This was our first visit to Wolvercote Common to help the Commoners Committee. After an anxious moment when it was feared that only about one and a half Green Gymmers would commit to the session, in the end eight of us turned up, outnumbering the Commoners two to one. The day was damp and cloudy but fortunately the relentless rain of the previous day had passed, though inevitably the site had become very soggy.
The tasks consisted of cutting back vegetation and overhanging branches from the ditch and opening it up so it drained into the neighbouring canal, while leaving enough bushes to screen the view of the railway, which runs parallel to the canal. The work was heavy and a lot of sawing was required, while being careful not to sink into the mud. The wood was then transported on to drier land to be further cut up and sorted into logs and brash with the straightest branches being trimmed for use as pea sticks. The rest was piled into habitat piles, with the larger logs being set aside for the use of the Commoners.
The local people have "estovers" rights, that is, the right to take wood from the common for their own use. This was a new word for us, so it shows that Green Gym is educational as well as healthy! Some work on digging and deepening the ditch was also needed, though the recent rain made this difficult.
Our final task was to carry the logs and pile them up by the kissing gate so the locals could help themselves. We thank Jane Carey and Michael Buck of the Commoners Committee for inviting us to work there and we hope to return in the Summer for hay raking. It will be interesting to see the Common in a different season with, hopefully warm weather and blue skies.
|ready for work|
|Kate and Sally trimming the wood|
|Robert and Eleanor working on trees by the ditch|
|Margaret, Dieuwke and Carolyn cutting up wood|
|carrying logs to the gate|