News and Events


Harding’s Pits Bio-Blitz

Come and help us celebrate the Doorstep Greens 20th birthday by recording all the organisms that live there!

We want to record plants, birds and animals large and small. We are particularly interested in the invertebrates including (butterflies, moths, bees, spiders, flies etc) because we have realised we have species we didn’t previously know lived locally.

Bring the whole family and learn how to use ID apps and other identification tools.

Experienced naturalists will lead each session.

Preliminary timetable (may change):

9:30 – 10:30 Birds
10:45 – 11:45 Moths
12:00 – 13:00 Flies
13:00 – Lunch
13:45 – 14:45 Bees and Beetles
15:00 – 16:00 Plants
16:00 – 16:30 Data gathering

Each activity will commence at the whale.


Our new “Whale Shelter” is open

After many months of work, starting last summer when we asked local residents to sign-up to support a funding bid to the Borough Council, our new landmark whale was officially opened on 15th June by the recently appointed mayor, Cllr Paul Bland.
The rain held off and the sun shone – we hope it is a positive omen for the future!
The new feature is over 5 metres tall, fabricated in corten steel, whilst the shelter includes a polished oak bench. Like the timber structure that this sculpture replaces, the whale reflects our maritime heritage and a local whaling industry that continued in Lynn until the early 19th century.
But as the Association chairman Rob Archer said at the opening, the figure is also a celebration of whales – an icon of the natural world.
We formally thanked all those who have helped the project happen, including BCKLWN for the grant assistance, Able Engineering for their metalwork expertise and many others who have contributed along the way.
The shelter is accompanied by a new interpretation sign that tells visitors a little about the maritime history on the nearby River Nar, as well as the origins of the whaling industry and the background to the design of the shelter. Thanks go to the King’s Lynn Town Guides for funding the sign.
Alderman Paul Richards spoke to those attending, summarising the wealth of local maritime and industrial history in South Lynn and along the river front.
As we said at the opening – this is a structure provided by local residents, for local residents. We sincerely hope it will be treasured and respected!
RM – June 2024

Click on images to enlarge

Thanks to Chris Neve and RM for the photographs

Enjoy the sights and sounds of Spring down at the Pits

Spring is one of the best times of year to visit Harding’s Pits. Trees and shrubs are covered in blossom and there is a carpet of cowslips on the wildlflower meadow.
The birdsong is also great. You can hear blackcap, chiffchaff, willow warbler and whitethroat as well as blackbird, robin, great tit, chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, wren, dunnock and others.
Our newest resident appears to be Cetti’s warbler (see pic). A classic ‘little brown job’, they have one of the loudest bursts of song you are likely to hear – and a habit of delivering it from a few metres way without ever being seen.


Great British Spring Clean! Saturday 23rd March

As part of the ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ national litter picking event in March, HPCA will be starting their annual workday calendar with a ‘deep clean’ of Harding’s Pits and the surrounding area.
If you want to help keep our local environment tidy – please come along. Gloves, bags and pickers sticks can be provided.
Come to our container (north-west corner of Winfarthing playing fields) at 9.30am, 23rd March.

New Bird Boxes

Now that our 20 year old trees are starting to get big enough, we erected some new bird boxes around the site. And within a few hours they were being visited by potential residents.


More new species recorded at Harding’s Pits!

We often overlook our invertebrate residents at Harding’s Pits, but thanks to the sterling work of HPCA supporter Ellen Archer, we now have records of species that we didn’t even know we had!
Ellen has recorded all three species of skipper butterfly (Large, Small and Essex) and eighteen different types of bee – including the fairly scarce Moss Carder bee. She has also found 12 different spider, 6 grasshopper and 7 hoverfly species!
This may suggest we have been remiss in recording all of our residents in the past – but perhaps more likely, it indicates the importance of creating permanent mixed-habitat sites to support local biodiversity.
2024 will be our 20 year anniversary since we established the Doorstep Green and began to manage the site with nature conservation in mind. Who knows what we might attract to the site in another 20 years!
Thanks again Ellen for your work – and great photographs!

End Of An Era

It was the end of an era this weekend when we said goodbye to Ulysses – our faithful tractor for the last 15 years that we have used in managing the site.
However we have increasingly felt that we lacked the expertise to keep the tractor running efficiently and safely, so we have decided to switch to using smaller equipment in future.
Ulysses has gone to a new home in North Lincolnshire, where new owner Ian plans to set about restoring the machine to its former glory.
Good luck Ian! We look forward to seeing the photographs of the restoration!


New species recorded at Harding’s Pits

Rob Archer has recorded two new bird species for the Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green this spring — Nightingale (top left) and Lesser Whitethroat (top right).   We think they were just passing through — but hopefully they will visit again!

We also have two new butterfly records for the area.   Small Heath (bottom left) at the Pits and Brown Argus at Boal Quay.   These records really underline the importance of maintaining habitat reserves within urban areas.

Tree Planting

HPCA volunteers saw in 2023 with a bit of new tree and shrub planting, with donated or self-grown stock.   In particular we planted a new oak tree in memory of Elizabeth II, our late queen.   It will complement the ‘Cecil Gawthorpe’ oak (commemorating a young lad who died at the site when it was still clay pits in the 1920s), which has now been planted for 4 years and appears to be establishing well.

Preparing for Spring — March 2022

The first cowslips are out on the wildflower meadow, along with lots of plum blossom in the surrounding scrub.   Our first Brimstone and Peacock butterflies were also about in the recent sunshine.   We took the opportunity to do a late winter mow of meadow areas and paths before the flowers all emerge.   Birds are singing and we can listen out for the arrival of our summer migrants.

Thanks to Anna and Jack – Groundwork East

Groundwork is an environment-based federation of charities that have been working across the UK since 1981.   They have tended to work in urban and post-industrial areas and so have not had a high profile in East Anglia.
However, Groundwork East are now established in Essex and Norwich and they recently approached HPCA to see whether we could provide a base for a new project they are starting up aimed at skills development for people who have been unemployed.
We wanted to help and we think there could be lots of scope for Groundwork East to undertake more projects in King’s Lynn and maybe have a permanent presence in West Norfolk.
So, for several weeks, Groundwork project officers Anna and Jack bravely tackled some of our brambles as a project trial — and they have made a great job of revealing some of the trees we have planted along the bus lane frontage.   Thanks both!
We need to add — that we like our brambles at Harding’s Pits!   They provide an important and increasingly scarce habitat for a lot of birds and invertebrates in the town, but sometimes a bit of clearance allows regeneration and more habitat variety.

Tree planting — January 2022


A group of our volunteers planted more trees and shrubs on the site this winter — including seedlings obtained through a County Council initiative.   Species included oak, hornbeam, beech, alder, crab apple, cherry, rowan and hazel.   With our rather variable soils at the Pits it will be interesting to see which species do best.   Although we are proud of the trees we have established on the site, we realise that the meadow areas and bramble scrub are just as important for wildlife, so we are keen to maintain a mixture of habitats and not plant trees over the entire area.

Rat harvesting crab apples — January 2022

We have several fruit trees on Harding’s Pits which a range of local residents seem to appreciate!   However one crab apple, which produces a heavy crop every year, seems to hold its fruit well into the winter.   We think the fruit must need some frosts and winter sunshine before it becomes palatable for birds to eat.   We have seen blackbirds and fieldfare eating the fruit — but recently have noticed another fruit eating resident in the tree — rats!   We have watched 3 or 4 rats climbing to the highest twigs, picking an apple in their mouths and then carefully climbing all the way down, where presumably they eat them on the ground or put them in their larder.   Another example of our resourceful urban wildlife!

The Power of Nature! One local residents heartfelt thanks to the Harding’s Pits volunteers

I wanted to email and tell you how beautiful Harding’s Pits is and how much it has meant to me to be able to exercise there during Covid.   I was born in South Lynn and played there as a child, then my boys played there when they were children, we have crossed it every day to get to work/school and to come home from nights out.   It has always been in my life.   But whilst on lockdown with all the anxieties and difficulties we all faced — walking over that piece of land, seeing the nature, enjoying the peace, has finally prompted me to tell you how grateful I am to all of you for the work you do in keeping it so lovely.   It is brilliant how you have kept all the wildness but make it accessible by the mown cut throughs.
Thank you. Julie

September Workday 2019

September 2019


Hedge Planting

March 2019
A hard days work for 5 of the Harding’s Pits volunteers in planting over 300 mixed hedge plants on the north end of the Pits, near to to the sluice.   Luckily the weather stayed sunny and warm.


Full turnout to spring clean Harding’s Way

March 2019

More than forty bags of rubbish and a variety of discarded items ranging from old bicycles and a carpet to a pair of brand new trainers were garnered by volunteers who joined the Harding’s Pits Community Association’s annual ‘Great British Spring Clean’clear-up on Saturday 23rd March.

Harding’s Pits and the verges along the Harding’s Way bus and cycles route and the surrounding area were thoroughly cleared of rubbish by the 20 volunteers who turned out.   Said organiser and deputy chairman of the Harding’s Pits Community Association (HPCA) Rick Morrish: ‘The fact that people turn out all over the country to work hard at events like these is proof most people care passionately about the environment.

‘It is just sad that many others seem blind to the issues and are prepared to drop litter and dump their refuse even in their own backyard. While we were actually clearing some people threw down cans and wrappers.’

HPCA volunteers carry out regular litter picking rotas every week of the year on the Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green — but for the ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ annual clean up the association extend their work to the surrounding areas as well.

‘Harding’s Pits is a pretty unique area in Lynn.   It’s a great place to see a range of flowers and wildlife, hear birdsong and generally to forget you are so close to the town centre.

‘Lots of people use it — but we do all need to respect and look after these places’

‘We were particularly pleased to welcome several new volunteers and hope they and anyone else who fancies a ‘Green Gym’ work out on a Saturday morning will join us in future. We have monthly workdays between March and November.


Graffiti Art

January 2019
The ‘Great Whale’ — our Harding’s Pits landmark sculpture, (carved by chainsaw artist Ben Platt Mills in 2006 and reflecting the whaling heritage of the nearby River Nar), has recently had an artistic ‘makeover’.

Covering up some of the more banal graffiti, is a rather fetching new colour scheme. It ain’t Banksy — but the site managers do approve!

A nearby tag says ‘Dior’. Dior — if the work is yours, thanks! If you want to come back and finish the scheme – get in touch with us!


Our comments on the Riverfront (Nelson’s Quay) Development Consultation


The Gawthorpe Oak

November 2018
This morning we successfully planted and dedicated a tree in memory of Cecil Gordon Gawthorpe.
His family descendants — Trevor and Dale, Rosie and Sylvia (nephews and nieces) came along and Mike, Phil and John attended.
Cecil Gawthorpe and his family lived in North Lynn.   He disappeared in 1928 having gone out to gather feed for the family’s chickens.   He was later discovered drowned in one of the flooded clay pits that were then a feature at Harding’s Pits.   He was 13 and is buried at the Hardwick Cemetery.


Jane’s Oak Tree

November 2018
A new oak for Harding’s Pits will mark the eleven years of Jane Dearling’s chairmanship of the Harding’s Pits Community Association.   On the last workday of 2018 Jane relinquished the role she has filled so assiduously for so long and set her tree.   Pictured with her are Hugh Rout, webmaster and tractor driver (centre) and Rick Morrish, vice chairman and excavator of planting holes.
Rob Archer is to be the new chairman.
Thanks to Sharon Marks for the photo.  


Annual Report and Minutes 2018

May 2018
HPCA Ltd Annual Report 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018
Another year and another threat from the council to fight.   Yet again we have been involved in the lobbying to protect Harding’s Way from being turned into an all-traffic highway to divert traffic from London Rd.   This is almost an annual event, and we remind ourselves of the County Council’s commitment to keeping it as a bus, cycle and emergency vehicle route only, a commitment we have no reason to doubt.   Nevertheless, the Borough Council still eyes the route as a solution, not only to London Rd pollution, but also to create a route to a proposed redevelopment of the riverfront, a proposal that has many hurdles to overcome before a single trowel is raised. The year has seen a rise in the number of volunteers showing not only interest in Harding’s Pits, but willing to join in the work.   Each brings skills and enthusiasms that encourage ‘old hands’, lifts the burden, refreshes the gene pool and confirms that all we’ve been doing these past years hasn’t gone unnoticed or unappreciated.   Fresh blood is vital to any organisation.   Many, but not all by any means, of the long standing team are not in the first flush of youth, so when it all gets too much it’s good to know there will be enough new people to take up the reins. One of the reasons why we have been able to recruit new helpers is because, this year, we again participated in the Great British Clean Up.   Following on from the successful clean up last year, the Council land beyond the borders of Harding’s Pits adjacent to Harding’s Way accumulates rubbish like nails are attracted to magnets, but the Council seem not to have the resources to keep on top of the land.   So, ably assisted by the splendid and generous response of local media, a work-party was arranged and we have reaped the benefits. Alas there are always vandals and thieves who will want to unsettle the equilibrium.   The whale is frequently targeted by those who would see it go up in smoke, and others who want to see if they can draw the most graffiti.   Sign boards are regularly targeted.   It’s pitiful, dangerous, and a waste of resources.   The gate to the compound was breached so we have had to spend money on new chains and padlocks. Ulysses continues to give sterling service, thanks to the way it, and our other mechanical items, are cared for.   We remain anxious that one day Ulysses will go the way of all flesh, but we only have 9 more years left of the lease, so with luck he will keep going. T’Pits has an amazing quality to endure despite all weathers.   Last year saw weeks of blisteringly hot weather, and this past winter saw weeks of bone-chillingly cold and wet weather.   Each week litter is picked, problems discovered and resolved, and the baton of litter collection passes, often seamlessly, from one to another.   Each month for most of the year, we descend and take it to task cutting, collecting and renewing the growth.   T’Pits responds well and seems to welcome the labour, much as a fruit tree always welcomes a good thrashing in Spring.   It’s a great partnership. Which brings me lastly to the tributes are deserved to the hardy hearty band of volunteers who keep the whole thing going.   Without the reliability of committed volunteers who: keep the machines working, keep the work parties fed & watered, keep the litter down, cut, slash, rake, and go out of their way all through the year to depart from their ordinary routine to join in keeping Harding’s Pits as a much loved, much needed, maintained community resource.   To all who help us in their time and effort, thanks, thanks, and thanks, again, must be due. Jane Dearling Chairman HPCA Ltd 2nd May, 2018   Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the Harding’s Pits Community Association held on 2nd May 2018

1. Present; Hugh Rout, Sue Nulty, Rick Morrish, Phil Avery, Margaret Worledge, John Loveless, Sally Turff, Rob Archer, Mike Nobbs, Jane and Jeremy Dearling

2. Apologies for absence: None

3. Minutes of the AGM held 24th May 2017 were proposed by Margaret Worledge and seconded by Phil Avery

4. Matters arising; a. Sally had asked Carol Tupper if she wanted to be more involved by being a director on the committee, but this was declined. b. Rick Morrish hoped to approach the council for help improving the paths following a diversion across the Pits resulting in heavy wear and tear, but will try to do so during the forthcoming year. c. Mike Nobbs had bought pitchforks and rakes. d. Mike Nobbs hadn’t found a buyer for the hay turner or the old tractor box, but as these are now only scrap, it was felt they might later be used as a block from ingress by those intent upon wickedness. e. Sally Turff said she would contact the group who built the whale to seek their advice regarding its repair.

5. The Chairman’s report was proposed by Hugh Rout and seconded by Margaret Worledge

6. Treasurer’s report was proposed by Sally Turff and seconded by Mike Nobbs.   Subsequent conversation concluded that Sue Nulty would try to help progress how accounts should be presented and Rick Morrish would approach Mary Plant concerning future accounting assistance.   With caution there should just about be enough money in our funds to see us reach the end of the lease without fund-raising, however there are implications for our insurers if we want to hold a public event to fundraise.

7. Issues with HPCA being a limited company arising from Memorandum of agreement and Articles of Association.

8. In order to sell the necessary changes to HPCA practice to volunteers, it was agreed that a social event would go ahead at Russet House by way of thanking them for all their hard work and commitment throughout the year.   Jane Dearling would seek clarification from Russet House about food and drink, and if necessary subsidise the event personally if the committee felt it wasn’t a good use of HPCA funds.   Russet House has been chosen because the Live and Let Live is no longer appropriate to meet there, that following recent events that have increased our numbers it hasn’t the space to accommodate us, and that Russet House have offered us use of their facilities on favourable terms.

9. Election of officers.   Jane Dearling gave notice that she would cease to be a director and committee member at the day after the last work party November 2018, and that the committee have till then to seek a replacement chairman prepared to take on all the tasks she fulfils currently.   All other officers being willing to stand for re-election were reappointed en-block. 10. Close of business


Wild Flower Meadow

September 2018
Late summer is one of the busiest times for the Harding’s Pits Fensibles — the noble band of volunteers who toil to maintain the community green space.   The wildflower meadow which has flourished since the spring has to be cut, and the vegetation raked up and carted away. Unfortunately wildflowers don’t look after themselves.   If they are allowed to wilt and die down and then rot, the resulting mulch will become a solid mass which will add unwanted fertility to the soil — wildflowers do not prosper if the soil is too rich. Regular cutting through the year would be easier, but that would destroy the habitat for the rich variety of wildlife that shares to Pits with human life and if the flower seeds were not allowed to ripen and shed into the soil the quantity of plants would diminish in the following year. So, the experts tell us, we can give the meadow a haircut early in the year before the annual explosion of cowslips after which it must be left to grow, and it does until September.   To be honest over the years we haven’t carried out management as assiduously as we should have done, hence a lot of brute weeds, nettles especially, which of course is an indication of fertility. That’s the growth in the rear of the picture, behind Ulysses, the tractor and his trailer and some of the Fensibles, Sally Turff, Rob Archer, Hugh Rout and Dave Marks.   Part of the meadow having been previously cut by Mike Nobbs using an Allen Scythe and allowed to wilt and dry a bit, Rob, Dave and Hugh prepare to load supervised by Sally.   Big heave, another huge pile goes into the trailer.      

A pitchfork can be dangerous, Dave Marks finds a Health and Safety solution on one of the Pits’ wild crab apple trees.



May 2017

Seated on his plane at Dubrovnik Airport, HPCA secretary Mike Nobbs glanced out of the window and there, trundling towards him across the airport apron was Ulysses, the Pits’ mighty workhorse.

Not Ulysses as we all know and love him — but a gleaming, polished Ulysses, resplendent in a coat of ochre paint.   Had Mike pre-loaded with rather too much Raki for the journey home?   Had Ulysses come to haunt him for abandoning his post at the Pits’ workshop for a hedonistic summer trip?   Was this a reminder of grass to be cut, brambles hacked back?

As the pilot announced take-off Mike took another look, just to be certain, and there sure enough was a Ulysses.   But this one had a more public role, towing the trailer of suitcases from departure lounge to aircraft hold.

Croatia is a country where a Ulysses is properly regarded — maintained in smart livery, contributing to aeronautical efficiency and a tribute to the tourist trade.

Mike cares devoutly for the Pits’ Ulysses.   Ensures he has all he needs to operate smoothly in all the tasks he has to perform and never over-works him.   Wraps him up securely against rain and tempest.   Guards him well, with theft-proof paint on the perimeter fences of his compound and heavy locks and chains at the entry points.

Now vigilance is going to have to be redoubled, lest Croatian thieves should seek him out.

Only Mike and co-pilot Hugh are allowed to drive Ulysses, who celebrated his 60th birthday last year — but he can be viewed on the last Saturday of the month at one of the HPCA workdays.   All are welcome to join in the rest of the work — and then enjoy a convivial lunch.

Some may even be allowed to sit on Ulysses… forest