Scarecrow Trail Weekend

The Friends of Rowntree Park hosted our first ‘Scarecrow Trail’ over the weekend of the 7th and 8th of July 2018, and what a fabulous weekend it was!  The theme was ‘children’s stories’ and the trail took people around the streets neighbouring the park.  The local community produced some wonderful, inventive and awe-inspiring offerings.  To name but a few, we had; Room on the Broom, Meg, Mog and Owl, Ginny Weasley from Harry Potter, The Iron Giant, Miffy, Mr Big, George’s Marvellous Medicine, Willy Wonka, Gangster Granny, The Boy in the Dress, Snail and the Whale, the Scarecrows Wedding and so many more!


We had 35 houses involved and this included the main trail and a ‘little legs’ trail for smaller children.  At each house, the scarecrow had a question to be answered. Then those completing the trail sheet voted for their favourite scarecrow and got a sticker!

In the park, we had some stalls and children’s activities which included water play, perfect for very hot toddlers!  Two winners were drawn at random for prizes that included vouchers for the Reading Cafe in Rowntree Park.  We also had a prize for guess the name of the scarecrow.

Overall we had a fabulous weekend and we have heard people plotting what scarecrow they’d make if we were to do it again next year.  We have raised just under £500 and this money will go towards our current projects which include more signage/notices for the park with regard to flowers and wildlife and improvements to the wildlife pond.

A huge thanks to everyone who took part, helped and came along and did the trail.





Ain’t that goose news? Man, ain’t that news? (With apologies to the late, great Sam Cooke)

For a number of months, volunteers from the Friends of Rowntree Park (guided by the council’s experts) have been seeking to manage the goose situation in the Park, in a humane way.

Doing anything to manage the geese problem does not meet the approval of all – and we do appreciate that we can’t please everyone.  Over the decades, there has been much conflicting debate in The Press and over social media (not to mention nationally/internationally) on this issue. There is no simple solution.

The numbers of geese fluctuate, and along with that, the level of nuisance experienced. However, last summer it had again reached a point where there were regularly over 80 geese in the Park. Many local people we spoke to, and who wrote into The Press, were simply unwilling to come to the Park either because their children were scared of the geese or (more likely) because of the sheer volume of goose poo which is unsightly and unhealthy, for young and old alike.

In our work, we remember that our Park is unique because it’s a memorial to the courageous victims of World War 1, as well as a vital resource for recreation, learning and well-being in our increasingly built-up city. The Park is also an essential component in the City’s flood strategy. So for these and many more reasons, it is massively important that the Park continues to be used and enjoyed, maintained and improved.

With so many local people not wanting to visit the Park because of the geese, and the waning in resources available to our Council, those crucial roles of Rowntree Park are endangered.

There have been many debates and conversations with the council and other advisors about the goose situation. As reported in a previous post, we started a programme of goose management using hand-held lasers, which was largely successful. When the goose moulting season set in (June), we induced the final few to leave on foot.

So as of the last week of June, there were no geese in the Park – a couple have returned now and we are certain a few more will return, when they are able to fly comfortably. In small, controllable numbers that will be fine, but we don’t however want to be so overrun that the very future of our Park is called into doubt.

Meanwhile, we continue to discuss other methods to manage them: artificial hawks, daytime volunteer patrols, small fencing around the lake which will deter geese but not mallards. (Incidentally we have had 24 new mallards this year).

A side benefit of our work on this matter has been the daily presence of FRP volunteers in the Park meaning that we can monitor and be active on a range of other vital issues: vandalism, litter, planting, and so forth.

Many thanks to all our goose volunteers – Tom, Val, Lara, Christine and Ruth – who have achieved such success.

We will continue to monitor the goose situation regularly and humanely in the interests of preserving the unique role of our Park in the life of this city and its benefits for so many…

David Rowsell (Goose Herder General)

Orienteering in the park

The Friends of Rowntrees Park and Eborienteers are running a fantastic orienteering event on Saturday 21st of July. Orienteering promotes physical wellbeing and map reading ability, and most of all it is great fun!

There will be a range of courses to suit all ages and abilities from beginners to the more experienced. There will be people on hand to help anyone who hasn’t done orienteering before, therefore it’s the perfect chance to give it a go!


To put it simply, orienteering involves using a map to navigate from point to point.  In this case, finding markers placed all over the park.  For the more competitive, you are given an electronic device to scan the points when you reach them, this records your time it takes you to get from point to point.  You get an overall time and can see who achieved the best times.

There will be 4 courses varying in distance from 1km to 2km. Two courses will be easy (and suitable for buggies/wheelchairs) and two will be a little harder. All will be entirely within the park. People can choose to run as individuals or in groups. We are also hoping to have a ‘string course’ for age 3-5-year-olds.

What you need to know:

Registration and get maps available from 10.00am
Course start time – 11am (finish 12.30pm)
Where – located near the Ping Pong/climbing frame/toilet area
Cost – £3 (includes maps/multiple courses)
Parking information – Carpark, Terry Ave, York YO23 1JQ

More details can be found at
Contact The Friends of Rowntree Park via Facebook or


Walking to Wonderland?

As part of the Bloom! the festival, follow our scarecrow trail this weekend, walking through the local neighbourhood.  The theme is children’s stories.  What an array we have with creative scarecrow designs based on Miffy, George’s Marvellous Medicine, The Iron Giant, The Boy In The Dress, The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Aliens Love Underpants and The Magic Faraway Tree – amongst others – it will be great family-friendly fun.  There is a main trail as well as one for ‘little legs’.

Trails are £2, available from Rowntree Park Reading Cafe, Frankie and Johnnies’ and Pextons on Bishopthorpe Road, as well as from our stall in the park (near the cafe) on Saturday and Sunday, from 11 to 4pm.

Completed trail sheets can be returned to the stall in the park and there are prizes on offer for the ‘Best Scarecrow’ and completed sheets draw at random.  In the park we will also have some children’s crafts activities as well as the opportunity to view our plans for the new play park. We’d love to hear your views on the final three designs.

It should be a fantastic weekend!


Gardening progress, guest post by Rosemary

Rosemary is our wonderful gardening co-ordinator, and this is her report on progress so far, in 2018

The volunteer gardening team have met – weather permitting – on a weekly basis since March.  The plan for Spring was to increase the perennial plants in the borders, adding lupins to copy the original George Russell (a local horticulturist) lupin borders and to plant perennials chosen by Dave Brown (our former park-keeper) as these could cope with the conditions in the borders. The team have been great, working through a sudden snow storm in March whilst restoring the story circle and having to take frequent drink breaks in shade when gardening in May because of the heat.

The raised beds have been built by Tom and Val and put in place with the help of Good Gym and members of the gardening team. These beds are designed for wheelchair gardeners and those with limited movement. The sensory garden beds will have herbs to smell and the other bed easy annuals such as lettuce and radish to taste. Suggestions welcome.

In the picnic garden, the raised beds are designed for children to plant or easy annuals which have interest eg. a smell of chocolate or antirrhinums (snap dragons) which will open by touch. The plan given to CVS for the ‘Growing Green Spaces’ grant is on track. The beech hedge has been restored at the back of the other small garden, and this area will be secure (for toddlers/from geese) when the cost of metal bow-topped railings and gates can be found, thus completing the required symmetry.

In addition to the above, a small memorial bed with red and white pelargonium has been made either side of the (now-listed) Lychgate. It is intended to add a name board of local cocoa workers who served in the First World War, for display by November.

The Cascade area (next to the cafe) has several rather neglected acers (maples) which we have been clearing and we have added a further six smaller specimen trees. The park has received a bequest of a beautiful mature red acer, effectively a bonsai due to its restriction with its pot, which is now at the base of the cascade. We might not be able to replicate the Himalayan Garden near Ripon but certainly intend to improve this area.

The number of volunteers has increased and the support of the council’s environment officers Beki, Kristina and Iain has been marvellous. The future of gardening and maintenance may be uncertain but the team’s enthusiasm for caring for the park has been terrific over the spring period. Many thanks to all of them, from our youngest pre-schoolers to the retirement club!!

Regular sessions on Tuesday mornings (9.30 to about 11.30) and most Saturday mornings. Contact Rosemary on for more information.

Music in Rowntree Park!

We are excited to announce that 2018 has been the year that we have brought music back to Rowntree park!  With regular performances happening through the Spring and summer. Come down, bring a picnic, sit back and enjoy the music!

Music was such an important part of Rowntree Park when it first opened.  The original bandstand was located by the lynchgate until 1929,  and then later moved to south side of the park.  The bandstand was repaired in 1953 but by 1969 was showing major signs of damage, and further flooding in the 1980s and early 1990s led to the decision for it to be demolished.  Following the Lottery Grant funding from 1998, the current outdoor stage space was created near the Cameron Grove gates to the park.

The music we have planned may have no bandstand to perform in, but they will make the most of various locations across the park.  Through May, June and July we have been joined on some Saturday mornings by children from York Music Centre.  Groups such as the String group, Big Band and Folkestra have been performing in the area just underneath the cafe.  These performances will continue on Saturday mornings until the end of the term in Mid July.


We have recently managed to recruit Caroline as our volunteer music coordinator and she has set about organising for a range of diverse musicians to perform in the park.  There are still more to be confirmed, but our current timetable is below.  We hope you agree that music in the park is a fantastic addition.   Please follow us on Facebook for up to date details on events. All performances are weather dependent.

10th June 2-3pm – The Rich Hardcastle Band

23rd June 12-5pm – York College Music Showcase*

24th June 12-1.30pm – White Sail

24th June 2-4pm –  Sax Forte

21st July 2-3pm – Track29

22nd July 2pm – The Big Sing*

*York College event and the Big Sing are independent of the Friends of Rowntree Park, please contact the relevant companies for further details on these events. The ‘Big Sing’ is a free event organised by York Arts Education, but please book tickets here.

If you’d like to find out more about music in the park, please contact

Boat Making!

It’s been a wonderful half term in the park – glorious weather, lots of people out and about, and the Young Friends of Rowntree Park hosted a ‘Boat Making’ activity!

Making the most of our park recycling, our young engineers set to work trying to create crafts that float.  It was wonderful to see the problem solving and creativity that went on.  Some fantastic designs and ideas – some more practical than others!  Our Young Friends tested their boats out and watched to see if they floated.  It was fantastic to see some resilient builders who assessed why their boats were not working as they hoped, and went back to the creation station to remedy this and modify their designs.

This event was run by our ‘Young Friend’ volunteers Abigail, Christine and Ruth.  Over 60 children came and all the money raised will go back into the park.

The next Young Friends event is Den Building on Saturday the 2nd of June, followed by The Very Young Friends (0-5-year-olds) monthly meet up on Thursday 7th of June at 10am where they will be learning all about bees!  All activities designed and organised by the Young Friends of Rowntree park are created for the whole family to get involved. Please see Facebook for up to date information on planned events.

All Young Friends events offer a discount or free entry to Friends of Rowntree Park households.  To join fr just £5 a year please go to or email for further details.