All posts by RichardC

Ruskin Mill Hedgelaying 27 November 2017

A welcome return to the farm at Ruskin Mill for a spot of hedgelaying. Continuing with the same hedge with a lot more hazel and less thorn than last time. Three of us attended and we were joined by a few volunteers at Ruskin. Successful days work and very pleased with what we achieved. Hopefully to return in Jan/Feb 2018.



Stinchcombe Hill 22 October 2017

A welcome return to this grassland site on the outskirts of Dursley, managed by the Stinchcombe Hill Trust.

Overlooking Dursley, 6 of us, along with 3 Stinchcombe Hill volunteers, helped the site manager cut back encroaching dogwood, wayfaring tree along with beech saplings. This was on a stretch of wildflower rich grassland that is habitat for many butterfly species as well as other invertebrates including some rare moths and beetles.

A good day’s work which ended in bright sunshine.

Aldwick Wood Kemerton

On a windy and sometimes showery day four keen volunteers set to removing an old fence from in the wood. The aim is for the estate to be able to erect a larger deer-proof fence to enable Ash regeneration without them being nibbled. The hope is that at least some of the Ash will be able to survive Ash die-back.

Quite a hard task to undertake, with some of the fence engulfed in undergrowth, however, we managed to clear nearly half the fence.

Kemerton Conservation Trust is a forward thinking organisation involved in both commercial farming alongside conservation of the landscape and it’s wildlife.

We hope to return to complete the task at the end of July,

Alney Island walk

On Sunday three of us ventured out into the wilds of backwater Gloucester. Alney island is a small, mainly grassland, reserve on the outskirts of the City flanked on either side by the River Severn and acts as a flood plain. It was quite a windy day so we weren’t so lucky in seeing many butterflies (Green-veined White, Orange Tip,  Large White, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and Tortoiseshell) but enjoyed the varied habitats and plants. We also walked over Telford’s Bridge and across to Over Wharf to look at the small stretch of Hereford and Gloucester Canal. On our way round we saw some of the Gloucester cattle that graze the site (along with some longhorns at times) and heard a Cuckoo near to the Electricity sub station. We also paid a visit to the Docks for a bite to eat.

In all a wonderful area of open space that deserves to be visited.


Quedgeley LNR

With six volunteers we continued our work on the main path by adding more chippings where it had become a bit muddy, also further on by another entrance to the reserve. We also cut back some bramble encroaching near to path and bramble/clematis from some grass scallops near to the pond, hopefully to give plants a bit more room and prevent them being swamped by the clematis in particular (although we were careful not to lose all of this and the bramble as good nectar/ food sources for insects).

Another task was to start coppicing some of the overgrown hazel to give a new lease of life.

Whilst there we spotted Brimstone and Peacock butterflies as well as fish in the pond and possibly frogs although difficult to see these clearly.

raking chippings on path

Clearing some bramble near pond
coppicing hazel

Beggarboys reserve, Kemerton

Beggarboys is a small nature reserve, formerly a fishing lake, with willow carr, sedge and reed beds. On one side is a bund which has become overgrown with trees, shrubs and bramble. Our task was to continue opening up the bund (with the added aim of preventing large roots eventually leading to leaks) by clearing small trees and scrub – the landowner was going to treat stumps to stop regrowth. Five of us turned up for the task and managed to clear quite a bit of material from the bund, which was put on the far side away from the lake. It was a grey day with bouts of rain, light snow and quite windy.

Since our last visit in November the water levels had increased significantly which was a good sign that the bund was holding OK.

Ruskin Mill Hedgelaying

Four of us ventured out to Ruskin Mill, Nailsworth to continue laying a stretch of hedge leading up to the farm near Horsley. It was a dry and cool day, just right for the task in question.  We managed to almost complete the stretch of hedge that has been worked on by ourselves and students/apprentices from Ruskin Mill college over the last few years.

laying pleachers

Pleacher is the term for a laid stem – partially cut through either with saw or billhook/axe just leaving a ‘hinge’ making sure the cambium layer just below the bark is intact (see below). This is where the flow of nutrients and water are drawn up into the tree.

completed pleachers

New shoots will appear along the stem and from base in spring

putting points on stakes ready to knock into hedge at about 1m spacing

Stakes are used along with ‘heatherings’ (binders made from thinner stems cut from the hedge) which have been stripped (known as ‘snedding’) and wound through the stakes to hold the pleachers in place.

Happy Hedgers

The completed hedgelaying task and a very satisfying end to the day.

Ruskin Mill Hedgelaying

With a group of 6 volunteers we helped lay part of a hedge at Ruskin Mill farm, Nailsworth. This is a continuation of previous tasks in the early part of the year on a long stretch of mixed species hedge that runs the length of the track leading from Hay lane to the farm. Students/apprentices at Ruskin College have also been contributing to the task of laying this hedge.

We began with clearing any dead material or growth that would inhibit laying the main trees and shrubs. This section was mostly hazel with blackthorn at the back of the hedge.  The group had a mix of experienced, limited experience and novice hedgelayers, who had a chance to be involved in the whole process as we managed to stake and add binders(heatherings) to part of the hedge.

The aim is to be able to complete the whole hedge this season so we are hoping to fit another task in in February.


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Beggarboys Reserve Kemerton

This is a small wetland reserve at Westmancote nr Bredon, part of the Kemerton Estate.  Previously a set of fish ponds (in the 70’s) and now a small lake with willow carr, sedge and reed beds. A bund surrounding the lake has been left unmanaged and willow/ash and scrub have moved in. Our task was to start removing some of these to open up the site and to try and prevent the bund being damaged eventually by roots and leaking. We felled a few small willows, cleared fallen living trees that were re-rooting in the lake, removed bramble/rose scrub. There is still plenty to do so that much of the bund is open and becomes a grassy bank.



Richard Catlin