The ‘Fairy Lady of York’, Tracy Ostle, is bringing a sprinkle of magic to the Foss…
Located just over the bridge on Heworth Green through the blue pedestrian gate is the entrance to the ‘Fairy Trail’ – where you will find fairy houses, fairy doors and more.
Created by Tracy, the Fairy Trail has been bringing positivity and joy to the community.
During lockdown, Tracy had been taking walks down the river path by the Foss when she came across some fairy doors on trees. Inspired by what she saw, Tracy created a ‘nut bar’ from bits of wood in her garage and put it down there.
Then amazingly she got a response – in the nut bar appeared a little stamped envelope addressed to Mr Squirrel asking if they could take their order of nuts!
“That was kind of the start,” Tracy said. “I started to make more of them for friends and then it just developed and developed.
“It’s like therapy for me, I love making them.”
After she had made several fairy houses and wasn’t sure what to do with them, Tracy started dotting them down by the river “for a laugh”.
“It just started as a bit of fun,” Tracy said. Then “people started to like it.”
“You walk down there and generally people seem so happy.”
“We’re just trying to make a really nice area for the families to enjoy. I’ve never had children but to see the little faces saying ‘I’ve found another one!’ it’s lovely. It’s a joy for me it really is.”
Pixie partner helps out
Tracy makes the fairy houses herself, along with ‘pixie partner’ Mark helping out.
The larger fairy houses can take four to five hours to build, while the smaller ones can take up to just one hour. The houses are made from recycled materials, with a lot of the wood being utilised from down the river Foss itself.
Some of the fairy houses include the ‘Green Elf’ pub, ‘Roberto’s’ ice cream shop, a fairy post office and even a kennel containing poo bags for any dog-walkers passing by.
Unfortunately, the Fairy Trail hasn’t just attracted families and positivity but also vandalism too. Fairy houses have repeatedly gone missing or been destroyed. “There’s one floating up the river apparently.”
But Tracy takes it in her stride. “I think the thing is just to carry on and not let them win. I feel quite sad that they’re in the position to do that.”
Tracy re-made one of the houses that had been destroyed and “it’s got a little CCTV sign on it for a laugh.”
Police have got involved and are now patrolling the area, and also the community has come together to watch out for and report any broken fairy houses.
Buy a fairy house
Visitors to the trail have also been leaving their own touches to the Fairy Trail, such as hanging charms, fairy doors – and recently even a fairy scuba diving club! Tracy wholeheartedly encourages any additions; “Please do!”
You can also get your own personal fairy door to be attached to the fairy door gallery…
And there’s big plans ahead for the future of the Fairy Trail…
Tracy got involved with the Groves Association who suggested getting funding.
She then linked with other groups like The River Foss Society. “There’s a litter-picking group that doing amazing work down there, clearing it to make it a more respectful area. Just make it more utilised and enhances a beautiful little walk.”
Tracy is also planning to have a printable trail map, create seating areas, plant snowdrops and bluebells, and conjuring up ideas for kids craft areas. “On bonfire night, Halloween you could do something fun there, and Christmas.”
Last year Tracy did a kids treasure hunt – socially distanced and in time slots – and raised £105 for The Island charity, which helps vulnerable children. “Anything we can make it goes to The Island charity.”
If you would like one of these fairy houses for yourself – you’re in luck! The No. 3 café in Heworth is currently displaying some of Tracy’s fairy houses for purchase throughout the month of May.
Tracy is always looking for more volunteers, and encourages anyone who would like to help out to get in touch. She says, “anyone that wants to do anything contact me on the Facebook page – the more the merrier.”
To keep up to date with the Fairy Trail head over to its dedicated Facebook page here.