Hello Conservation Volunteers
Thank you to everybody who came along for our final work morning of 2023 where we met at Forge Dam.
As we all trooped down the valley looking like castoffs from Snow White and the Seven dwarves to any passersby, carrying an assortment of mattocks, pickaxes, spades, and forks, (not forgetting the wheelbarrow!), the drop off point for the first group was at what has become a very large plot of invasive snowberry. The forecast was good for our first attempt to dig some of it out i.e. no frost, so the ground was soft and diggable, albeit very claggy, sticking annoyingly to the tools and soles of our boots - we were all two inches taller at the end of the morning! The aim is to dig it out complete with roots so it will not regrow, but it is a tough job, not helped as some roots have wrapped themselves around nearby tree roots. A start has been made though and we will see how much of this patch regrows next year but there is so much more to be done in the future.
The second group stopped just a stone's throw further along at the path which goes up to the old Health Authority. The path was covered in leaves and debris making it very slippery, but Linda and Stuart got to work sweeping it all away to leave a clean path. We know the path is part of Linda's regular running route so it's now all clear for her to run off all the Christmas turkey and pud on Boxing Day!
The final group was the drainage crew who made their way to the bottom of the bridle path where a blocked drain had created a large dam spreading across the path. This is a rather peculiar drain with a prominent large diameter pipe with little water coming out it and a smaller more hidden pipe at the side where more water usually comes out, but when rodding either one of the two pipes the rod always emerges at the far end of the other pipe! Having cleared this drain, the crew walked back on the other side of the river finally stopping at the goit which once again needed a good clear out.
Meanwhile at Forge Dam, Ann had been selling more Christmas wreaths, cards, and calendars.
Mandy as usual provided the homemade snacks, this time delicious and festive spicy oat biscuits with raisins and cranberries (some of us got two!)
The final stop before returning for a coffee for the snowberry crew was down in the river to wash the clinging mud off all the tools and boots!
So as 2023 draws to an end we can look back at what has been accomplished this year: the usual balsam pulling and goit clearing; completion of the hawthorn whip planting (and also mulching them all in torrential rain!); dead hedge building; the railings on the cobbled path having the rust removed, primed, undercoated, and a clean white topcoat applied; drainage at Porter Clough cleared after the storms; drainage around Forge Dam path fixed; clearance of cherry laurel and rhododendron; reducing the height of the beech hedge near the cafe and planting more beech saplings in the gaps; installation of a new bench on the viewpoint overlooking Forge Dam; new information board in Festival Woodland; clearing overgrown vegetation at Shepherd Wheel; starting restoration of the grass verges at Bingham Park with the installation of post and rope fencing, and wildflower seed and plug planting (unfortunately the second sowing was washed away in the storms)...for starters!
We'll be taking a break on Boxing Day (our usual Tuesday) so our first work morning of 2024 is on Thursday 11th January 2024. An email will be sent out nearer the time with details.
Finally, thank you to everybody who has helped on the work mornings throughout the year, we hope to see you all again in 2024. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
A Selection of photos from the work morning
Volunteers snaking their way down the valley, John at the back with the wheelbarrow!
Working on the snowberry patch
Mandy: "You dig and I'll pull"
At the end of the morning
Stuart and Linda path clearing
Linda's running path all clear!
Flooded path before clearing the drain
Martin and Tony doing a final clearance of leaves after the pipe has been cleared