Moss Valley circular (28th June 2018)

Thursday 28th June: the first evening walk led by Chris Turk

Starting from the Coal Aston village hall car park, down to the Moss Valley. A lovely walk, easy pace, with so much information given to us by Chris: meanings of some of the names, the work of the Woodland Trust, the difference between ‘wood’, ‘woods’ and ‘plantation’.

Here are Chris’s notes:


Win = broom or birch (Wineacre Wood)

Spring = Coppice – Cookspring Wood

Carr = wetland

Owler = Alder   – Owler Carr

Furze = gorse

Hollin = holly – rich winter food for cattle, sheep and deer. Usually pollarded or coppiced

Hagg = enclosure

Wood – pre 1700

Plantation – post 1700

Multiple “Woods” together (eg Ecclesall Woods) suggests Enclosure Act 1200 giving parcels of land to Norman lords. Domesday book


Bell pits for coal

Q pits for “White coal” – dried wood cooler than charcoal, for lead and lime

Flat hearths for charcoal

Ironstone/ metal slag from smelting

Major earth-fast stones

Mine adits horizontal into hillside

Criss crossed with tracks and Victorian drainage channels

NB Tree age must be less than the earthworks underneath!

Indicator Species

Big trees on boundary (inner ones used up!)

Laid hedges

Ancient coppice stools/ groups of trees in a ring from one base

Bluebell (won’t cross gaps)

Creeping soft grass

Black Briony (in hedgerows)

Hazel and Blackthorn

Hedge woundwort

Whych Elm

Wood Anemone

Yellow Archangel

Dogs mercury in acid soil (it is prolific in lime)

Herb Paris


Charcoal making was a closed guild, same process till 1800s

Eg Ecclesall Woods used up, covered in charcoal hearth, now acid, species poor. Richer ring around the edge. Soil was all dug up to bank fires

Holly was fermented in pits to make bird lime to trap birds

Many coppices cleared in mid 1800s with winch, dynamite or fire. Replanted for timber or parks

Late 1800s intensive farming with a criss cross of old lanes and hedgerow

Alder for cheap and easy clogs, beech for quality

We ended the walk at the Cross Daggers,  where one of the group even got roped in to joining in with the Harthill Morris Dancers! Jingle jingle, Yolande!

Graham’s pics:

old sticks (not cross)

old crossed sticks