Royal projects right on track

Heather Large looks at some of the ways the county will benefit from the king’s coronation, with sustainability and the environment at the forefront. 

Community groups and volunteers will be working together to create a lasting legacy as they celebrate the King’s coronation. 

A series of projects focusing on sustainability and the environment – both keen passions of His Majesty – are getting under way across Telford & Wrekin. 

Among them is the Telford Coronation Walks, 23 new circular walks which will be developed by the Friends of the Telford T50 50 Mile Trail. 

They have been designed to help people explore interesting and green historic places around Telford. 

“Given King Charles’ love of the environment, history and outdoors, this seems especially appropriate,” says Anne Suffolk, who is part of the volunteer-led group. Most walks are between three and four miles and all are under five miles, which means they can be enjoyed in one to two hours. 

They will all start near a bus stop or a large car park to make it easier for walkers to get to the beginning of each route. 

“The 23 Telford Coronation Walks explore the remains of early canals like the Guillotine Locks in Hadley and the beautiful pools around Trench, take you to the squatter’s cottage in Lightmoor or tell the story of a local hero like Dawley’s Captain Webb,” explains Anne. 

“Some walks where children go to admire huge flocks of ducks and geese, such as The Flash in Priorslee owe their origins to the long history of mining in the area. Other walks take in the history of old towns like Dawley, Newport, Oakengates and Wellington that make up the new borough of Telford and Wrekin. 

“There are scenic viewpoints where one can hear birdsong or even spot wild deer such as around Smalley Hill Local Nature Reserve and New Works.” 

The Telford T50 50 Mile Trail was created to celebrate the new town’s 50th anniversary in 2018. It links together parks, woods, pools, nature reserves and open countryside with the World Heritage Site of the Severn Gorge, birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, and the many new and historic towns and villages that make up Telford 

Friends group member, Naomi Wrighton, says the Telford Coronation Walks have been designed to help people discover less familiar green spaces on their doorstep. 

“We’re trying to connect people in Telford with green, open spaces. There are a lot of green spaces in Telford but some people don’t know they are there. 

“We have deliberately not included The Wrekin, The Ironbridge Forge and Coalbrookdale as there are many well-known and well-documented walks in these areas already,” she explains. 

Everyone is invited to join the first guided walk which takes place on Monday, May 8 at 10.30am from The Hub on the Hill, Sutton Hill Local Centre, 104-106 Southgate, TF4 4HG. 

“Why choose Sutton Hill?,” says Anne. “Well, the present monarch’s namesake King Charles II once had to flee for his life over what is now Sutton Hill housing estates and golf course. 

“After his defeat at the battle of Worcester in the Civil War he wanted to cross the Severn to escape to a Welsh port. Disguised as a labourer and coached to speak with a Shropshire accent, he intended to use a ferry near Coalport. 

“Arriving in Madeley he was forced to hide during the day in a barn when he found the town and river heavily guarded by Cromwell’s forces. At night fall he retraced his steps back towards Boscobel where he hid in the famous oak tree, before heading south to sail to exile in France. 

“The circular walk retraces his flight across Sutton Hill to the barn in Madeley and back. The very scenic route follows public rights of way including part of the Silkin Way, passes the Hay Incline to the viewpoint at the top of the Ironbridge Gorge, though a pretty wood and then around part of the edge of the golf course.” 

Each Telford Coronation Walk will be supported by free leaflets and gpx files to download from website. All will be signposted with waymarks with the special crown and four nations’ symbols logo. A not for profit guidebook costing about £5, will also be available when the last walk is completed around the end of 2023. All the work will be done by enthusiastic local volunteers giving their time and energy for free. 

Telford Steam Railway is looking to create a woodland walk, which will be called Coronation Way, between the Barrow Crossing and Doseley Halt. 

The area is already popular with walkers who generally follow the formation of the old track bed. 

But there are plans to extend the line and relay new track in the near future so the railway team decided to create a dedicated footpath for people to use instead.

At the moment, the railway’s regular passenger timetable consists of a departure from Spring Village north to Lawley Village and then back along the line to stop at Horsehay & Dawley. The train then repeats this journey in reverse, for a round trip taking 50 minutes. 

The ambitious Steaming to Ironbridge project would see steam trains regularly returning to the Ironbridge Gorge for the first time since 1966. The next phase of work will see the track relaid to Doseley Halt. 

“Once the trains start running it will not be safe for people to do walk on the old track bed so we wanted to create a dedicated walkway,” says the railway’s commercial director and volunteer Richard Owen. 

The team will be planting native trees along the trail as well as plants that benefit wildlife. “We’re located on one of the wildlife corridors in Telford so we want to see what wildlife we can attract to the area,” says Richard. 

The railway is also hosting a cream tea special service to celebrate the King’s Coronation on Saturday, May 6. For tickets, see 

At Maws Craft Centre, work is under way to create a communal wildlife garden, which will be known as The Monarch’s Mini Kingdom, in the Victorian courtyard. 

The project is being led by Sarah Ryan of Wild At Art, the centre’s gardener Rob Miles and Nicky Fraser of Loam plants and desirables. 

They will be supported by a small group of volunteers, who responded to a appeal on social media, to transform an existing green space in the courtyard to create a haven for a wildlife. 

It is hoped that this will help to foster both love and respect for the environment and help inspire people to find ways of encouraging wildlife in their own gardens. 

There will be benches to provide people the chance to spend time in the garden and reflect on what they can see. 

Nicky, who has designed the new garden, says all of the plants going into the ground have been chosen to benefit wildlife. 

“We already have a lot of wildlife here, especially moths. We want to educate people to love all insects, not just the bees, because they all play an important role. 

“There will be a succession of flowers throughout the year. We are going to be planting nectar-rich plants like shasta daisies and anthemis. We’re going to have undulating privet hedges to hopefully attract the privet hawk moth. 

“We also have a colony of sparrows nesting in one of the roofs here and there’s nothing they like more than a privet hedge. 

“Although we can’t have a pond for safety reasons, we will be creating a watering hole for the birds and the insects. It will look like a pond but will only be two or three inches deep and filled with stones. It means the birds can drink and bathe and the insects can drink from the water. We want to protect the environment and help it to flourish,” explains Nicky. 

Subtle signage will provide people with information about what they can look out for in the garden and there are plans to create a checklist for children. 

“It will also be a quiet place to sit and it will feel enclosed, a bit like a secret garden,” says Nicky. 

“People use this area not just to visit the shops and units, but as a walkway so they will also benefit as well as the people living in the flats above the courtyard.” 

Sarah will be running workshops giving participants the chance to make stepping stones, bird feeders and bug hotels for the garden. 

She says the team is keen to hear from anyone who is able to support the project either by sparing a few hours to help or donating nectar-rich plants. 

“At this time of year people are splitting plants in their garden so of they have any spare, it would be great if they would consider donating them to us,” she says.

Anyone able to help can call 07921542900 or contact Sarah or Nicky via their Facebook pages. 

All three projects have received financial support from Telford & Wrekin Council’s King’s Coronation Celebration grant fund. 

More than 50 applications seeking support for community events and projects were approved with council leader Shaun Davies saying: “The aim is to make the Coronation weekend one to remember, as well as supporting projects throughout the Coronation year that create lasting memories. It will be a time for celebration, community spirit and for marking this occasion.” 

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