charitable organisation that has served Birmingham for nearly 100 years.
The Bee Cause (52.4382867,-1.8978694)
In 2013, HOCCIC received a small grant from Friends of the Earth to establish a Foraging Necklace; a series of wildflower stands meant to encourage pollinators. A little work was done at the edge of the Henburys Wood, sowing mixture of woodland wildflowers. By the summer of 2015 the mallow has done particularly well and we will collect seed this autumn. We also raised awareness with a Honey Fun day in the autumn of 2013 and have run a harvest event each year since. This year’s Highbury Harvest day will be 17th October 2015.
Beech Tree Enclosure (52.4382213,-1.8998569)
This tree died some while ago, and was left standing in line with the park policy of leaving standing dead wood for landscape character and habitat, while isolating it from general access by allowing scrub to grow up around it. In years to come, the sapling trees will shade out the bramble, and a new grove of trees will develop.
Brick Floor (52.4407720,-1.8988055)
The remains of the Joe Chamberlain’s farm are here. According to written records this was a two-storey Gothic barn, plus a line of low sheds, a creamery, and possibly other farm buildings. Nowadays people gather here for our sessions, to socialise or just to have a quiet moment to themselves. Cut logs of various sizes ensure that groups of visitors have somewhere to sit, and there’s a proper tree-swing too.
Broken Tree (52.4376441,-1.9036496)
This tree snapped in the Summer of 2015, and may yet survive in horizontal repose.
Children’s Pond (52.4403093,-1.8994170)
A dipping pond for children has been started across from the lower end of the Orchard. It’s part of the community garden, and we hope it will be a good habitat for frogs, newts, damselflies and dragonflies that will also visit the orchard itself. We plan to grow wetland plants like yellow flag, and marginals like lady’s smock and creeping jenny.
Clay Bank (52.4397435,-1.9012785)
As Shuttuck Brook erodes its way into the soil, it exposes a variety of interesting geological characrteristics, including glacial deposits of pebbles, clay, and sand. This particular spot is easily accessible clay, making it a good spot for some children’s activities.
Climbing tree (52.4396732,-1.8999669)
A favourite spot for young people to gather, usually while perched on the lower branches.
Community Orchard (52.4405676,-1.8989128)
Started on 10/10/2010, the Highbury Community Orchard is a labour of historical, ecological, horticultural and amenity interest. A wide range of general events and sessional activities happen here.
Counting Rings (52.4396405,-1.9031829)
This lime (linden) tree was cut down in 2013, and revealed about 110 rings, which have been marked with small nails every 10th ring.
Duck Pond (52.4399365,-1.9018820)
The largest of several ponds in the park. Historical Fact: this is an artificial pond dug for Joe Chamberlain.
Fairy Doors (52.4399103,-1.8996638)
Highbury has always been a good place for faeries and other woodland folk. Sometimes we find traces of their living and activities. On occasion, children and fairies have exchanged cards, notes, and gifts. The fairies do like to move around a bit, so it’s always worth keeping an eye open for new doors, windows, and other features of fairy life.
Forest School Base (52.4408112,-1.8994626)
This is where we have certain Forest School activities – though a lot of the Outdoor Education happens throughout the park.
Harp & Benches (52.4385908,-1.8984488)
Woodcarver Graham Jones made these benches and harp sculpture as part of the Playbuilder scheme funded through the Parks department in 2011. The distinctive wood and stone sculptures now serve as a popular meeting point.
Hazel Arches (52.4391157,-1.9022548)
This area of hazel coppice has been intermittently managed, and also serves as an imaginative playspace for people who like weaving living wood structures, such as the several hazel arches throughout.
Henburys Apple Trees (52.438896, -1.898683)
This line of ancient apple trees produces brilliant red flowers and small red apples that are quite sweet. Not exactly crabapples! This is also the start point for the Playtrail, and the first place we visit on our annual Wassail in January.
Apple trees of this age are favoured by various animals as sources of food and shelter, so we want to see the trees doing well. We do a bit of thinning and pruning each year, and inspect for damage.
Henburys Pond (52.4379416,-1.8980062)
One of the oldest garden features in the area, this pond may be several hundred years old. It has a diverse range of wildlife living in and near it.
Henburys Wall (52.4384776,-1.8983978)
The only structure left from 200 years of house, farm and garden buildings on this site. A close look at the wall reveals several interesting details.
Henburys Wood (52.4384976,-1.8979070)
Some of this wood is quite old – including the ornamental trees planted nearby. Look for the two variegated holly trees alongside the drive. They could be 100-200 years old.
Keyhole Garden (52.44045,-1.89903)
The Keyhole Garden was created in May 2015 as part of the Children’s Community Garden (such as the Pumpkin Patch and Dipping Pond). The concept of keyhole gardens is set out here. See our story about it here.
These logs are intended to form a long line of logs as part of the children’s playtrail.
Linden Tree (52.4378632,-1.8989503)
Also called the leaf-catching tree for the game children play of chasing and catching the samaras (helicopters) as they flutter to the ground. Linden flowers are a favourite in a relaxing herbal tea.
Locus 1 (52.4401523,-1.8992722)
This is the midway point between the most widely separated QR trail features. From here, you can set out in any direction to find points of interest.
This point marks the point midway between North-South and East-West most QR features.
Log Bridge (52.4410875,-1.9002298)
Memorial Yew Tree (52.4410712,-1.8982744)
Adopted as a memorial garden in 2014 by people who are remembering friends and loved ones who’ve succumbed to substance abuse or similar fates. A memorial ceremony is held in July.
NCS Design Challenge (52.4412308,-1.900213)
In the summer of 2014, teams of NCS volunteers cleared this area and planted wildflower seed. What was formerly laurel and bramble has become a clearing in the woods for the enjoyment of others, and a more diverse habitat for insects.
In 2015, the NCS Design Challenge is to improve the amenity even more.
One of the giant kipsies has been decorated with bamboo poles, string, coloured chalk, and other bits.
We’re not quite sure what it’s meant to be. Someone asked “Is it a boat … or something’. We adopted the Or Something option. It is of course an Awesome Thing. Children definitely enjoy using the chalks, and doing things with string. So it’s a work in perpetual progress. Stop and add a bit of your own!
A group of about 30 varieties of evergreen trees, including about 20 young Giant Redwoods, Sequoiadendron giganteum. Here’s a list and map.
Play Area (52.4387396,-1.8984032)
A naturalistic play area installed in 2011, made mostly of earth, wood and stone. A public consultation was held in 2010, which called for a simple open area of contoured earth, See also Harp & Benches, Henburys Apple Trees
An extension of the play area being developed by volunteers, in order to provide educational and exploratory opportunities that were missed out in the original play area. So far, there’s a meandering woodland trail, a willow den, some log stacks, a mud dragon, some balancing logs, a gathering area, and in winter an open space that we use to make land art and temporary playful structures.
Ridge & Furrow (52.4379842,-1.9007635)
Highbury was once farmland, and several places were ploughed using the old method of ridge and furrow. the largest and most evident section is just north of the main path near the car park and ancient hedgerow.
This small stream runs all year round, probably fed by Henburys Pond. It emerges from the ground partway down the meadow, and follows the course of an old pipe for much of its length.
Sideways Tree (52.4382981,-1.8962413)
This poplar fell over in 2013, and has been left as is, thankfully, because it’s a great place for kids to explore the structure of a living tree. Summer 2015, this tree is now dying back – accelerated by the work of squirrels and possibly badgers scraping away at the bark.
Silt Marsh (52.4405283,-1.8999454)
A wetland area created by damming the runoff from above, and which has become a splendid spot for spotting various winged wildlife.
Solstice Sundial (52.43984,-1.89991)
The sundial was set up near the Fairy Doors for our 2015 Solstice Picnic. We marked the sun’s passage by driving small stakes at the tip of the shadow as it rotated. We left it there for a few days, but it’s gone now.
Here are some links to further bits of solstice info.
Within the Ancient Hedgerow that runs between railway and stream are some stands of hazel, ash, cherry and other trees planted a few decades ago and left to themselves. We are gradually restoring the hazel to their former use as coppice wood.
Spider Table Gathering Space (52.4402439,-1.8990362)
Tucked away in the woods below the orchard, this space serves as a gathering space for children’s activities in the vicinity.
Tallgrass Meadow (52.4379302,-1.9030836)
This meadow was re-established by agreement between Highbury Park Friends and the Parks Department several years ago. The idea was that this remnant of agricultural land might contain distinctive flowers and grasses from that era, which would take a few years to re-establish. So the mowing is kept to a minimum, and informal wildfower surveys are done to see what’s turned up.
Some areas of the park are left uncut for other reasons, mainly where the ground is too wet to drive over, (such as above the duck pond) and sometimes where a stand of wildflowers has been planted and protected.
Tunnel Tree (52.4372189,-1.9043148)
This poplar tree fell over several years ago, and mostly uprooted itself, but survives by sending branches upright as new trees, either side of the main stem.
Willlow Copse (52.4361691,-1.9032472)
Several willow trees have been planted along the ancient boundary ridge between Moon Meadow and the bit of land formerly named Hop Field. We’ve been pruning those trees, harvesting branches, and weaving a rutic wattle fence alongside. We are doing this and similar activities as part of our Stick Around sessions.