All posts by DaveB

2024.03.24 Nosehill Bowl Barrow Clearance

On a sunny Sunday 24 March, four members of Gloucester Vale Conservation Volunteers continued our efforts to clear the barrow from encroaching vegetation.

The barrow is probably bronze-age and had become overgrown with thorn bushes. Over the last three years, our volunteers have successively cleared the barrow itself, creating a grassy clearing that is nearly at the perimeter ditch that forms part of this ancient monument. In so doing, we have also created a glade that will fill with wildflowers in the summer and provide a valuable habitat for threatened butterflies.

We should be back next year to strim back emergent vegetation and expose some of the ditch. If you’d like to join us then do get in touch.

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Making a start on the fresh vegetation that has been growing for the last year

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One big heap of tangled cut material from last time’s cutting

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Three-quarters of today’s team at work clearing

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Big heap all gone and our sunny lunch spot

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One clear barrow

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Today’s team of Dave, Candy, Mike and Chris

2023.07.07 Sud Meadow Kissing Gates

Nine volunteers turned out to replace stiles with kissing gates along the footpath that runs around Sud Meadow, near to the former Hempstead landfill site which is now being regenerated for people and wildlife. These gates will be easier for people to use than the old stiles whilst presenting an obstacle for illegally ridden motorbikes.

Not a common task for us, a little forward-planning with tools and materials paid off and we were pleased to get all three in.

Thanks to Meyrik from GWT and Steve from Enovert for looking after us and making it happen.

Anthony, Trina and Rob dig holes for the first gate after removing the awkward wood and wire fence.

In goes the gate: Trina, Sian, Rob, Anthony and Dave

Clearly the best-installed gate.

Nathan and Richard work on gate 2

Richard powering on with Gate 3, ‘supervised’ by Nathan and Sam

Steve mucks in

The ‘runners up’ in the ‘best gate installation’ competition: Richard, Steve, Candy, Nathan and Sam

All done!

2023.02.26 Gorse clearance at Leckhampton Hill

Leckhampton Hill

26 February 2023

Gorse clearance with the Friends of Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings common (FOLK)

Six of our number (Anthony, Rob, Jane, Chris, Annie and Dave) turned out on a bright February morning to clear some of the gorse on the North side of Leckhampton Hill. Although valuable as part of the mix of habitats on the hill, it has been encroaching on footpaths and the unimproved grassland habitat that is valuable for butterflies, orchids and beetles.


Before clearance (not really, I forgot to take a ‘before’ photo)



Anthony and other volunteers clearing gorse


Volunteers working over here too



One cleared section of path

2023.01.22 Maintenance works at Churchdown





On Sunday 22nd Janurary 2023, GVCV braved the cold weather to help maintain the wildlife pocket park and community orchard at Churchdown. The group cleared bramble from the orchard, widened the paths in the woodland area and gave the willow weave tunnel some much needed TLC.

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Weaving in the loose willow and giving the tunnel a much needed haircut.

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The tunnel of Love. Weaving in willow above head height with frozen fingers was indeed a labour of love,


Despite the cold start the group enjoyed their visit and showed that GVCV are not a ‘fair weather’ group.


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A cold but happy team at the end of the day. Just look at those ice crystals in the sky.

2022.11.20 Churchdown Parish Park

Churchdown Park Task Report

20 Nov 22

Eight volunteers came to the wildlife area near Churchdown Parish Council Offices to help maintain the site, following the management plan which was prepared for the site by Candy. We were welcomed by Ann and Stuart who oversee the popular site for the Parish. The main task was to clear reeds and vegetation from two of the wildlife ponds, to prevent bulrushes from dominating and to provide a diverse habitat.

Trina, Lorraine and Chris getting stuck into the first pond:


Pond two:


Part-way done, Chris and Candy clearing by pulling reeds and cutting tougher ones with shears: IMG_0399.jpg

Nearly there:


One clear pond:


Meanwhile, Dave and Rob cleared brambles around the orchard to prevent the fruit trees from becoming smothered:



Once the ponds were done (and feet warmed up) we all spent a little while tidying up the willow-weave tunnel (Trina and Rob here):


Candy and Anthony also re-staked a tree and removed plastic guards from a hedgeline that is now becoming established.

It was a productive day and we have agreed to look at returning in January to do more willow-weaving, clear the next pond, and move (hopefully) dried reeds into a corner of the site where they can compost down.

Dave B

2022.07.31 Prestbury Butterfly Reserve

GVCV Task Report – Prestbury Butterfly Reserve

31 July 2022

Seven GVCV volunteers turned out on a changeable and occasionally damp Sunday to clear Willowherb from this butterfly reserve near Cheltenham. 

Roger, Anthony, Vanessa, Chris, Jon, Candy and Dave attended with Landscape Officer Jen Gilbert and Prestbury volunteer and champion cake-maker Serena. 

Willowherb is native but can come to dominate grassland, preventing other plants and wildflowers from growing and reducing the diversity of habitats and food sources required to support a broader range of butterflies.  It is perennial and produces lots of seeds, so can be suppressed by cutting when in flower or progressively eradicated by pulling it out by the roots.

Tools used – ‘dumpy bags’, strimmers, gloves.  Rakes unnecessary.

We took a mixed strategy – avoiding a dense patch where wrens and possibly whitethroats were still nesting – pulling it out in one area and suppressing a further patch we didn’t have time to pull by strimming.  An area around the size of a tennis court was cleared, by keeping doing this year-on-year the amount of willowherb on the reserve can be progressively reduced.

Dense patch with nesting birds left for next time

Hand-pulling the willowherb

Candy’s support truck and machinery

Jen, Chris, Roger and Jon working hard

Jen, Serena, Chris, Vanessa and Jon under a threatening sky

The ‘last ones standing’ when we pulled stumps for the day – Vanessa, Jon, Chris, Candy and Jen

2022.05.21 GVCV Social at Nailsworth Festival

2022.05.21 GVCV Social at Nailsworth Festival

On Saturday 21st May 2022, the Gloucester Vale ‘crew’ made the most of smashing Spring weather to visit the Nailsworth festival and Weighbridge Inn for lunch. The day included a very traditional duck race, live music, locally produced stuff and a good excuse to catch up over a pint. GVCV has socials throughout the year giving us an opportunity to catch up between tasks and visit new places.

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2022.05.22 Churchdown planting and pond works

Churchdown Park – Gloucester Vale Conservation Volunteers task 22 May 22

This task was arranged to help maintain Churchdown Park – a popular community space – for use by wildlife and by people.

Our regular group was joined by three enthusiastic helpers from Dowty Propellers (a GE subsidiary) who were keen to get outdoors together, build teamwork and contribute to the local community. The Dowty three planted the side of a tump with shrubs that will provide habitat and nectar for butterflies and bees.


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Nearly done

The group also cleared blanket weed from four of five ponds on the site, to prevent de-oxygenation and help pond biodiversity. Excitingly, great crested newts were found during this work (as well as smooth newts, dragonfly larvae and nesting moorhens). Work was curtailed to avoid disturbance to these creatures. Finding and identifying these will help guide appropriate management in future.

Pond clearing

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A healthier pond, showing community use

The team also found other work on the site: clearing nettles from a willow ‘tunnel’, modifying tree guards to help a (GVCV) previously-planted hedge to grow and discovering and clearing some invasive Himalayan balsam which we found on of the site.

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Anthony helping the hedge

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Balsam pulling

Evil Himalayan balsam

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Part of the team – still smiling

We even took time to enjoy a tea break ☺

2022.01.16 Hempsted Infill Site tree planting

The weather thawed for Gloucester Vale’s first ever task at the Hempsted Infill (former landfill) site.

There are plans to convert the site over several years into a new country park for the benefit of the local community and wildlife. We spent the task planting over 300 trees to help establish a new woodland on the site boundary.

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The “Before” picture with mesh to mark the area to be planted this time and a wheelbarrow full of compost to give the saplings a good start.

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The “loneliness of a long distance tree planter” Sounds like the title of a book to me. Just look at that sky, to die for if you are a landscape painter.

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The middle part of the task. All beavering away digging pits, planting whips, composting around the base, fitting protective sleeves around the whip and supporting cane to prevent deer etc from having the saplings for breakfast, leaning backwards on ones spade to ease an aching back.

Tree planting is a great way to stay warm during a winter task and the sunshine made for a great day out. Thank you to Mez from the Wildlife Trust and the local team for hosting.

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The finished product. Only a few short years and it will be a forest, hopefully.