Dry Sandford Pit, 1st February 2020

Sixteen Green Gymmers assembled at Dry Sandford Pit on the first day of February. Four of us had cycled there in strong headwinds, feeling like we had already had quite a workout before we'd even begun!

James led the session, and once we had made our way onto site with our tools, he instructed us on the main task. Namely to pick up where we left off on our last outing here in mid-December. Thus more vegetation required clearing from the cliff faces of this former quarry while brambles and small shrubs adjacent to them also needed cutting back.

Several new tools had been purchased in the past week including more lightweight loppers and a few new mini mattocks. These would come in handy.

We split into two teams initially - a group of six heading back toward the site entrance to clear a large patch of brambles left over from last time, while the majority headed deeper into the nature reserve to begin work on a new section of cliff.

The smaller sub-team, led by Margaret, began by clearing a small area behind some trees in which to deposit the cuttings away from the main path. After that it was a case of lopping the brambles and either pitchforking or dragging them across on a tarpaulin. The task appeared daunting at first, but it was soon apparent that it would be completed by break time. Indeed the area was just about clear by the time that Helen appeared, informing us that our hot drinks were waiting. Good timing as she obligingly took an ‘after’ photo of all six of us in the spot where the brambles has been.

Once refreshed, everyone headed to the location where the larger group had spent the first half of the morning. Work was by now well underway, but there was plenty left to do even with the addition of the sub-team six.

Progress was made along a decent length of the cliff face, including some elevated sections where Rosie and Michele clambered up to work at height, the new mattocks being put to good use to expose areas of cliff that are home to solitary bees and other invertebrates.

Graham and Andrew kept themselves busy cutting back some shrubs including a couple of elders, mostly with the use of a bow saw. The cut branches were removed to form habit piles beneath some larger trees a short distance away.

As our respective timepieces informed us that it was 12:30pm, we took stock of our progress and were most pleased. We hope that the local Wildlife Trust who we work with here (but who didn’t have a representative along on this occasion) will be too.

James outlines the task du jour.

The sub-team's 'before' photo.

Bramble clearance well underway.

Rosie and Roger's bramble-trampling dance.

Getting there...

A jelly ear fungus on some cut elder.

The final push.

The sub-team 'after' photo.

Taking pride in our work!

A well-earned break.

The latest edition of the Green Gym's legendary beverage list. However, it already requires updating again!

Shrub removal.
Helen, Margaret and Barbara work the cliff face.

Henry walks some branches to the habitat pile.

Silver birches looking resplendent in the winter sun.

Michele and Rosie at altitude.


The golden cliffs of Dry Sandford.

Packing up.


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