Force Beck Wood is a community wood just south of Shap, adopted by volunteers in 2013 and 2014. This report was prepared in July 2014. For more information please phone Dave Corrie on 01931716250 or Peter Dicken on 07837816795 or 01931716133 - or send us a contact message in category "Force Beck wood Shap".
The one and half acre wood lies about one mile south of the centre of the village, beside the beck and between the West Coast main railway line and the A6 trunk road.
Although it is a mixed wood there are indications of planting in the recent past, with tree stakes still attached to inappropriately large trees. Though mainly deciduous, there are also a few mature coniferous trees present. There is a grassed area to the north of the beck which appears to be kept mown, with a metal bench set in it where people can sit and admire the sunset; a similar bench has been sited alongside the A6 towards the western edge of the wood for the same purpose. The southern edge is bordered by a limestone drystone wall.
In 2013 the parish council was approached regarding the wood’s ownership and the possible use of it as a community asset. It was found that Force Beck Wood belonged to the parish and permission was granted for interested parties to ‘litter pick’ and generally tidy it up. The wood had historically been used as a tipping site, an earlier incarnation had been a stone quarry and there appears to be evidence of an old lime kiln at the rear and above the beck. Grass cuttings are still being tipped in the wood above the beck but don’t appear to be having a detrimental effect on water quality.
Dave Corrie founded a working partnership with Suzie Grainger from the Eden Rivers Trust who was looking for a fencing project with which to engage young volunteers. Materials were obtained and a fence has duly been erected along the road side, behind new tree planting, which used donated trees. More plants and trees will be added to form a hedge, as and when they can be obtained and at the appropriate planting time. The line of the fence follows that of an earlier one that had used concrete posts; the new fence has used wooden stakes and a donated telegraph pole as straining posts. A gate and removable wood rails will complete the roadside fencing. The old Shap pink granite gate stoops remain, along with other pink granite rocks (a feature of the area), along the fence/hedge line. The Rivers Trust volunteers have also constructed a large woven wood compost area to the rear north eastern corner to replace the old grass cutting dump. They have also begun construction of a bird watching ‘hide’ on flat ground close to the beck. This area has also been planted with donated alder whips ideally suited to wet land. Some lopping of deadwood and intrusive tree branches has begun which lets in light to help regenerate undergrowth.
Future uses of the wood will hopefully include education, and interest has been expressed by the primary school in Shap, who see it as an ideal site to observe wildlife and hold a forest school; they also loaned the litter pickers for volunteer use. The local Cub pack and scout troop have also expressed interest in using the site.
Ongoing work required includes fencing off the railway embankment, lopping and pruning of some trees to let in more light. Professional forestry advice will be sourced from within the Shap community as to which trees require maintenance.
It is hoped that a day later in the year can be identified to complete the fencing alongside the A6, with a proper gate, removable post and rail fencing, charcoal burning, ending with a BBQ for all the day’s participants.