Sunday, 25 June 2017

Brash burning at Styal on Sunday 25th June 2017: 'As Nice as Mice'

Seven of us were out on a slightly cloudy and occasionally drizzly morning to do the brash burning that the group had spurned last week in favour of balsam bashing. As we found out, a bit of moisture from above was actually quite welcome today!

Due to the presence of the disease Phytophthora ramorum, almost 100 mature larch trees have been recently felled in the woods, and the job of burning the brash is a big one! We set up two fires which didn't take long to catch amid the dry wood we gathered from the floor.

Karin lobs a big 'un onto the flames
At morning break we spied the first two of three mice that we'd encounter during the day: the first briefly, but the second enjoyed a small amount of cake that was dropped on its 'front doorstep' in front of a sheltered hole under a tree stump.

The fires reached a scorching temperature, and we were glad of the odd rain shower that both cooled us down and helped to contain the heat of the fires. It certainly wouldn't have been much fun doing this in the searing sunshine of last weekend.

The third mouse comes out for a feed
After lunch another mouse came out to watch our work (or maybe it was to feast on some of the undergrowth) and the fires got even hotter. We had to keep a constant watch for embers popping out onto the surrounding leaf litter and trying to set fire to it.

Two hot fires, and less brash than at the start of the day
At 2pm we stopped feeding the fires to give them over an hour to burn down before Craig the ranger returned. We'd cleared a large area, although there's still quite a bit left.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Balsam bashing in the woods at Styal on 18th June 2017

Six of us joined Colin Gorner, Styal's Head Ranger, today to work at Oxbow, in a sunspot, to (we thought) do some woodland clearance where the larch trees had been cut down recently.  Thankfully, on account of the searing heat Colin offered us an alternative of balsam clearing in a nice shaded area.  Guess which we chose?

Before break we were clearing an area on steep banking which had previously been worked on, so it was very patchy.  Over break we were joined by several dogs and one in particular didn't want to leave even coming back after it had been carried away.  After break we moved across the footpath to work by the river in a patch of balsam that was never-ending plus plenty of nettles and lots of stings for everyone. By the end of a very hot day we had cleared a large area but there is plenty more still to do.  

Thanks to Colin for moving the work site and for supplying us with additional water (much appreciated) and also to my fellow volunteers for not getting themselves killed or injured whilst I was stand-in leader. 


Monday, 12 June 2017

Bracken bashing at Lyme Park on 11th June 2017

Ten eager volunteers met the ranger in the car park at Lyme Park this week.  The task was to clear the bracken threatening to swamp the recent planting undertaken after the clearance of rhododendron.  As we have spent many workdays removing the dreaded rodi we were well acquainted with the site and it was great to see the new oak, beech, cherry and ash that have been planted and to further aid in the area's return to native British woodland.

A previous group of volunteers had been out with the slashers but had made a lacklustre attempt, barely clearing six inches around the saplings and missing out many entirely.  We however ploughed in with gusto, wielding the three-foot long slashers with great aplomb and clearing a minimum of five feet around each tree giving them plenty of breathing space.  After we had completed the clearance around the planting we made the steep hike to a path that was being swamped by bracken and had a go at that, clearing an impressive length and only calling it a day when the rain set in.

The leader on the day forgot to provide cake much to the dismay of all concerned and after due ribbing promises never to do it again (!)


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Thistle thrashing at South Head Farm on 4th June 2017

Three of us visited the High Peak today for a day's thistle thrashing with rangers Shane and Myles.  We were working near South Head Farm and on the way there fixed Marita's plaque to a tree guard protecting one of three oaks we planted in Coldwell Clough in April 2015 in her memory.

After we arrived at South Head Farm (the Chairman's first visit!) we loaded up a trailer with old fence posts.  Shane said these couldn't be burnt at the farm but had to be taken to Edale to be disposed of!

After elevenses in the farm's mess room (at which we all tucked into Daniel's Jaffa Drizzle Loaf) we began the day's main task - cutting down thistles in an adjacent field.  It was a very scenic worksite with Mount Famine, South Head and Brown Knoll framing the view.  Shane explained that the purpose of removing the thistles was for the safety of the sheep that will soon be grazing the meadow.  The plants' spikes can cut the sheep's mouth and lips and they can contract the orf virus through the lacerations.

One or two showers passed through before and after lunch but a prolonged heavy downpour at 3pm meant we stopped work shortly afterwards.

Daniel Black

Monday, 22 May 2017

Fence removal at Styal on Sunday 21st May 2017

Fourteen of us ventured to Styal to remove fencing with some members of the Chester and Merseyside groups. A small group had to be rescued by Neil after getting lost en route to the site (sorry guys, I can make cakes but am directionally challenged!) and then we all set to work removing masses of wire fencing.
Christine and Neil dismantle the old fence
We raced through the area that Colin had planned for us to tackle, with a short break for cupcakes made by my wonderful nieces.

Neil clearly advertises the group while everyone else blurredly eats cake
By dinner we had completed the whole area and Colin found us more fencing to fight for the afternoon. There was much wrestling of wire, fighting with undergrowth and baling twine - thanks Jenny for bringing her pen knife. Neil showed us a new game of playing trampoline on rolls of wire and Tricia looked like she had been fighting with bears!
Neil bounces vigorously on the rolls of old wire
Thanks to everyone who worked incredibly hard in pretty humid weather. It was a hard day but we accomplished great things.

Hope to see you all soon


Thursday, 18 May 2017

MNTV social: walk and meal at Lower Withington on Thursday 18th May 2017

Eight of us met in the carpark of the Red Lion at Lower Withington, with enough time to pre-order our 'after walk' meal, and get ourselves ready for a 7pm departure.

The route had been found by Kate on the '' website and was a fairly flat circular walk of 3.7 miles, across fields, on farm tracks and quiet country roads, with beautiful views and only 5 or 6 stiles to navigate on the way round.

It was a lovely evening and we stopped fairly soon after setting off, to pose under the beautifully carved owl by the communal green on Trap Street.
We then had a fairly leisurely walk, admiring various beautiful houses along the route, and stopping for a while to admire the Jodrell Bank telescope in the distance on a couple of occasions.
It was lovely to see everyone chatting as we walked along, particularly as we were a mixed group of MNTVers and other friends, some of whom hadn't met before.
We managed to finish our walk bang on schedule, arriving back at the Red Lion at 8.30pm. After a quick change of footwear, we went in to order our drinks and pay for our meal, which arrived very shortly afterwards and everyone agreed, was delicious.
Thanks to Kate for finding the walk for us and coming along to join us amidst her packing and moving house activities. Also to Andy who, having reccied the walk with Sue the previous week, became the default leader, checking the route on his iphone as we went along.
Thanks to everyone for coming along, it was really nice to see you all:-)

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Fence removal at Lyme Park on Sunday 14th May 2017

Ten of us met in the main car park at Lyme before Craig, one of the Lyme Rangers,  arrived to tell us where we would be working.
Craig explained that there was a long run of  about 600metres of fencing, wire and old posts, that needed removing at the Deer Sanctuary along East Drive near Caters Slack.  A short run of the fencing had already been removed and new stock fencing fitted, so the deer could safely jump over the fencing to get onto Caters Slack, a large grassy area, which will be home to some Highland cattle and Aberdeen Angus cattle once all the new stock fencing has been fitted.
We squashed ourselves into a couple of cars and drove up to the deer sanctuary to start the work. We had been pre-warned to wear long trousers and tuck them into our socks and long sleeved tops, because it was tick season and, being near the deer sanctuary, it was advisable that we protected ourselves as much as possible!!
It was a lovely day(mainly) but, during the morning, we were aware of a large grey cloud coming our way!!
Just before it arrived, most people went to sit in the cars to stay dry. Karin and Sue however, decided to don their waterproof clothing, and stick it out! The rain, with a bit of hail, passed fairly quickly, then we were all back out working in the sunshine.
Craig  used his tractor during the afternoon to help loosen some of the stubborn posts, so we could then remove them.
We all worked hard, with laughs along the way, and had finished removing the barbed wire, wire and fenceposts by 3pm.
It was a good day and we were pleased that we'd managed to get it all done:-)
Thanks to Karin and Adrian for the photos.