Summertime and the living is …..

We wish it was easy but this is Britain and so far the weather has not been the best. Trying to undertake our usual program of work dodging the showers has proved challenging. Not only for us but also for our contractors. I have been trying to keep all the footpaths, benches and steps clear of vegetation by strimming and brushcutting and it’s been a struggle to keep on top of things.

The ragwort season is also upon me and I have been out pulling the plant before it sets seed. Luckily the flowering stage for ragwort lasts a good few weeks so gives me the opportunity to get to grips with it (excuse the pun) before the flowers are over and seeds start to disperse in the wind. For those who don’t know, ragwort is a yellow flowering plant that is poisonous to horses and cattle. I have had  problems with ragwort on Shortwood and Haresfield Beacon where it can grow prolifically. In the past I have used volunteers to help clear the ground but it is not the easiest task and particularly the slopes of the Beacon can be very testing. Below is a photo of the Beacon looking from the trig point north and highlights the terrain we have to traverse when ragwort pulling.

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Other summer work  I have planned, is to resurface the Cotswold Way and Robbers road bridleway in Standish wood plus the lower woodland track, in preparation  for the autumn winter. The car park at Ash lane Randwick and main car park at Shortwood, will also have some regrading and resurfacing done. The aim is to provide all weather track surfaces that drain well and reduce the muddy, rutted and pooling tracks and entrances we have experienced during the wetter periods throughout the year. This work is a continuation of the resurfacing I had done along the Cotswold Way last year and will be carried on over the next couple of years throughout the woods. The lower track will be resurfaced using stone extracted from one of the existing old quarries, this helps reduce costs of bringing stone in from quarries many miles away plus the logistics of trying to get lorries up Ash lane which is single track, narrow and bound by high hedges. The opening up of the quarry has had an unexpected bonus. Since starting to reuse it a couple of years ago it has created an open area in the woods, this glade has been beneficial for the insects, butterflies and moths and subsequent birds who feed off them.

A view of Robbers Road in Standish wood as it looked back in the late winter in the wet muddy conditions. The top left photo shows a section of the Cotswold Way in Standish wood in the same weather conditions but after it’s been resurfaced.

Another type of work being undertaken along the lower track is for a local forestry contractor to remove the larch and hardwoods (beech, ash and sycamore) that have been felled in this part of Standish wood, selling it either as firewood or as saw logs for processing. This operation requires the use of tractors with forwarding trailers and winches. Again the aim is to get this work completed during the summer when hopefully it stays reasonably dry. This will then be followed by the resurfacing work. Unfortunately there will be some disruption whilst this is all going on  but hopefully not too much and will be very localized so that you can still enjoy the majority of woods in peace and quiet.

Tim Jenkins

Area ranger Haresfield Beacon estate.

 

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