The hythe is an area of land owned and maintained by Worlington Parish Council. It sits to the north west of the village on the southern bank of the River Lark and is accessible via Ferry Drove at the bottom of Church Lane.
Very little is known about the history of the hythe. It was gifted to the village in the enclosure award of 1799. The wooded area is marked on victorian maps as being gravel pits and there was a ford crossing the river on the bend. You can still see today the gentle slope in comparison to the steeper gradient along the rest of the river's course. Although there is no official record, local people have said the area was also used by American soldiers during world war two as either a training area or just a camping area. Evidence to support this has been found including a US army issued knife and a quantity of live ammunition rounds which match the ammo used by the US army during WW2. In more recent times the hythe was leased from the Parish Council by Richard Phillips, formerly of Church Farm. The area back then very much resembles what you see today, with short meadow grass backing on to the woods. It was a favourite place for parishioners to picnic and meet up, many of the older members of the community learnt to swim there and it was always a place for people to meet up, have fun and enjoy the river and the surrounding nature.
Unfortunately after all the years of use, sometime towards the end of the 20th century it began to be neglected, brambles and nettles were allowed to take hold of what was once a sprawling riverside meadow, and reduced the useable openspace to a very small area.
And so, in February 2021, we started this project to breathe new life into the hythe. To make it a more welcoming area where people have the space to enjoy the river, the wildlife and the peace and tranquility that goes with it.
Below are a few excerpts, photos and reports outlining the works that have been done so far and our hopes for what we may achieve in the future.
From the June/July 2021 Pump
'Works started mid February, with all the dead, fallen and dangerous trees being removed from the far end of the site. Over 30 years of neglect meant that this alone was quite a demanding task. All of the trees etc. from this area have been used to create a natural barrier between the open space and the wooded area behind, which not only looks good but is also beneficial to small wildlife, birds etc. who can use it for protection, nesting and also for food. Ivy has been stripped from the trunks of some trees, and some of those that were overhanging the river have been cleared of ivy and brambles and left in situ to provide shaded areas for natural fish habitat. The next job was to clear the brambles which had been left to encroach the meadow, and to return the space to something resembling what it was in the early 1990s. The ditch has also been dug out to allow water to once again flow into it. This area is now ideal for spawning fish as it gives plenty of protection.'
From the Aug./Sept. 2021 pump
'The Reed Bed beside the ditch, as you enter the Hythe, has started to re-establish itself after the removal of the Brambles which had suffocated the area and made it impossible for them to grow. A litter bin has now been installed at the Hythe and should hopefully tackle the issue of rubbish being left around the picnic areas. This will be monitored and emptied by the Parish Council.
We are still waiting to hear back from the Environment Agency regarding the placement of a Canoe Pontoon and fishing platforms. An issue that is repeatedly raised is the safety and suitability of the slope down to the river. Anyone who uses it will know that it very quickly becomes slippery and dangerous. We are hoping to install steps and a rail down to the river, for ease of access. We are seeking guidance on the best way to do this from the Environment Agency.
We had a site visit from an advisor from the Wildlife Trust, who suggested that we widen the natural habitat between the riverbank and the pathway. This has now been marked out, so that the contractors will allow this area to grow. The pathway has also been clearly cut all the way to the end of the site, leaving all the native species to grow up either side. There is also clear definition along the bank between those areas that will be kept short and those that in the future will be planted and left to grow. Our hope is to install a further 2 picnic benches and an extra bin also if the need arises.
We were successful in our application to the Woodland Trust and will be receiving saplings to plant the hedgerows in November. We are hoping to involve the community as much as possible, and volunteers are welcome'
You Can read the full report from the Wildlife Trust here
In July 2021 a bat survey was conducted at various points around the village, including the hythe. The report can be read here
In early autumn a parisihioner very kindly donated a large quantity of bluebell bulbs. these have been planted on the right hand side as you walk into the hythe and around the bases of the trees within the meadow itself so come spring there will be a beautiful blanket of bluebells which will look, and smell amazing.
In December 2021, after a successful application to the Woodland Trust we finally received our saplings ready for planting. We had 420 saplings delivered which were a mix of hawthorn, rowan, blackthorn, silver birch and hazel which when established will create not only shelter and food for the wildlife but also make an attractive woodland edge habitat and border.