Itching to get going this year!!

We are getting close to the fun bit of the year. That time of the year where we can start clearing out the wildflower glades, cutting back, and generally putting in the work for next year. I have a rough plan but more of this later.

Today we welcomed Mitch to the team (thanks for the biscuits) and snipped back brambles between Berrybanks and the Cawston Underpass.

The underpass has had some unnecessary words written on it. We painted over the offending scrawl and colour-matched to cover the rest, next time.

Loads of people have commented on how much better it is, so we want to keep it looking good.

We also replaced a couple of missing geocache containers.

The geocaching trail is complete again with all 12 containers back in place. The caches have been found a total of 1,093 times since we set it up at the start of this year.

Here is the rough plan for the autumn and winter. Nothing is set in stone and everything is changeable…

  • Make Potford Dam wildflower glade larger and seed with wildflower seed mix
  • Develop the hedge next to the middle round bench
  • Develop the hedge and path next to the wildflower meadow
  • Open up the tree canopy to let more light in, especially around the benches
  • Create a clearing on the south-west side of the Cawston Bridleway bridge and seed with Kidney Vetch to try and attract the endangered Small Blue butterfly
  • Cut the path back hard in cuttings to make higher and drier ground available in winter
  • Put up new birdboxes and fix damaged boxes
  • Increase birdfeeder wildflower glade in size slightly northwards.
  • Make underpass wildflower glade slightly larger and seed with wildflower seed mix
  • Reset the missing benches in the quadrant
  • Set the benches in the triangle

That lot should keep us busy and give us a fantastic path next year. We are going to start keeping the path edge shorter throughout next summer so it doesn’t feel quite so tight as everything starts to fill in.

Next week we are at the southern end hopefully putting in the triangle benches.

Until then!

Paul

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We Broke Through!!

We had a last minute change of plan. The triangle of benches are ready but we just couldn’t get them on-site today.

So we worked on the secondary path south of the birdfeeder clearing. We broke through and we now just need to wait until later in September to really clear it out and make a decent wildlife hedge along the edge.

Remember, it is all about the edge and sunshine, and a very mixed and different aged canopy of trees above, to support a biodiverse amount of wildlife.

According to The Wildlife Trust, the canopy needs lots of gaps to allow sunshine in, wildflowers and grasses then grow, insects move in, birds move in and mammals move in.

Plus, it creates a smashing there-and-back non-linear walk with super views across the wildflower meadows.

Great day today, but this really made it…

Victoria baked a super lemon drizzle cake and we just had a picnic!! The amount of people who came past and had a look of “WOW!!” in their eyes was incredible.

If you want to join in – you know the drill. Just page back on previous blogs if you need a reminder but “biscuits” feature a lot!!

Next week we are between the Cawston Underpass and Berrybanks just knocking back the path.

Until next time!

Paul

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A little bit of sunlight makes such a difference…

We had another good old poke about in the path that runs on the Cawston side of the main path.

What we are trying to do is create a second 225 metre path along the edge of part of the greenway. This creates a better there-and-back walk for everybody and breaks up a totally dead zone. The tree canopy has been allowed to become far too dense and nothing can grow underneath it. It needs to be thinned out and different trees allowed to grow to vary the structure. This will mean a much more healthy and biodiverse path, great views from the new route, and loads more wildlife.

We now have butterflies chasing around, spiders making webs and birds flitting in and out from the wildflower meadow.

Great views, too.

Coffee and cookie break at the halfway point.

We can develop a wildlife-friendly hedge along this bit in September.

Flora and fauna spotted:-

Next week we are replacing the smashed-up bench with something that is a bit of fun and practical.

See you next week!

Paul

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Week One of the School Holidays

A gentle workday today with just a litter pick and snipping back bramble, from Potford Dam to the Cawston Bridleway clearing, which is about half a mile. Mike also snipped back nettles at Berrybanks.

A lot of the fast growing plants like nettles are wilting badly and falling into the path. Too hot and a lack of rain, probably.

We also dragged a picnic bench up the bank and back into its place!!

Luckily, because we spent a lot of time reinforcing it a few weeks ago, it doesn’t appear to be damaged.

The quadrant of benches made for the youth to sit and do their thing has been vandalised. We are not fixing this until September. Maybe if anyone knows who is vandalising the benches, they can have a word – these people are spoiling it for themselves as well as everyone else.

Flora and fauna spotted

That’s really it for this week. Still caught up in having to do remedial repairs, which is a little irritating, but hey-ho!! We all have a laugh and stuff, doing what we do.

We have loads of stuff planned for after September but you will have to wait and see. It’s all good stuff and making the path more and more interesting.

Please patron us a couple of quid a month if you like the path and what we are doing. It keeps us in coffee and biscuits. But way more importantly, if you need to connect with people, have a bit of conversation, do something with purpose and meaning, find a bit of mojo, or whatever, you are more than welcome to join us in this great adventure.

Until next week!

Paul

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Small Step Backwards for a Huge Step Forwards

There is something that has not been sitting well with me for a while now. Whilst I think we are 99% on the right track, there is something that I eluded to a couple of weeks ago.

We seem to have developed into a huge green tunnel.

What we need is loads of open views and areas that look across Cawston and the other way across Lawford Heath.

I went to the new bit of the Lias Line today to just kinda refresh my thoughts and get some new ideas. The amount of space that is open and offering superb views is incredible.

This is the way to go on our bit.

Today we carried on with trying to open up the views and it was tough going. Brambles two inches thick and so much dead wood.

But the rewards are there for all to see. A beautiful wildflower meadow full of bees and butterflies.

I think we need to move away from the hidden path, and the vandalism that seems to have bugged us this year, and make it much more open.

Flora and fauna spotted this week-

That’s it for this week. A very tough workday and hardly any photos. But we have a clear focus and add into that, the wildflower meadows, and we are onto a Sustrans led direction that will see us right.

Until next week!

Paul

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What a Crazy Few Months!!

You would think that with 13 years of doing this, we would sort of know what we are doing… But we are forever getting curveballs thrown at us and the ‘plan’ has to be totally fluid to cope with all the things out of our control.

It’s been a challenging and sometimes emotionally frustrating few months, but we seem to have come out of the other end if it.

It’s nice to see our wildflower meadow at Potford Dam has matured from an annual cornfield meadow, into a perennial meadow. It is so much better for the wildlife and it is now able to look after itself.

We continued to make ‘windows’ along the green corridor. Massively important to get dappled sunlight onto the path to encourage wildflowers and wildlife, and I want a piece of that wildflower meadow out there!!!

It also makes the path feel less hemmed-in and less claustrophobic.

Kyle joined us to get a few more DofE volunteer hours under his belt and we all enjoyed a coffee and cookie half way through the morning.

Hopefully we will be putting our new benches in next week or the week after. It’s gonna be a good one!!

Flora and fauna spotted this week…

Feel free to join us in any capacity. Bring biscuits and we will love you forever… If you can afford a couple of quid a month, bung it our way via the Patron link above. But seriously, I know it is extremely hard to put a happy face on and be all outgoing when life is getting tough for so many people. We are always here, laughing at each other and just rubbing along doing our thing. The offer to join us is always there.

Until next week!

Paul

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Flip-Flop

I am not normally one to dither and hesitate, but today I found myself flip-flopping about what we are doing.

Three things were on my mind – something that Michael Drummond from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said some 13 years ago – Always make sure your results are greater than your efforts. IE: Don’t waste your time of stuff that will give you a poor result.

Someone from Sustrans said that we should create “windows” so people don’t feel trapped in a huge green corridor.

And lastly, don’t start upsetting the biodiversity unnecessarilly.

We are looking at an area at the bottom of an embankment and wondering if we can do something better with it. It’s about 225 meters in length and has a nice flat base. When we went down there, it is totally dead. Nothing is growing, it is dark and shaded, and there is no sign of any animal life.

We pushed along the flat bottom, clearing a few scrappy branches, and cut a few windows.

Wow!!! The sunlight came flooding in and the meadow next-door is literally buzzing with bees and butterflies.

We are just going to keep poking around to see if a bit of effort on this bit will give us a great result.

The Potford Dam wildflower mini-meadow is now it it’s fourth year and is now pretty much self-sufficient.

This is a good example of what seemed like a lot of effort for little return initially, but has turned into a huge return, so I guess instant results are not necessarily what we are after, but some sort of result.

Wildflowers spotted:-

Mike chopped back the vegetation coming onto the path around Berrybanks, so good work there to keep the path open.

That’s about it for this week. Same place next week to see if we have a viable winter project.

Paul

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Underpass (Bilton Grange Takeover II)

They say that the best ideas often come out of the blue, but in this case, a fantastic idea came out of the grey!  It was a grey rain-laden sky which forced some of us Cawston Greenway volunteers to shelter under the underpass while we had our coffee break, one Wednesday morning.  The underpass, whilst being perfect for shelter, had a neglected feel about it: dirty, damp and definitely in need of some attention.  As we stood there drinking coffee, the conversation veered into how we could engage a group of School Leavers to ‘give something back’ to the community as part of their Leavers’ Programme.  Jokingly, I said, ‘Well, they could always do this’ and pointed to the walls of the underpass.  And that, is exactly what they did…

Over three days in June, 50 Year 8 Leavers from Bilton Grange Prep School, led by the Head of Art, Mr Green and the Head of Year, Mr deBruin, beavered away on the underpass to create a fantastic new mural.  Under the guidance of Mr Green, the children had looked at the history of the Greenway and of the Rugby area.  They researched famous Rugbeians, the sport of rugby, local iconic buildings and the flora and fauna of the area. Working in teams, they prepared the surfaces by painting them with primer.  Another team added sky and land, while a different team sketched out the different parts of the mural.   A final group added the detail and finishing touches to the designs, and a once drab, dingy underpass was transformed into a bright and welcoming environment.

When you’re next passing through, see if you can spot the following elements:

Guy Fawkes’ House

Rugby School, The sport of Rugby

Various modes of transport

Famous Rugby sculptures

A homage to Lewis Carroll

Armistice Day

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

The Clock Tower and Market Place

The Macready Theatre

Rugby’s inquisitive minds

Praise for the NHS (the children revamped an excellent mural already in place)

Shrek/troll (nothing to do with Rugby necessarily, but don’t all bridges have trolls under them?!)

Huge thanks and congratulations to all involved but particular thanks to Mr Green for his vision for the mural and his organisation.

Well done all – you’ve done a fantastic job!

Victoria Dodsley (volunteer)

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Windows

This week we looked for the pond next to the new development. I don’t think it is close enough to work into the path. However, we found ourselves next to a wonderful wildflower meadow.

Whilst we cannot go into it, we can look at it. The idea will be to create windows in the hedgerow to stop and admire the views, wildflowers and wildlife.

We did a bit of butterfly spotting whilst we were at it.

Underpass blog to follow. Loads of other stuff bubbling away.

Until next week!

Paul

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Catching Up!!

Please click on the Dino Trail tab above and see the amazing work that Sophie C has done to earn her Duke of Edinburgh award. I am very impressed.

The picnic benches are all re-stained and had the weak points sorted. I feel like we have been playing catch-up with all the recent silliness with them, but we seem to be in a better place now.

Looking forward, we have a new bench area going in by Max O, who is doing his Duke of Edinburgh. This will replace the bench that got smashed up. We have an exciting workday next week where we try to bring in a new pond, that has been created by the developers in the new bit of Cawston. But the real icing on the cake will be a project headed up by Victoria. I have loads of photos but saving them all for next week…

I will catch up with all the other DofE youngsters this week and get Sunday workdays sorted.

Wildflowers spotted…

It’s all getting a bit exciting and plans are afoot to create a poppy and cornflower meadow at the Potford Dam clearing, we will try to get a bit more diversity with the nettles on the southern end, and just keep releasing trees from scrub to help them to flourish.

It’s going to be a big one next week…

Until then!

Paul

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