Benches part 3

This is a story about a bench. This particular bench had been given to us by local resident, Kate. It had seen better days but we refurbished it and gave it a whole new lease of life.

This is so good on so many levels. Local community helping out, restoring a broken bench, giving others a chance to sit and have a picnic and enjoy the greenway, This could have so easily ended up down the tip, but now gets to live on in useful service for many more years.

Many thanks to Marcus for pulling the bench apart and rebuilding it.


We enjoyed a coffee and macaroon after the long haul of getting the bench in position. And you see that rucksack – that was gifted to us by another lovely local resident, Jemma.

Nice to share a good news story.


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Benches part 2

Second week of a bit of TLC for our benches. We tightened the nuts and screws on the picnic benches and carried on with staining them.

Actually managed to remember a before and after picture this week!

We have the quadrant bench set and the small one-seater benches left to do next week. We also have our refurbished picnic bench to put in. Looking forward to getting this in place and creating a pleasant setting around it.

I did the obligatory litter-pick and did the quick-look-up-and-down photos.

Nice and wide so plenty of sunshine able to get to the edges of the path and encourage new things to grow. Spotted and recorded Small White and Orange-tip butterflies.

Our good friend, Andrew, has made us some replacement bat boxes so we need to schedule putting them up over the next week or two.

Loads of wildflowers starting to come up. I took photos with my phone but they are not close enough and of sharp focus. I will redo and we can try and identify and record everything that we see this year.

Lastly, just as we were packing up we had a massive hail storm!!

Crazy weather.


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Benches part 1

This week and next is all about the benches. We stained six so far and next week we will tighten up the joints on the picnic-style ones and give them another coat on the top surfaces.

We also put down a load of wildflower seeds. Every bench has to have a bit of a feature. This being a decent view across the heath, a busy wildflower patch, or birds darting in and out of a hedge.

We have another picnic bench to put in somewhere along the trail. This is one that we have refurbished and will make a really good story in a few weeks time.

Loads of people using the path today and hopefully nobody sat down and ended up with a stripy bottom.

Still waiting to hear if we can revert to fully manned workdays and also start our once-a-month weekender day. As soon as we can I will let everyone know.


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Waterworks Part 1

We have decided that we need to keep an eye on the waterway under the path. This area flooded badly in the winter so we just need to see what is going on.

After checking to make sure there were no nesting birds, we eased a path to allow us to see what is going in, and what is coming out. If it is simply too much volume of water we cannot do much about it. What we can do though, is keep the brook clear of branches and other blockages.

Part 2 of this will be at the other end just before Potford Dam. Here the brook runs parallel with the path, so hopefully we can incorporate it into our habitat management. There used to be a reedbed so looking forward to encouraging that to flourish.

The usual look up and down shows a nice dry path.

hard to imagine that this was waterlogged a couple of months ago.

Next week we are starting a bench maintenance program at the Cawston Bridleway cutting and heading south.


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New bench with a cracker of a view

The nice thing about being a volunteer group, is that we are not under any time or financial pressure. We can think about stuff and hopefully do things that are a little more geared towards the long-term.

With the new bench, our thoughts were this – 1, slightly closer to residential homes than other benches so needs to be a single seat (don’t want groups hanging around it). 2, sits slightly higher due to flat ground and help people to see over the gate. 3, we like every bench to have a bit of a feature, be it a decent view, feeding birds, wildflower mini-meadow, or even just a great place to meet (The Quadrant) to have a coffee and chat.

This bench was most definitely about the view.

Hear is us putting the bench in, from conception to finish.

And this is the view taken from here over the last ten years.

And that is it. A favourite place for so many people now has somewhere for us to sit and enjoy the tranquillity.

The path is still incredibly busy and everybody coming past were happy and chatty.

A quick look up, around and down as we have our coffee and macaroons.

Next week we are down at Berrybanks clearing the brook.


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Litter picked and snipped

It felt like we were never going to get to the end of our litter picking and snipping back sessions over the last few months.

But we eventually got to the little triangle of light at the end.

Everything is really greening up now, and on this section we have allowed a tunnel effect to happen. We are still getting dappled sunlight coming through, but maybe just monitor it over the summer to see if we need to cut a couple of glades into it. This will encourage biodiversity and help to keep the path dry.

I really want us to get back into the good habit of recording the flora and fauna (see iRecord button above). So far I have seen and recorded a couple of pairs of Brimstone butterflies and a Peacock or two. It adds to the diversity of the path for different users and, hopefully, one day a Cawston wildlife monitoring group will pop up.

In light of a recent conversation about managing the grassland between the greenway and Cave Close and creating a wildflower meadow, it does seem like good timing.

It’s just another opportunity for a group of like-minded people to gather and do their thing, share coffee and cookies, and forge friendships.

We are waiting to see what is happening with the Right of Way R168x.

The Dunchurch Bridleway needs a good snip back in the Autumn. It doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of traffic that Cawston gets, so it could do with a little help to make it feel a bit more welcoming.

We have our Young Autistic Adults program to restart as soon as we are allowed to have larger groups. This will involve fun activities on the greenway to develop confidence, networking and skills within this group. We will be filming what we are doing and then editing it into a short video clip for our youtube channel. It’s all good fun and creates yet another strand of interest and activity, for whoever fancies their hand at working with video editing and creation.

Plenty of happy and chatty people using the path as we worked away.

It is looking pretty decent now that it has dried out, even if I say so myself!!

Hopefully we will get news of further lifting of restrictions this week and can crack on with our plans.


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Restrictions Lifted Slightly

Restrictions lifted but still no group workdays. Only small actions like litter picks and snipping back in pairs of two people.

Should hopefully have more news in a couple of weeks.

This week we just carried on snipping back, as part of our daily exercise.

We just have the last leg (The Bear to the start) left to do. And then we desperately need to litter-pick.

Local resident, Kate, kindly gifted us a picnic bench.

With a little TLC it will become a useful addition to our picnic bench collection. With the benches we try to make an experience for each one. It might be a bluebell or wildflower clearing or a fantastic view across the heath.

On this section of the path, we are going to cut very deep scallops into the south-facing bank, and then sow locally collected wildflower seeds.

Obviously this will be after the bird nesting season, and when we can have full work parties back. I also want to uncover some of the waterways and just keep the water flowing in the correct places. I think this will enhance the path no end.

Lastly, we rested our secateurs and enjoyed a coffee and macaroon. Loads of people using the path and everyone chatty and happy.

Loads of good stuff in the pipe-line. Just holding off as much as we can until we are allowed. Also got a lot of stuff planned for our Young Autistic Adults. Watch this space and everyone more than welcome to get involved as soon as COVID restrictions allow.


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A Drain for the Rain

We rediscovered one of our drains this week. There is another one on the other side of the track-bed underneath all the scrub, which needs uncovering. We also cleared the inlet. We need to be extra careful not to disturb any nesting birds.

We need to keep the drains clear to stop the flooding. It will also increase the biodiversity if we have open running water available for wildlife.

Looking up and down and we are just starting to green up!

We carry on with just gently snipping back next week. We are allowed to share a coffee and macaroon for now. Hopefully things start to ease in the next week or so.

We also need to take a look at the bluebells around the Bridleway clearing. They are not the standard English variety so as much as it pains me, they really need to come out and be replaced with the real deal. I think I will let them flower and then remove them. I can replant in autumn.

We have loads to do over the spring and summer but trying to hold off as much as possible until we can meet in proper work groups.

Great to see so many people using the path for their daily exercise.


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Is it safe to look forward and make plans?

It probably is safe to make some tentative plans as we are allowed our freedoms back. The biggest thing will be having a family workday on a weekend, once a month. This allows people who are busy in the week to join in.

I am guessing that from April 12th we will be able to start proper workdays. At the moment it has just been a socially distanced two of us, snipping back and thinning trees, picking up litter and planting seeds.

Of course, as we come out of lockdown, the bird nesting season is well and truly underway, so, ironically, we are restricted in what we can do until September!!

However, I am sure there will be loads of snipping back, general tidying, and looking after bench areas by improving the views and staining the benches…

…wildflower recording, butterfly spotting, coffee to be drank, biscuits to be eaten and jokes to be shared.

So to recap – once a month, a weekend family workday, three Wednesdays a month the normal morning midweek workday.

Everyone welcome, no previous experience needed, just sturdy footwear and gardening gloves.


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Snowy Day

General tidy and a little snip back this week.

We put our Valentines rocks out at the weekend as well.

Please feel free to like the rocks facebook page

That’s it for this week. Hopefully get some good news on Feb 22nd and we can get back to normal.


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