Families and nature enthusiasts must stay off a dangerous path at Drews Pond Wood, the volunteers who look after Devizes only nature reserve have warned. 

Some 17 trees along the streamside walk were blown down during storms last Friday night.

Stuart Hislop, leader of the Drews Pond Wood Project, said: “We have had to close off the stream path, as it is simply too dangerous for people.

“Despite the signs we put up, people have been going down, some of them with children.

“It is going to take weeks to clear everything and we are not in a financial position to fund the work.

"We are going to need quantities of aggregate and timber and a small dumper. We will need to start from scratch to rebuild the walk, which took us years to create in the first place.

“I reckon it will cost at least £4,000 to carry out the work.”

But he said: “The disaster is not all bad news.

"Most of the trees that came down are poplars, which are not a native species, so they will be replaced by more appropriate ones. But the poplars brought down young elders, which is a shame.

“We are most concerned over the safety issue. We are appealing to people to stay away until we can make it safe.”

The Drews Pond Wood Project was set up when Roundway Hospital closed in the early 1990s and the woodland was given to the town council by the NHS.

A band of volunteers made it accessible and the project was commended in the South West in Bloom competition for three years in a row.

Last year, the group raised enough money to buy the nearby orchard and it is already earning its keep by providing apples for juicing. However, that source of revenue is not enough to finance the emergency work.

Anyone who would like to help can contact Mr Hislop on 07853 299074, leave donations at the Southgate Inn or send an email to stulornaeve@yahoo.co.uk.