A “magical” secret forest in the middle of one of Europe’s biggest industrial parks is being opened up to the public.
The ancient six-acre woodland belongs to the eco-friendly Jones Village Bakery and is located next door to their new 140,000 sq ft super bakery on Wrexham Industrial Estate.
They have created a nature trail and installed benches where people can go for a walk and relax during their lunch hour or their morning break.
As well as being an amenity for their own staff, the family firm are keen for workers from other companies on the estate to enjoy a taste of the countryside.
Erlas Black Wood was once part of a large area of medieval hunting parkland before most of the land was industrialised during the Second World War.
The broad leaf woodland includes native species like oak, ash and willow and it’s known there are tawny owls nesting there, as well as being an important habitat for greater crested newts.
Beneath the canopy of trees, the woodland is carpeted with an array of colourful plants including Wood Anemones, Wild Garlic, Dog Violets and Early Purple Orchids.
The bakery have also created three ponds to provide a haven for the wildlife and there are plans to set aside part of the site for allotments where bakery staff can grow their own fruit and vegetables.
Nature lover Jaz Robinson, a new product development technologist, has now also been appointed as the Village Bakery’s environment champion and her role includes managing the wood.
She said: “I love the countryside and I live on a smallholding where we also have an ancient woodland so I was delighted to be involved in this fantastic project.
“It’s a great place to come at lunchtime because you can switch off from work and be at one with nature.
“Once you’re a few metres into the woodland you would never believe that you’re actually in the middle of a massive industrial estate.
“It’s a chilled and relaxing space with paths and benches where you can sit and have your lunch.”
According to managing director Robin Jones, being as environmentally friendly as possible was an important part of their ethos.
He said: “We’re incredibly lucky to have Erlas Black Wood which is a green oasis bang in the heart of Wrexham Industrial Estate which is the second largest in the UK and one of the biggest in the UK.
“We’ve put a marked nature trail around it where people can come and enjoy the fantastic flora and fauna.
“At the moment we’ve got amazing blue bells and the wild garlic’s in full bloom so the aroma from it is absolutely stunning.
“It’s incredibly quiet in the middle of the woods when you’re under the lovely green canopy.
“We’ve got huge varieties of trees and mature woodland, along with some amazing wildlife.
“I’d encourage anybody, on their morning break or lunch break to go for a wander, have a look around.
“This is the perfect antidote for stress and any mental health problems. If you’re having a stressful day, walk down here, Ash Road South, go in on the designated footpath and within 50 metres you are in an oasis of calm and it really does soothe the mind.
“It’s an opportunity to get away from your laptops, your mobiles and tablets and enjoy the world of nature.
“The only thing I ask you to do is to take your litter home with you. All we want you to do is to leave is your footprints.
“We’ve given the woods to the community on a 50 year lease and my message is: ‘Please come and enjoy it, come and see what’s on your doorstep’.
“It’s probably one of Wrexham’s best kept secrets but it truly is a really magical place and we want more people to come and discover it.”