Farmoor Reservoir, 22nd February 2020

Today’s session was held at Farmoor Reservoir – our third visit to this site, comprising a nature reserve and which borders the river Thames and surrounds. It was a blustery day as we arrived in the car park, but thankfully the rain which had been falling earlier that morning had stopped. Sixteen of us turned up and we were greeted by Hanna in her ‘gator’. After signing the Health & Safety form, we discussed whether we wanted to go for the planned task of reed cutting – albeit the nature reserve was under quite a few inches of water so we would get wet – or for a dryer task. We chose to stay dry!

As usual at this site, we shared cars and followed Hanna across to the other side of water along the concrete causeway.  We parked up in one of the anglers’ parking spots and got the tools ready. Really, there was one main task: that of cutting back years’ worth of growth along the fence that separates the reservoir from the Thames. Thick brambles, blackthorn, hawthorn, elder, wild rose and hazel all needed clearing to create room for wildflowers and views of the river. While Hanna apologised that this might not be the most interesting work, no apology was needed – it’s the kind of thing green gymmers love to get stuck into.

So we donned the thickest gloves to protect our hands from thorns and took to the task with zeal. By break time we had huge piles of cut material lined up along the trackway, ready for Hanna’s chippers and we could begin to see through to the river, along the other side. We’ve been lucky in this part of the country, and not hit by the terrible flooding of elsewhere over recent weeks, but still the river was at bursting point.

At breaktime, with no picnic table, we used an inspection hatch cover for the teas and coffees. It was so windy, with the coffee granules flying off Eleanor’s spoon as she tried to put them in the cups, it reminded her of going camping as a child, having breakfast on a mountain and cornflakes blowing off into the wind! Finally we all got our teas and coffees and the biscuits were much appreciated too.

In the second half it was more of the same and by the end we could see what an incredible amount of work had been achieved. The rain had held off. The sun had even shone a little bit. A really satisfying end to the session.

Hanna points out the work to be done.

Work begins.

Clearing scrub to the fence line.

Our work location.

The progress by break time.

Gathering around the inspection hatch.

The view from the side of the reservoir.

Looking towards Wytham Wood across the reservoir.

Where we ought to have been working!

The flooded Thames Path.

More of the flooding.

Sally and Adrian attack a patch of brambles with their scythes.

Many hands make light work.

Blackthorn blossom.

The view at the end of the session.


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