How wide?

So how wide should the path be? Someone from Sustrans suggested three metres. Cannot remember who it was, and it was a long time ago. I probably have the email somewhere. So why three metres –

1, If people cannot see a good distance ahead they will feel anxious as they walk or cycle.

2, The path gets very puddled in the winter and pushing the edges out gives way to slightly higher ground.

3, Removing the scrubby bramble allows less invasive wildflowers to germinate.

4, It allows walkers and cyclists to share the path without having to fight for the same bit of ground.

We are using the line of trees as a guide to the edge and clearing just behind them, so each tree is free from scrub. I like it and it creates a nice avenue feeling.

Thank you to all of our Patrons. It gives us a warm tingly feeling when people show their appreciation. You know who you are. Just £2, £3 or £5 helps to keep the show on the road. The crowdfunding tab is open again if you would rather help us with a one-off payment rather than a monthly amount. Just click the link above.

Mental Health – Hand-on-heart I can say that the path has saved me from being in a mentally catastrophic place. Whenever I feel low, I walk or mountain-bike the greenway and feel in such a mentally better place. With Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and facebook showing everyone having what looks like a great time, it can be hard on some of us. If you need, come along to a workday, or just pop along for a chat and a coffee (11am). There is always spare coffee and cookies going. You don’t have to do any work and you don’t even have to strike up any conversation because us lot are talking ten-to-the-dozen anyway. The offer is always there, but especially so in December.

I have finally got over my clipart fears and made a map for the Dino Trail. The Geocache labels have also arrived so will get that done this week hopefully. It just gives everyone stuff to do in the holidays.

Click on the Dino Trail tab above and save the map to your PC and print it. It fits a sheet of A4 paper perfectly.

As far as I can tell the R168 Right of Way paths that lead to the Dunchurch Nature Trail (another one of my projects) will survive the mass development that is going to happen. The Dunchurch Nature Trail leads to the National Cycle Network 41, so we are actually connected to the mothership. Nice warm fuzzy feeling knowing that we are not just some random slither of redundant railway path.

Well, that’s it for this week. Thanks for reading and enjoy the path…


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Weekenders Are Back

From next month we will be running a workday on the weekend. The first one will be Sunday 12th December from 10am to 12, and just gives everyone who is at work in the week, a chance to get involved and help out.

We are currently working on the southern section, but moving in a northwards direction, if that makes sense. We are just pushing the edges of the path out so that when it starts to get rainy there is slightly higher dry ground to walk or cycle on.

Looking north before-and-after, and then south before-and-after. We will make a lot of progress with this over the next few weeks.

We also did a litter pick around the benches in the area.

Mostly beer bottles, probably from the summer. Drinking beer down there at this time of year will probably lead to hypothermia!

As always, if you like what we do and cannot physically help out, you can become a Patron and gift us a couple of quid a month. It really helps toward the cost of food for the birds, bird-boxes, wood stain for the benches and other stuff that requires cash payment.

Thanks for reading,


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Two Abreast

One thing that we learned this year and last, is that the path works so much better when it is wide. This is because it feels far less intimidating if people can see 100 metres or so ahead of themselves whilst walking or cycling. It also means people can walk two or more abreast and actually have a conversation and lastly, removing the bramble scrub on the edge of the path means wildflowers pop up and make it much more interesting for wildlife.

Now that we have our three statement wildflower glades, the rest of the autumn and winter will be spent gently pushing out the width and just general maintenance.

We finished the Potford Dam glade and seeded it with a lot of locally harvested seeds and the remains of our bought seed mix. There is a good mixture of perennials and annuals so long-term the wildflower clearings should start to look after themselves. They just need cutting and clearing once a year around September time.

Setting up, views across the heath and our coffee and cookie break.

We cleared out this year’s spent wildflowers and all the bramble before seeding. It will look amazing in the summer and will attract a lot of wildlife.

If you enjoy the greenway please think about supporting us via the Patron link on the right. It helps to cover the cost of food for the birdfeeders, wildflower seed, wood stain for the benches, public liability insurance and everything else that requires actual cash payment.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave any feedback.


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Dino Trail is Back

We have redone the Dino Trail. I have possibly gone too far the other way and made them a bit too camouflaged. I will let your children be the judge. Please pass on their feedback. Just to remind you – there is a crude map in the tabs above (I will get this updated at some point) and every dino is by a bench with a white dino footprint on. There are nine to spot in total.

What we are trying to do is to create three wildflower glades. The idea being that as people walk along the path they suddenly find themselves in an open glade with a picnic bench and a load of wildlife to watch and enjoy.

This is the Potford Dam glade and is on embankment, rather that cutting, so has some lovely views across the heath.

These photos show the ends of the clearing, the actual clearing and the picnic bench and views. We have cleared out this year’s wildflowers and extended it. It worked really well this year and all the seeds will have dropped so next year should be even better

The benches vary greatly. Some are set up for groups and some for just one or two people. Some are picnic style and others just allow a rest.

Basically, we are trying to cater for as many different types of greenway user as possible.

If you like what we do and want to support us, feel free to click on the Patron link. £2 goes towards food for the birds or wood stain for the benches. It just helps to keep the path interesting and varied.



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Birdfeeder Glade Done

A big thank you to those who have given us a little to keep the show on the road via our Patron link on the right. If enough people give us between £2 and £5 a month it means we can keep the bird feeders full and the benches stained, as well as the path full of wildflowers and all the other little things that make it special.

This week we got our birdfeeder clearing seeded with loads of locally harvested seeds and some bought specialist seed mix.

It’s a case of raking, seeding, raking and walking all over the ground to get as much soil contact as possible.

There will be a huge amount of seed in the soil already, but it is good to add new stuff and just move the ground about to kick start germination.

It is also useful to clear away the year’s bramble growth or very few wildflowers will grow next year.

Once we finished this area we had a cuppa and cookie, and then moved south to start on our Potford Dam glade. Much the same really with just clearing out this year’s growth. It is nice doing this one because David, the old ecologist from Sustrans, helped us to set it up a few years back. He even gave us a load of Lady’s Bedstraw and Hedge Bedstraw seeds to sow into it.

A quick look up and down and that was about it for this week. It will be fantastic to have our three statement wildflower glades with benches and enough going on to do a bit of wildlife monitoring and recording next year.


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All about the trees today…

We had a tree pack a couple of years ago from the Woodland Trust. Tiny whips and the protector to go around them. Some have survived and make the edge of our wildflower clearing.

What is not to love… In the summer this will be absolutely full of wildflowers and the wildlife will follow.

A few fungi finds

It’s all about that balance between scrubby bramble, decent wildflowers, a path for walkers and cyclists and catering for the wildlife. I haven’t got a clue if I have this balance right, but we keep trying to do the right thing for everyone and everything. However, we are following what our Management Plan suggests and also what Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is doing.

One of our picnic benches is in this clearing…

Having a week off next week and then seeding the week after. After that, we move on to our wildflower clearing at Potford Dam. Same thing really. Just clear it out and let it come back next year.

Lastly, we found a bloody-nosed beetle at Potford Dam. It was reluctant to get off me so probably enjoying the warmth of my skin.


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This is our MEGA wildflower clearing

This is the big one! Kinda the centre of what we are trying to create.

All of this has to go.

We need to rake off as much of the cuttings as possible and pile them up out of the area. The pile will be used by a vast amount of wildlife for nesting. We remove the cuttings because wildflowers don’t like soil that is rich in nutrients.

We repositioned the birdfeeder stands so there is one on each side of the clearing, cleared all the litter and got the grass around the picnic bench really short with our new electric strimmer, so it is comfortable to sit at.

So why is this at the centre of what we are trying to create? Well, we don’t just want a green path going from A to B. I mean, how boring would that be! What we want is clearings that are bursting with colour and wildlife, plenty of places to sit and enjoy the wildlife, or have a picnic with friends or family, or just a simple cuppa and biscuit. A place to contemplate stuff or just get away from the grind of life for a bit, a place that does not feel too hemmed-in and intimidating. Great views across the heath. Snowdrops and bluebells at the start of the new year to help people to think about the warmer months just around the corner.. Somewhere that is uplifting and relaxing.

To sit at the bench in this clearing and watch the great tits and long-tailed tits darting back and forth to the feeders is just magical.

The path continues at either end of the clearing. Northwards for a more wooded or forestry feel and southwards for a more open grassland feel.

Everyone welcome to join in, and if you like what we do and enjoy the greenway you can click on the Patron link on the right-hand side and help to keep the show on the road. Any amount helps – £2 a month, the cost of a cuppa, anything will be appreciated and gives us a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that we are adding value.


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This is where the magic is made

Normally muggins here is too quick to get going so forgets to take before and after photos. Today I remembered.

This is our biggest wildflower clearing and we need to get rid of all the plants now that the seeds have dropped. The cuttings need to be removed from the area because wildflowers do not thrive well in soil full of nutrients, however, nettles, docs and all the thuggish stuff does.

We managed to clear the south side. Next week we will clear the north side.

The clearing will be twice the size of what we see today. We have our large round picnic bench in the centre and our bird feeders. It’s a good place to be and because it is in a cutting it is pretty much protected from wind and noise.

We will put some more seed mix down on any bare earth just to keep adding to the diversity.

So to recap – we have a statement wildflower clearing on the north side of the underpass, an absolute suntrap and we will put benches in before summer next year. This one, which is the birdfeeder clearing, and Potford Dam which is on embankment so gets good views across the heath and is next on our hit-list to triple in size.

North side of the birdfeeder clearing

All this will be gone next week.

Remember – if you want to join in you are more than welcome. If you just want to pop down and chat about what we are doing, or how you are feeling, or just want to share a coffee and cookie (normally about 11 o’clock), just do it. You can even bring us cookies, biscuits or cakes if you are feeling super generous.

And if you like what we do and enjoy the greenway you can click on the Patron link and help to keep the show on the road. Any amount helps – £2 a month, the cost of a cuppa, anything will be appreciated and gives us a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that we are adding value.


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We Have Merchandise

It is true – we have merchandise that is 100% exclusive to Cawston Greenway and if you enjoy the path you can buy a little memento. So far we have a fridge magnet. I will sort out the shop part of the blog over the weekend.

I quite like it. It is just over 11cm long. It would be great to get a bit of feedback on your thoughts. Next will be Cawston Greenway mugs, hopefully.

This week we cleared the bluebell bank with our new electric strimmer. We have controversy about the bluebells. They are not pure English ones but they maybe are hybrid. They are not pure Spanish ones as far as I can tell. This is a debate that will rumble on and on…

Whatever the bluebells are, it will look nice in the New Year and maybe we can make a call on what we do.

We have proper English bluebells at the snowdrop bench so we are able to make a more informed decision.

Next week we are clearing out the huge wildflower section around the birdfeeder bench and whilst a huge amount of seed will have dropped, we will add a load more to keep it varied and attractive to pollinators.

Quick look up and down, and our coffee break…

If you love what we do, or love the greenway, become a patron and gift us £2 a month or the price of a coffee. Anything, to keep the show on the road. If people chip in a tiny amount it all adds up and we can keep improving the greenway, rather than just cutting back bramble and nettles. The link is on the right hand side…


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A New Way To Support Us

We haven’t done any fund-raising for a while and looking in the Cawston Greenway petty-cash tin, all I can see is a few random pennies and a button that popped off my trousers after the first lockdown!!

We have teamed up with and anyone who loves what we are doing can support us with a small monthly amount. A couple of quid, the cost of a coffee, anything that you won’t really notice. Honestly, it really helps to keep the show on the road and, allows us to invest in wildflower seeds, snowdrop and bluebell bulbs, preservative for the benches and all the other stuff that requires cash.

There is a link on the right-hand side and trust me, we will be so grateful for the support.

Loads of stuff going on at the moment. I will cover off the workday first, and then try and summarise what we have planned over the next few months.

As you know, we have made a new wildflower clearing. This week we seeded it.

The seed mix has 27 native wildflower types and we added what felt like a million poppy seeds (tiny black things) that I had harvested from a field about a mile away, also some vipers bugloss and field scabious that a chap had harvested from a similar project to ours in north London, which weirdly, is about a ten minute walk from where I come from. It is the disused Harrow to Stanmore Railway, locally known as the Belmont Line.

We have plenty of seeds left for the other clearings.

This is the wildflower mix

We then walked south and looked at the jobs that need doing over the winter. We are going to have just three statement wildflower clearings. This one, the one at the birdfeeder clearing and the one at Potford Dam. However, we are going to keep increasing the length of these clearings over time.

So what else is happening:

He have hit 60,000 views on the stats counter (my wife keeps telling me that people must be very very bored).

Mental Health – just to remind people that we are here for this. If you see us, come and talk to us. We love talking almost as much as we love coffee and cookies. Bring us some biscuits or come with a pair of loppers and join in.

Dino Trail – about to relaunch this. The first go was really to see how it looked and what problems we needed to overcome. The upgrade will hopefully work really well (still need someone artistic to do a decent map (hint, hint)).

Geocaching – Dino themed again and almost ready to go. Just need the stickers and log sheets.

The path to Leamington – work starts on the 8th October at the Leamington end. There is planning permission for the whole line to be made into a decent cycle path and also a branch off from Marton Junction to Long Itchington. The Bear pub is reopening so will be a convenient coffee stop and another coffee stop is planned around Marton or beyond. Exciting times.

And lastly – by this time next week our first bit of Cawston Greenway merchandise will be available. I am almost overflowing with excitement!!


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