A Survey of Warsop's Hedgerows

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The Survey

Our Survey and Findings

Our hedges dominate the appearance of Warsop’s countryside. Wildlife depends on them for shelter, food and corridors for movement. They also tell stories of the past of our countryside. This information aims to give a picture of our hedgerows, looking at their past and considering the ways they are managed.

The Hedgerows Project

Warsop Footpaths and Countryside Group celebrated the Millennium with a project to involve local people in monitoring and recording many aspects of the wildlife and environment of the parish of Warsop. One the many tasks was to survey all 1400 of the boundaries in our countryside. All of the other activities were completed within a couple of years of the start of the new century but this hedge survey took us around a decade to complete.

Boundaries

Warsop’s countryside has over a hundred miles of boundaries where fields adjoin other fields, woodland, industrial or residential sites. These boundaries could be hedgerows, fences, wall or even a gap in a hedge! Boundaries are continuously changing features. During our survey some have been removed, new ones were planted, many declined whilst a few improved.
A gapped hedgerow adjoining Upper Cross Lane
A gapped hedgerow adjoining Upper Cross Lane

A hedgerow generally consists of a line of shrubs, sometimes with trees and a layer of herbaceous vegetation beneath, and often has an associated feature such as a field margin, bank, ditch, or road verge.

Warsop’s Hedgerows in the early 21st Century

We surveyed 1402 boundaries with a total length of about 156 miles. These included 766 hedges, 144 fences and 41 walls. Over 300 boundaries have disappeared since the maps we used were surveyed in the 1980s.

The length of hedgerows totaled 93 miles but this includes 24% of gaps within these hedges which means that there are 70 miles of hedge plants. Standard trees are found in 23% of the hedgerows, 31% have evidence of having been laid at some time, 71% had been clipped or flailed and 18% are overgrown. The average (median) height is 1.8 metres and the average width is 1.2 metres. According to our survey only 38% of Warsop’s hedges are in a favourable condition, measuring at least 1.5m high, 1m wide with gaps making up 20% or less of their length.

A well-managed hedgerow with a standard tree, viewed from The Carrs
A well-managed hedgerow with a standard tree, viewed from The Carrs

How we conducted our research

This project started as a thorough inspection of every hedgerow by a team of volunteers, recording information such as the profile of the hedgebank and the species growing in and around the hedge. Gradually we realised that, if we were to continue to record this level of detail, it would be unlikely that the project would ever get completed. So as survey evolved we became less rigorous, noting only the height, width, gaps, any standard trees and how the hedge had been maintained.

Our superb network of public rights-of-way allowed access to the majority of our hedgerows but a few remote hedges were surveyed from a vantage point using binoculars with the information verified by aerial photographs including Google Earth. Thanks are due to the landowners who either granted us access or turned a blind eye to our presence.

As it took so long to assemble the data, changes occurred during the timespan of the project. Some hedgerows disappeared, some became overgrown and some new ones were planted. So rather than being a complete account of the state of Warsop’s countryside at one point of time it gives a picture of the condition of our hedges during the first decade of this century.

To investigate the changes to Warsop’s field boundaries we compared Sanderson’s 1835 map with later data. For the more recent information we analysed Ordnance Survey maps, aerial photographs from the 1940s and 1950s, more recent images from Google Earth together with the outcomes of our own surveying.

The file of data giving information that we have collected about each boundary will allow future comparisons with the current situation. Electronic versions of this file are available online from this site and paper versions will be lodged in local libraries and record offices.