Archive for October, 2011


5th Following a dental appointment I was a bit late joining the volunteer team at Marbury. I found Chris’ group in Hopyards by centring on the plume of smoke rising from a rhododendron bonfire. The first challenge for me was to jump across the stream. I managed that without embarrassment. There was already a pile of branches collecting by the fire and I helped in heaping them onto the flames. After years of rhododendron clearance Chris was having difficulty finding large area of rhody, so a second fire was needed to avoid having to drag the branches too far. The brisk wind soon whipped up the flames and I stayed close to the bonfire and left the more agile to negotiate the steep bank. It wasn’t long before the surrounding area was clear and Chris went off in search of more of the offending shrub and chose the site of a third bonfire. We left the three fires as piles of hot embers, which needed warning signs at the end of the day.

6th The wind had picked up even more and heavy blustery showers were forecast. Probably because of the adverse weather conditions we were all engaged on jobs that were in safe sheltered places. Elna and I busied ourselves tidying the yard. We slashed at nettles that had grown up around and between various odds and ends before we could begin to have a clear out. First to go was a pile of brash discarded during earlier besom making. We enlisted more help in loading birch poles onto the trailer, which Chris took to make a ‘habitat’ near the burning site. We disturbed a frog and a toad whilst sorting timber. When we reached the heap of logs under a tarpaulin, it was decided that we should fill the charcoal burner. After we had cleared the vents, Jim climbed in and set the initial fires with paper, cardboard and kindling. There plenty of browns to start us off and split logs followed. Gareth tried his hand with the axe for the first time, splitting the logs to an appropriate size. We almost filled the kiln and we can look forward to riddling and bagging next week.

12th I began to do a notice on the chalk board for the Autumn Walk, but the drizzle put paid to that. Frances and I collected a broom and a shovel to take to the terrace steps. Fallen leaves, beech mast and acorns had made the steps treacherous and we started to clear them. Nettles were hanging over the sides, making the job more awkward. Frances nipped back to the yard for a pair of loppers and we worked on. We took the opportunity to lean on our tools and talk to two passers-by, who flattered us by saying “You’re doing a grand job, girls.” The drizzle became heavy rain and we sheltered in the bird hide and picked up the few items of litter before deciding it was time for lunch.

Six of us met Amanda on the Carey Park lime bed to continue scrub clearance. The drizzly rain added to our joy as the brambles tripped us and the hawthorn scratched us. The Hebridean sheep were on site, but they kept their distance. The plan is for them to keep the scrub in check by nibbling the young shoots. We found evidence that they have already begun. After a couple of hours we’d all had enough and we trudged back to Witton Mill car park, stopping only to cut back brambles encroaching on the footpath along the lane.

13th I was able to write on the chalkboard to advertise the next FoAM event in bright sunshine. Before I’d finished, the new charcoal bags had been delivered. A group of volunteers set about emptying the kiln. At first it seemed as if it wasn’t much of a burn, but we filled all the old bags and started on the new ones. We stowed the charcoal away in the shed. A branch had come down from one of the oaks that the children love to climb. After lunch Chris took us to put most of it through the chipper as part of tidying up and making it safe.


27th It was a gloomy day when it never seemed to get light. It rained most of the time, but it was mild and waterproofs weren’t very comfortable. The lime bed at Carey Park was the main target for volunteer activity. Five of us in the morning were down to three in the afternoon, working alongside Dave and Amanda. We managed to cut the scrub with loppers, although bow saws were needed to get through some of the birches. The Hebridean sheep watched us from a discreet distance. Towards the end of the morning Dave diverted his attention to the path behind the tip and took his chain saw to some encroaching willow branches. He beckoned for some of us to tidy away his prunings. We hauled the branches into the undergrowth, carefully avoiding the steep slope into the gulley. After lunch I didn’t fancy putting the sodden gloves on again and I was rewarded with a new pair. We could see how much scrub we had cleared by the end of the day by the piles of hawthorn, willow and silver birch scattered across the field. We are losing count of the number of hours spent on this job in fair weather and foul. It will all be worth it to maintain this Site of Special Scientific Interest. We stopped off at Haydn’s Pool on the way back to inspect the water level and we were pleased to see that after a week of water supply from INEOS-Chlor, it is no longer Haydn’s Puddle.

Fungal collection

In spite of low expectations of finding much on the Fungal Forays at Marbury on 15th October, there was a wide variety as displayed here by FoAM member Judith Lee.

Shapes & Colours of Autumn, Sat 5th Nov

Meet at 10.00 by the Rangers’ Cabin for a gentle two hour walk in Marbury Park to see the remaining autumn colours. Try identifying the trees without their leaves.

10.00 till 12.00

Contact Mary Jeeves for more information. 01606 77688