One of those places we love to come back to and today (despite the temperature) 9 of us helped open up the paths in the Pocket Park, remove more water soldier/reedmace/blanket weed from some of the ponds and rewove plus trimmed the willow tunnel in the ponds area.
We only worked for 2 and a half hours but nevertheless got through a lot of work. Well done team!
Four of the group set out from Charlton Kings at 9.30 for a 6 mile walk that took in Dowdeswell Reservoir, Lineover Woods and Ravensgate Common. A perfect morning for walking, not too hot and a bit of a breeze.
Followed Cheltenham Circular from Glenfall Way into grassland and past horse fields looking down towards the A40 (not in view thankfully), before meeting Cotswold Way into a wooded path alongside Dowdeswell Woods. Here, the buzzing of overhead lines soon went away and we reached the reservoir , where some sheep were grazing and Rob contemplated skinny-dipping but thankfully thought better of it for the good of the rest of us.
Crossing the A40 by the old Reservoir Inn – now a restaurant – we climbed up into Lineover Wood (Woodland Trust) up the now made-up path on the edge of the wood. Home to Small and Large-leaved Limes and open flower-rich grassland. Stopped at the top for a bite to eat and viewed some of the panorama across Cheltenham, watching butterflies enjoying the sunshine.
Onwards along Cotswold Way, held up for a while by a Roman Snail crossing the path, none of us had actually seen a live one before (you usually see the empty shells), Steve was particularly entranced by it, thinking about its welfare in getting across the path without being trodden on.
Once we left Lineover there was a steep climb up onto Ravensgate Common but loads of species of plant including Wild Valerian, Birds-foot trefoil and Kidney Vetch and we hoped we may see a Small Blue or two but did come across several Small Heath instead.
Descending down and back onto the Circular Trail through more meadows, including a large display of Betony, we reached Beeches Road and then met the A40 again after going past Balcarras School and Eastend Road, then returning to same grassland that took us back to our cars.
A return visit to this lovely site with a wide range of habitats, play areas and allotments too. Today we continued clearing Water Soldier, Reedmace and blanket weed from five ponds, this allows more light into the ponds and keeps them as waterbodies for all the wildlife that uses them.
An overcast and cooler day for May but welcome in a way, with all our pulling and raking. And we had another chance to use the waders…
We came across a Moorhen nest whilst removing reed so stopped what we were doing and moved on to another pond. Fortunately the hen bird returned to her nest and didn’t seem perturbed. Newts were found in another 2 of the ponds which was exciting.
We had completed much of what we had hoped to do….
Another visit to this wonderful community site in Churchdown – with something for everyone including play area/skate park/allotments/ponds and orchard. Today half a dozen volunteers were active in the pond area (5 ponds and two reed beds), which is part of a flood alleviation or Sustainable Urban Drainage Scheme (SUDS). We were removing some of the reedmace/bulrush, water soldier and blanket weed this opens up the ponds allowing more light in and preventing build up of nutrients from rotting vegetation that sinks to the bottom.
It was a mixed day with sunshine and showers, not that it mattered us being immersed in water (well some of us were), testing out the new waders to full effect.
We almost completed the work but sadly a leak became apparent in the waders which stopped us splashing about in ponds. Fortunately this occurred in Pond E, the last one so we had managed t o remove about 25% of the reedmace – just 50% more to do in January when we return.
After a spot of lunch, making use of the picnic benches supplied and partaking of some mince pies (as you do this time of year), we adjourned to some brambles nearby to clear these away from the ditch and fence line. Again, to be continued…..
The troops were called in to help Churchdown Parish Council plant some trees that would have been part of a community project. The first task was to put in nearly 200 saplings (whips), from The Woodland Trust, along the line of an original hedge by their pond area. This area is a little gem for the community – 5 small ponds, copse. orchard, playing field and children’s play area with skate park.
Here we put in a varied mix of native species, slit-planting with stakes and rabbit guard (to be removed in a few years time and recycled). Enough space to spread out too.
The crew made simple work of it and we were done here, in the winter sunshine, in no time at all. Well done everyone, can’t wait to see it all growing up.
Now for part 2…
2. John Daniels Park
So, after out lunch break by the ponds in Churchdown Park we set off to John Daniels Way to plant a double row hedge by the chain-link fence at the far end of the playing field.
The weather was definitely with us as we used up the rest of the trees (about 150 left) to plant and hopefully provide a screen to the fence and a habitat for insects, birds and mammals once established. Quite hard to plant into as thick clay so a bit of extra digging involved.
We didn’t quite have enough to go all the way along so hope to be back next year to finish this off. Thanks again to all the volunteers for their efforts.
A return visit to this site, on Kemerton Estate land, where we have been removing certain trees and scrub from alongside a wild flower-rich verge. Much of the hawthorn and field maples were to be left on the line of an old wall.
Six valiant volunteers armed with loppers, bowsaws and shears made further headway into the task and now a fair strip of the verge is open to the sunlight and ready for the next growing season. We came across a large Crab Apple tree and tested the fruit – a little sharp but edible. This was left in situ along with plenty of berry bearing hawthorn and also some mistletoe that was packed with berries. Good for the winter thrushes and other birds.
Despite an odd shower the day was quite bright with good views towards the Avon Valley. We finished just in time as the rain became more persistent. still some left to do but we made3 good progress
Today we were working for the Kemerton Estate – an environmentally responsible farm and estate. Below Bredon Hill nr Westmancote removing small trees (except much of the Hawthorn and Field Maple as well as some Crab Apple/Wildings) and bramble that are encroaching on a wild flower-rich verge at the side of the Oat Hill track. We piled the cuttings into the nearby field in small piles so the estate can check for hedgehogs etc before burning the material. The aim is to increase the diversity of plants and maintain it as a verge. Still plenty more to do and hopefully we will return here next year.
Today the group visited Quedgeley reserve to reinstate the dead hedge by the pond (that had sadly been vandalised). The group (5 of us) were split between working by the pond and clearing plus weeding the hedge at main entrance to the reserve.
We used some wood that had been cut previously to make stakes and hammered these in to holes, making them very sturdy and hopefully difficult to uplift. then weaved in longer pieces to about 5 ft or so. Access is now round to the left rather than directly alongside edge of pond.
The hedge at front also got a make-over with about a metre or two being strimmed and under hedge weeded of nettle and bindweed. We added several inches (or centimetres) of chippings to try and suppress the weeds. The hedge (planted a few years ago) is doing very well, only 5 more years or so and we can lay it.
Today the group worked on the Orchard off Queen’s Road Tewkesbury. This is part of the larger Tewkesbury Nature Reserve(TNR) tewkesburynaturereserve.org.uk a natural floodplain of mostly grassland, grazed by sheep and cattle. There have been a few scrapes recently added to improve the biodiversity particularly for birds. The orchard is linked to the Priors Park Neighbourhood Project which includes allotments.
The work was to remove encroaching vegetation and create a wide path to the rear. Six of us took part and we were visited by a member of TNR who is responsible for volunteer work parties at the site. We managed to clear an area of mostly bramble and blackthorn that opened up the site and freed around some of the fruit trees planted here including plum. apple and pear giving more light and reducing competition. Compost heaps are also envisaged for the area to supply the next door allotments.
A pleasant days work with good weather and keen volunteers and a satisfactory task completed