Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ock Valley Walk, Town End, 12th April 2014

This Saturday, we were back at one of our most frequented sites - the town end of the Ock path.  Last time we were here, it was to plant a number of trees.  Thus for this session, one of our primary objectives was to check upon the progress of said saplings, as well as to maintain the woodchip path, also to clear a number of weeds and invasive sycamore growth, and not forgetting the obligatory litter pick!

It was perhaps our largest turnout of the year thus far - 17 of us, 18 if we include baby Charlie, our youngest member!  With such a significant number, we were able to allocate several volunteers to each task and to make a good amount of progress on each.

Upon arrival, having transported our tools from the meeting point by the weir to the work area, the first job was to erect the new sign/leaflet holder that Robert had constructed.  Very impressive it is too, it took pride of place beside the start of the woodchip path, alerting passers-by to our presence and advertising our activities.  Next, we received instruction from session leader, Sally and subsequently set about working.

Unfortunately we only had a single wheelbarrow, so that our ability to transport woodchip from the piles at either end of the path for distribution was limited somewhat.  Not to worry, as an alternative, there were many sycamore saplings to deal with.  They have become numerous and rampant in their invasiveness around the edges of the path, including on the river banks and in the area where the new trees have been planted.  These were pulled up and disposed of, along with other weeds close to the path margins, especially the cleavers/goosegrass.

The newly-planted saplings were found largely to be in great condition and many of them have grown at quite an astonishing rate.  Weed/nettle growth was cleared where possible from their immediate surroundings and it was also suggested that some taller tree guards be deployed in the near future to discourage deer from eating them.  Indeed, during the session, a muntjac deer was sighted - evidence if it was needed that we ought to give this idea some further consideration.

The litter situation at first sight was not the worst that we had seen, but one of the reasons for this was that there was much recent nettle growth masking the problem!  When investigating further, it was found that the usual mix of discarded food wrappers, drinks cans, bottles and similar debris were to be found in abundance.  The most unusual item discovered on this occasion was a discarded kettle.  The mind boggles!

Regarding break time, a special mention should be given to Petra's excellent apple cake that she kindly supplied and was greedily consumed in its entirety!  

By session's end, our initial objectives were achieved, but with plenty still to do when we return to the site for the first session after Easter.  Next week, there is an interval in the programme, but we will reconvene here on Saturday 26th April.

The meeting point

Robert's impressive construction

Bluebells beside the River Ock

Some of the trees we planted earlier in the year

Break time

Sycamore over-growth

Activities amongst the trees

Robert and Emma beside the woodchip pile

Eleanor, Samantha with Charlie and Kate

Emma with wheelbarrow

Tanya with the results of her weeding

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