I hope you and your families and friends are all coping in these strange constrained times. The Porter Valley has been a lifeline for us and I have made the most of the amazing spring weather.......getting out daily and enjoying sights and sounds rarely noticed before in a too hectic life, and spotting more birds up close than I ever remember. There were 9 Mandarin ducklings on Nether Spurgear Dam in Endcliffe this morning; buzzards high in the sky; baby wrens lost on my balcony, and the continuous chatter of a chiffchaff in the sycamore tops outside my windows.
Now you may have been thinking Friends of the Porter Valley had shut down action altogether for the duration ….but no, some of the committee and members have been looking to the future and planning positive activity. So here is an update for now, and there will be others as we have news to give you. Please tell us your news too and send your photos!
Conservation work: The Council has just refused again to let Friends groups do any practical outdoor work but we are prepared for the go ahead when it comes. There are locations needing attention, and we know what social distancing and other precautionary arrangements we need to have securely in place to guarantee safety for volunteers and the public. Rules and risk assessment are drafted and ready to deploy when we can “go”but it will certainly be different from our usual arrangements.
Walks and talks are suspended as you all know, and it is difficult to see how we can run them if 2 metre social distancing is still essential. But it would be good to have at least the November AGM and talk. Fingers crossed!
Maintenance continues. The valley requires ongoing care. The Parks Department has coped surprisingly well with decimated front line staff numbers and unfamiliar manpower from the Botanical Gardens and elsewhere. Some repairs are being done by the professionals: the blocked Wire Mill goit will at last see a digger shift the sludge and branches so that the dam can be fed. We have continued to act as the guardian of the valley, spot trouble, and call on Parks to act.
Visitor experiences: Littering, fly tipping and unsociable behaviours crop up very occasionally from time to time but on the whole the valley has seen cheery cooperative encounters and new trails and discoveries. Families have built dens, paddled in the brook, installed rope swings, and erected stone art works as can be seen in these pictures.
New visitors have been astonished by its beauty and bought our Walking Booklet, cards and reports so that they can explore more effectively. Family Activities sheets will shortly be available as downloads from the website for Forge Dam/Whiteley Woods and Endcliffe Park thanks to the creativity of members Caroline Egglestone and Sue Turner.
Ann Lesage FoPV Chair