This is the page for information about the volunteer project to improve and repair the boardwalk through Hinksey Heights Nature Trail.
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Interested in volunteering? Contact us.
The boardwalk was originally built by students at Peers School, now known as Oxford Academy, as part of an outdoor educational programme. The programme began in 2003 and was led by Naomi Crawford, at the time a teacher at Peers School, and later Oxford Academy.
Naomi was employed by the Oxfordshire Education Authority who also successfully secured funding from other charitable bodies, including TOE (Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment) to build two forest schools and a boardwalk through the nature trail.
The forest schools were built to provide practical, interactive outdoor experiences to the students. Students from Oxford Academy studying towards BTEC Level 1 and 2 awards in Countryside and Environment also used the trail for practical projects.
Though the Nature Park is no longer used for educational programmes, some left over materials from Naomi’s projects remain in the onsite workshop which are now being used as part of the new volunteer effort to repair the boardwalk, bridges and hides, with a view to further extend the boardwalk.
The Friends of Hinksey Heights Project
Since lockdown came into effect in the UK, the nature trail has seen increased levels of activity. It has been fantastic to see the trail used by walkers, rock hunters and bird watchers alike, and we are glad that the boardwalk offers families and households opportunities to get together for outdoor activities at this time. However, there has been an increase of people using the trail inappropriately for cycling/mountain biking which puts strain on the boards and surface wire netting and damages them.
A group of volunteers called Friends of Hinksey Heights has stepped up to lead the project to repair damaged sections of the boardwalk so that the trail continues to be a safe and enjoyable place for walkers to come. The project includes plans to expand the length of the boardwalk over muddy sections and areas that are less accessible.
This new project currently relies on materials that were left over from the schools’ programmes to replace damaged sections of the boardwalk, and old boards are recycled where possible. The Friends of Hinksey Heights estimate that replacing damaged boards will require around 200 new boards to be put in, and yet more are needed to be able to extend the boardwalk. All of the new and improved sections require a layer of chicken wire on top to prevent the surface becoming slippery in poor weather conditions. We anticipate that existing supplies of materials will not be enough to deliver the project on an ongoing basis and that we will need to purchase further supplies. The project does not currently receive any funding outside of donations.
Find out more about how to donate here.
If you are interested in volunteering on the boardwalk project, please contact us at:
We particularly welcome volunteers with practical experience of D.I.Y. or construction. Sessions are usually held on Thursdays and Saturdays, weather depending.
Any donations you make to the Friends of Hinksey Heights’ boardwalk project will go towards purchasing materials and promoting awareness of the project.