Long Ashton villagers in bid for ancient woodland

People living in a North Somerset village are trying to raise £100,000 to stop developers from buying woodland.

The campaigners hope to buy Keeds Wood and The Brake on the outskirts of Long Ashton and have to find the money by Friday lunchtime.

Parish councillor Henny Fordham said the council was told of the owner's intention to sell the 18.5-acre plot last Monday.

She said so far more than £50,000 had been pledged.

'Grants available'

"It's a real race against time and the owners, who live locally, said the sale was an 'open competition' and that 'we wouldn't get any favours'.

"We would really love to have a bit more time because there are woodland grants we can apply for.

"If we can get a bit more time then we are confident we would be able to raise the full amount."

Ian Webb, who has lived in the village for nearly 50 years, has pledged £5,000 to the project.

"It's been my favourite walk as long as I've lived here," he said.

"When we had four small children we were up there at least twice a week having picnics in the woods.

'So few left'

"The woods have always been effectively free access and although there is only one footpath through, there's never been any problem wandering off and enjoying the woods.

"One of my fears is that the footpath could be fenced in which would change the whole feeling of the woods - a beautiful free and wild space.

"There are so few of those left around these days," he added.

Keeds Wood and The Break is thought to have been planted in the 1600s.

It was once part of the Smyth estate - which owned nearby Ashton Court Estate - and has been owned privately for the past 60 years.

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