I have to say that I am rather pleased with today’s workday. As I trudged from my home at 9:50am it was snowing and cold and I thought that I was going to be on my own today. However, I met Jason as I walked down to where we were working and before long Mike and John rocked up, and we had a really good session.
As we worked at clearing the scrub it became obvious that there are two options that we are wrestling with. The first being smashing down the path as quickly as possible, and rush to get to the end or, pull back and work more slowly but try and make the best of the bit we were working on. We kind of flipped from the first to the second today and ended up releasing a tree from a load of scrub and making a feature of it.
Mike got on with his hedge-laying and it is starting to look really good. This is good for a number of reasons. The hedge is a living thing and it will be exciting to see it grow and play host to many different types of wildlife. I went back later to check the fire embers were under control and also just try and take in where we are at and where we are going. I got a lovely photo of Mike’s hedge against the winter sky.
It’s amazing how the greenway changes along the path. There are some superb trees that are begging to be released from the scrub and low value trees that have tangled themselves in their branches. If we work at knocking back the areas where everything has become a tangled mess, we will give the trees that are high value a fighting chance to flourish. It is also worth capitalising on the grassy areas and trying to get these areas expanded.
We started working on an area where there were a couple of Blackthorn trees totally engulfed in scrub and probably on the next workday we need to go back to this area and release these lovely trees. If we can create a Blackthorn clearing then this will compliment the Hawthorn clearing that we made a few weeks ago.
Blackthorn is a deciduous large shrub or small tree growing to 5 m tall, with blackish bark and dense, stiff, spiny branches. The leaves are oval, 2–4.5 cm long and 1.2–2 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The flowers are 1.5 cm diameter, with five creamy-white petals; they are produced shortly before the leaves in early spring, and are hermaphroditic and insect-pollinated. The fruit, called a “sloe”, is a drupe 10–12 millimetres (0.39–0.47 in) in diameter, black with a purple-blue waxy bloom, ripening in autumn, and harvested — traditionally, at least in the UK, in October or November after the first frosts. Sloes are thin-fleshed, with a very strongly astringent flavour when fresh.
As an aside, Sustrans have started work on the line out of Rugby though Newbold, which connects with what we are working on somewhere north of our path. Take a look and see how they do it with JCB’s compared to our efforts!
Lastly there is a natural window in the clearing that we made today and it overlooks the Compensation Area that the Western Relief Road contractors gave us. This is an area of grassland that will be host to many insects and butterflies. Access to this area is via the new footbridge that forms part of Cawston Bridleway and is well worth a visit.
That’s about it for now. Many thanks to all who have helped on the greenway this year. We have learned a lot since last year and I guess that we were just playing at it first time round. This year it seems that we have made huge strides forward and I really feel that we are creating something that is quite special for Cawston.
I hope everyone has a happy and merry Christmas and I welcome back everyone who has helped make the greenway what it is on the next workday, which is on the 28th December, I think!