Dry Sandford Pit, Saturday 15th of January, 2022

This Saturday, Abingdon Green Gym were out in force at Dry Sandford Pit. It was a very frosty and foggy morning when we met in the Dry Sandford carpark, and we were all keen to get started to that our Green Gym fleeces, as well as our fingers, didn’t start to seize up! Ably led by session leader Sally, who gave us a quick task and safety briefing, we donned high-viz jackets (on account of the fog) and headed down to our ‘camp site’ which looked over the beautiful reed bed where the cattle graze in the summer. The main tasks for the day were a) to move a pile of general cuttings over to one of the nature piles deeper into the reserve, and b) to make a fence from the cuttings which the week-day volunteer team had made. Making the fence was a team effort, and involved:

  • ·        Selecting the girthier and longer branches from the pile which could be whittled into stakes. Mags and Rosie selected these, and then made sure to lop off any sticky-outy bits before moving them up to the Whittling Station.
  • ·        At the Whittling Station, Graham and Max whittled the stakes with billhooks to sharpen one end which could then be stabbed into the very cold and hard earth. Max is new to the team and has come to us to complete his Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award, which we are more than happy to help him with! He did a particularly excellent job whittling the largest and hardest branch which we are sure will be the longest standing of the stakes.
  • ·        Kevin was then working on sawing the stakes to size and getting them into the ground, an unenviable task which he approached with his usual enthusiasm and only resulted in one lightly-hammered finger (nobody panic, the first-aid box was, as ever, on hand).
  • ·        Multiple numbers of the team were then working to fill the hedge by placing the larger branches at the bottom before weaving the thinner, more bendy offerings upwards.

Breaktime was gratefully received by all and came with some wonderful offerings skimmed from people’s left-over festive stocks. The session resulted in a beautifully rendered hedge which will keep the cattle in, the dogs out, and become a home and hunting ground for various birds and insects.  Thanks to the efforts of the team, the path through the site was also left bramble-free!

I leave you with a winter offering from the Peasant’s Poet, John Clare:

The small wind whispers through the leafless hedge
Most sharp and chill, where the light snowy flakes
Rest on each twig and spike of wither'd sedge,
Resembling scatter'd feathers;--vainly breaks
The pale split sunbeam through the frowning cloud,
On Winter's frowns below--from day to day
Unmelted still he spreads his hoary shroud,
In dithering pride on the pale traveller's way,
Who, croodling, hastens from the storm behind
Fast gathering deep and black, again to find
His cottage-fire and corner's sheltering bounds;
Where, haply, such uncomfortable days
Make musical the wood-sap's frizzling sounds,
And hoarse loud bellows puffing up the blaze.

The frosty and foggy path to Dry Sandford. 

The fog-shrouded reed bed

Busy Green Gymmers (likened to ants by Eleanor D!)

What a drag (bag)

Max's endless whittling project! 

Break time shenanigans 

Sunshine at last! 

The completed hedge

The team celebrating their beautiful hedge! 


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