Ooh! A New Wildflower Clearing!

It is always terrific fun when we put up our den. A mixture of the hilarity of trying to put the thing up, and the schoolboy satisfaction that we have made a den in the woods and now have a camp.

I know, I know… Little things and all that, but it is good fun.

We created a new wildflower clearing opposite our newly secured bench. This is just about as south facing as we can get, so should do very well.

We can keep pushing this area out over the next few years and create a hub similar to the bird-feeder clearing.

It is all about controlling and managing the scrub so that we have as much biodiversity as possible, as well as a usable path and places for people to stop and rest.

We enjoyed coffee and cookies whilst sheltering in our camp. I think we only saw one other person during the whole morning.

A good, if a little wet, morning. Next week we are trying to add ladders to the bat-boxes so they start to get used. That will be interesting.

If anyone wants to join us you will be more than welcome. We are pretty laid-back and just kinda rub along.


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Bench Maintenance

So this week we decided that we would replant one of our benches. It became uprooted a while ago, but trying to put together a workday where we are able to socially distance, and be a bit sensible, proved a challenge.

It is one of the first benches where we were making the legs too short. We extended the legs so that we would get a lot more purchase from the new cement. Luckily the slope compensates for the short legs and it is quite a comfortable perch.

We are trying to have some sort of a bench every 500 metres or so, it just allows people to sit and enjoy the path and the wildlife.

That is really all we did and we just enjoyed a socially distanced coffee and cookie afterwards.

As always, the cups are put back in the bag after our coffee, and put in the dishwasher when I get home.

We have provisionally booked an Adventure Workshop for Young Autistic Adults for the 9th December. We will be replacing the missing bench in the Youth Quadrant and also the hide bench at the bird-feeder clearing. If lockdown continues we may have to push this date out a bit. I have one person keen to attend and could do with one more…

Here is a picture of the last of the berries on offer.

I can almost feel the long, cold winter approaching.


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Busy Week

Phew!! Where to start…?

The greenway is totally litter-picked now.

We probably just need to keep on top of it now (how many times have I said that!!).

We put our Armistice Day rocks out and enjoyed seeing facebook posts as people found them and then hid them again.

You can find the facebook page at Maggy Anne Rocks and it is all about helping to give people a little lift if they are feeling a bit down.

The bird-feeders are full…

…and all is good along our little slice of paradise in a mad mad world!

We have a beast of some sort that is chewing the benches…! We wanted them to be rural looking and to fit in – but not quite this much…

We are not really that bothered, to be honest. If eventually they need replacing, we will just get our crack team of Young Autistic Adults on it and turn it into an Adventure Time Workshop.

Our usual coffee and cookie break was had. Nice to just chat, have a laugh, and enjoy the view.

Same time next week. Only six allowed and we are in the bit between Berrybanks and The Bear pub.


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Who Needs The Gym…!

So today was the day that we have all put off for so long.

It was dragging the heavy round bench from the bottom of a stream to the highest bit of embankment.

OMG!! If ever we had a reason to just leave it, it was now. Tough work that needed a coffee and cookie break straight after to rebuild energy.

But the view from here is outstanding…

And the wildflowers create a lot of interest in the near distance, so we raked off the old stuff and made it ready for next year.

We will probably just throw a load more wildflower seeds down and rake them in, but essentially, it should start to self-seed by now. The more we rake it and trample it, the more it feels like sheep grazing it, so wildflowers should just spring up.

We did the same with the bird-feeder clearing and are all set now for creating as many little wildflower nooks and crannies along the way in the new year.

Something else that we chatted about was having a section where we clear out all the straggly young trees and scrub, and just encourage the growth of individual trees and allow them to mature. I will speak to Sustrans and do some googling to see how this might look like.

Anyway, Lockdown Two has happened. We will no-doubt have to break into groups of two for the next four weeks.


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Catching Up!!

We managed to clear the overgrown bramble and other unwanted thuggish plants from our wildflower areas. We still need to rake off the birdfeeder clearing and last bench area, but it feels like we are making good progress.

This should have been done in September, but hey-ho. What we can decide in December is – do we want more wildflower cuttings along this bit? It has to be in areas where there are no overhanging trees and we have to have the manpower to be able to clear them out every year.

Previously we have gone to a lot of effort clearing huge areas of bramble and left it to see what might come up. Mostly this has been nettles, which is a bit discouraging, and then the brambles regrow.

If we decide that we want more wildflowers, to give us more biodiversity, we probably need bite-sized chunks that will take an hour to completely clear out and reseed. But we can stick that on the back-burner for now.

Nice coffee and macaroon break again, even if a bit of a working one. Good to have Cristina, Tim, Marcus, Paul and Mick (briefly) out today.

Next week we finish raking the wildflower areas and pull the bench back up the bank!!


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Snowdrop Bulbs In

At one point today it looked like we were running a Time Team episode with Tony Robinson. We literally had trenches everywhere.

We planted the bulbs in the trenches and then sieved the earth back using a griddle. This will hopefully give the bulbs the best chance to settle and grow. I have made a commitment to add 1,000 bulbs every year to this area, and also the existing bulbs should start to spread naturally.

What I am hoping over time is that it becomes a real “go to” when the whole area is covered in a white carpet of snowdrops. Imagine how uplifting that will be in the depths of winter, and then when the snowdrops have gone over, the same thing again with English bluebells.

Really good to set up our basecamp and shelter from the rain whilst enjoying a coffee and macaroon.

It’s all just a bit of fun, a great way to meet neighbours and have that warm fuzzy feeling that we are contributing to the local area.

Also, I have added all the access points to the map, if you click on the map tab above you will see the best places to get on and off. It is the purple markers with a walking person symbol. This should help with people planning walks. We are getting sign posts up at some point, but at the moment we need to catch up on all the lost time this year.

Well, that is it for this week. Anyone who wants to join in please do come along. You can get stuck in, or just do a little bit of a litter-pick and snipping back, if you want to sound us out and see if it’s for you.


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HS2 this ain’t

Occasionally people query that we are ruining the wildlife habitat by clearing scrub and making a path. It always brings a wry smile to my face as I suggest that they look at the first few posts of this blog. But just in case, here is a little video called path v. wildlife habitat.

As you can see, I think the wildlife habitat is pretty safe, but just in case anyone is still worried, we do use Sustrans guide books to keep us on the straight and narrow.

We snipped back bramble runners from the Cawston Bridleway overbridge to the bird-feeder clearing.

We are slowly getting back into the routine of workdays. I will bring coffee and cookies next week. The really pressing things are getting bulbs in the ground and clearing out the wildflower areas.

I will list the workday schedule again later today. Loads of good stuff happening in the background that will amaze everyone!


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Wordays of Six Allowed

Sustrans are now allowing workdays of up to six people. Good news.

This week we snipped back the area from the Rotherham Close entrance, to the Cawston Bridleway overbridge.

It’s all about keeping it nice and wide so that there is enough room for walkers and cyclists to pass unhindered, and lots of habitat for the wildlife on the edges.

Plenty to do in the next few weeks and months – replace the bench in the quadrant, reset the bench that has come loose at Berrybanks, mow and rake the wildflower areas (well overdue), give the Dunchurch Nature Trail a hard trim back, snip back the whole greenway, create new scallops in the bird-feeder area, plant a further 2,000 snowdrop bulbs to create our winter wonderland walk, plant 1,000 English bluebell bulbs to create our bluebell walk, manhandle the round bench up the bank, wood stain all the benches, and on and on…

Thankfully it is all good fun!


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Relaxing Snipback

Nicely therapeutic workday snipping back anything growing into the path. We worked from the Rotherham Close entrance to the underpass, and back.

The wider the path, the further people can see ahead and the less intimidating it becomes. Sustrans recommend 1 to 2 metres.

Looking up and down. It feels nice and open.

I am in the process of trying to do something with the underpass. Just waiting for some ideas bouncing back and forth with Sustrans to formalise.

Will keep everyone posted.


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Back on it!!!

From next week we are back loving our fantastic nature trail. We have loads to do and limited numbers allowed, so we will just have to do what we can.

Last week I got the connection to the Dunchurch Bridleway sorted.

As soon as the bulbs arrive, we will be creating a wonderful area. Until then we need to cut back the wildflower areas and also rescue the bench that was thrown down the embankment.

In my mind’s eye, from now to December, the above, and from Jan to March just cut the brambles right back.

Hope to see the many path users soon.


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