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.





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


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.

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.



Nature Ninjas spring into action!




What an amazing start our ‘Nature Ninjas’ have had!  This new after-school club has been running a  few weeks now and it is proving to be lots of fun!  Our Younger Friends of Rowntree Park have been trying out a variety of nature-based activities including den building, pond dipping, bug hunting and making birds nests.  There is still a lot more to come throughout this half term – we can’t wait!


The club of 15 children meet weekly on a Thursday after school.  If you are interested in your child coming along to future Nature Ninja sessions that may run next half term, get in touch with the Young Friends via Facebook or via to register interest.

All our events are run by volunteers.  If you are interested in helping run and/or organise children’s events, we’d love to hear from you.

The Young Friends also run monthly one-off events, more details can be found on Facebook.




Is Rowntree Park rusting?

Occasionally we notice some curious (natural) goings-on in the park and we do our best to figure out what’s happening. Recently a Friend pointed out an area with rust-coloured water running over the lakeside paths – what was it? where did it come from? Was there a giant iron structure buried in the park??

Luckily for us, Gary (one of the gardening volunteers) and his partner Lucy have some expertise in related areas, and Gary emailed to say:

We think that what you’re seeing in the park is the result of iron bacteria, so-called because they use iron, rather than oxygen, during their respiration. In their life cycles, soluble iron from the soil gets turned into insoluble iron (‘rust’, which appears as orange/red slime). This whole process could be a byproduct of all the organic compounds being provided by the multitude of geese and ducks in the park, which will of course encourage growth of microorganisms, which will then use up all the oxygen, allowing anaerobic bacteria in turn to then take control of the ecosystem.

We then asked a follow-up question, about the oily sheen that is sometimes seen in the same areas, and we got this answer:

In this case the oily sheen is the result of the iron bacteria, but rather than hydrocarbons being produced by the bacteria, it could be the bacteria themselves; they’ll proliferate madly but as things become tough they’ll start to die and break down, resulting in an oily sheen. That, or the products they make take on the resemblance of being hydrocarbons or oil, but actually aren’t.

So it looks like Rowntree Park is neither the burial place of a prehistoric iron-working site (a great disappointment to some people!) nor the potential location of Yorkshire’s biggest oil field (a great relief to us all!) But it is fascinating what can emerge if you ‘Ask a Scientist.’

Thank you, Gary and Lucy!

We’re in the news!

Our lovely Easter Egg trail was covered in the local paper: many thanks to Christine and the Younger Friends group for all their hard work – and especially to Hilary and family for getting stuck in (and wearing the bunny ears!) :