11-Jan-22

Today’s working party of eleven volunteers met up at the Holywell pumping station to sort out a logjam near the upstream wooden footbridge. The weather was fairly bright, fairly damp and fairly mild – but very muddy under foot at the work location.


If you remember the big beech that fell across the path on the north bank just down from the upper footbridge – which we cleared on 2nd December – well, its branches also fell into the river, creating a logjam, which has since accumulated floating detritus from upstream. Clearing this was today’s task.


The procedure was the familiar combination of cutting branches up with the chainsaw, pulling them out with hand winches (three of which were in use) and using bowsaws and loppers to break them up. The logs, branches and twigs were placed on the other side of the path and well away from the water.


Here are some photos to give an idea of the work.

Photograph A. Logjam beforehand

Photograph B. Winching large branches out

Photograph C. Removing smaller branches

Photograph D. Logjam at end session

Unfortunately, the footpath at that spot was in a particularly muddy condition, in fact the muddiest part of the path system that we saw on the day – see Photo A. It happens to be at the spot where a sewer was damaged by the falling tree. That damage was repaired by Northumbrian Water, but there still seems to be a problem with the drainage.


By the way, the culvert that takes a hillside gully under the path just downstream from where we were working was blocked – again. We unblocked it today. Keeping the gullies clear and the paths not-too-muddy is a never-ending task at this time of the year.

Photograph E. Clearing gully

Wildlife seen and heard:

great spotted woodpecker heard drumming

jay giving its alarm call

robins, jackdaws, etc – the usual suspects

the cattle were lowing a lot at Crowhall Farm – but they’re not wildlife!

The logjam was so big that we couldn’t clear it today, although we are more than half way there. Watch this space for further developments.

 

18-Jan-22

Ten volunteers assembled at the Holywell pumping station on this frosty morning to complete the clearance of the logjam near the upstream footbridge. It was a chilly but clear morning; the frost soon cleared down in the Dene, but conditions got rather muddy.


The session was pretty much a repeat of last week’s session, so there’s not much original to say. Three winches were in use, pulling branches out of the logjam. Three of us had waders on and were splashing about in the cold water of the river, disentangling the branches and throwing them up onto the bank. The others were operating the winches, cutting up branches with bowsaws and loppers before disposing them in piles on the other side of the footpath. The chainsaw was deployed on several occasions to truncate larger branches.


This is how things looked early in the session. Note the large remaining pile of branches and twigs in the river. As you can see, a large branch is being winched out.

Photograph A. Winching a branch up

Here’s a view of the proceedings from the other bank.

Photograph B. Clearing logjam

Well, we managed to clear the logjam by the end of the session, so there’s not much to see now, but if you happen to go past the site – on the north bank just down from the upper wooden bridge, where the big fallen beech is – you can see the huge piles of branches we have removed from the river and, earlier, from the path.

Photograph C. Some of the removed material

Photograph D. The end result

Wildlife:

a great spotted woodpecker was drumming away on one of the beeches close to the tunnel

a skein of maybe a hundred wild geese, of unknown species, flew overhead at one point

the earth can’t be too frozen because fresh mole-hills were seen by the path

Otherwise things were quite quiet (apart from a loud unexplained bang in the distance mid-morning).


We are still clearing the damage caused by the 27th November storm, and there is another logjam to clear upstream. No rest for the wicked!


25-Jan-22

A 10-volunteer working party turned out at Crowhall Farm this morning to sort out the logjams in the river upstream of the tunnel on a dull, muddy day.


First, as usual, we unloaded the tools from our smart new red van. Next, with the team assembled and the wheelbarrows loaded up with kit, off we went on foot to the work site. This meant passing through the farmyard, giving us a chance to see the cattle, which are still looking healthy despite being cooped up semi-indoors for several months. They must be looking forward to the spring.


When we arrived at the site, the scene was like this:

Photograph A. Logjam before

I.e. a complex tangle of fallen willows (brought down by Storm Arwen) and branches washed down from upstream, with the usual tail-back of scum and litter.


So, out came the hand winch, the chainsaw, a couple of bowsaws and miscellaneous loppers and log-tongs, and we set about sorting it all out. Four of us donned waders and got into the burn and started to wrestle with the logjam. The others remained on the bank to operate the winch and transfer the woody detritus to suitable places away from the river.

Photograph B. River clearance operations

After we had got the main logjam sorted out, we slowly progressing upstream unpicking several lesser jams. That kept us busy all session. One of us stumbled and got water inside his waders a couple of times – ouch, on a cold day! Otherwise it was a successful session, and a lot of material was cleared from the river, and a lot of litter removed also.

Photograph C. Logjam after

The wildlife scene was flat today, with the weather being so dull, but we noticed:

a jay, calling in the woods

a great spotter woodpecker

various fungi

molehills near the path

Watch this space for the next instalment of the adventures of the Friends of Holywell Dene taskforce.

 


1-Feb-22

There was a good turnout of twelve volunteers this morning at Newburgh Avenue, to clear fallen trees and river blockages near the humpback bridge at the Seaton Delaval end of the Dene. Fortunately, the weather was good for task work: bright and breezy.


The first task, which involved a flying squad of a minority of the volunteers, was to clear a big fallen beech tree upstream of the humpback bridge. Here it is:

Photograph A. Big fallen beech tree

The chainsaw and hand-winch were deployed, as so often this winter, to break up this obstruction.

Photograph B. Tree being cut up and removed

This having been accomplished, and the path having been cleared, the tree clearance squad joined the main team who had been tackling a couple of blockages on the river below the humpback bridge. One of these had been caused by a recently-fallen willow and the other by an ash tree that had fallen into the burn long ago and which had built up a dam of branches, twigs and leaves carried down from upstream.

Photograph C. Tree in river

These were chopped up using bowsaws and the pieces removed.

Photograph D. Removing a branch from river

By the time the first squad arrived, the first of these obstructions had been removed and the second had been reduced to a trunk across the river. At this point, the trunk was cut with the chainsaw and then winched out onto the bank.

Photograph E. Chain-sawing ash tree

Next the working party moved downstream to another blockage, this was caused by an ash tree falling on top of a tall willow that must have come down earlier.

Photograph F. Trees blocking river

These trees had masses of branches, which all had to be hacked off by bowsaw and thrown onto the bank. Next, the stem of the willow was cut through. One end was light enough to be manhandled out of the river on one side, while the other had to be hand-winched, with difficulty, up a steep slope on the other side.

Photograph G. Dealing with willow trunk

Working in the river is always difficult, what with the uneven bottom and the slippery stones. One of us had a couple of falls in the water, but fortunately was wearing waders and did not suffer either injury or the discomfort of cold water ingress! Your correspondent got a wellie-full of cold water at one point, however.


We have had to deal with the destruction caused by three storms now: Storm Arwen (the worst), Storm Malik and Storm Corrie. We are wondering when it will all come to an end and we can get back to more routine winter tasks, such as path repair.

 


8-Feb-22

Twelve volunteers met up at Newburgh Avenue, Seaton Delaval, this morning for another session of river clearance on a dull but dry day. A certain sense of déjà vu attended the activities today. We encountered yet another two trees that had fallen across and into the river near the humpback bridge, somewhat downstream of the location of last Tuesday’s session.


The first was a beech, and it was a big one, as the photos show.

Photograph A. Fallen beech

We were not able to remove all the branches, despite using all the usual array of chainsaw, hand-winches and bowsaws, but a huge logjam of branches, twigs and leaves has been removed and the river can now flow freely under the remaining branches.

Photograph B. Beech almost sorted

After that exertion, and after a break for a hot drink and a chat, we moved downstream to the next obstacle. This was some kind of willow or poplar with two trunks, both of which had come down across the burn. One of the stems had crashed onto a small ivy-clad oak and demolished it. Fortunately, the larger of the two trunks had come to rest fairly high above the river and only needed its lower branches trimming. The smaller trunk was a major obstacle however.

Photograph C. Fallen willow

We removed this bit-by-bit using the chainsaw and winch again. All the removed material was dragged onto the bank and dumped in piles well above flood level. We don’t want this stuff being washed downstream to block the river again when the next flood happens!

Photograph D. Willow being sorted

For this job, part of the team were in the river with waders and long gloves on and the other part were on the bank operating the winch and dragging the logs and branches up onto higher ground. Both waders and gloves are a nuisance to get on and off, and tend to get damp inside; nevertheless, we wouldn’t be without them as they keep us warm, more-or-less dry and, in the case of gloves, protected from damage to the hands.


Not many walkers were out today: only two dog-walkers. This is a part of the Dene that is not used much. The woods had an eerie feel and there was hardly any wildlife to be seen or heard, nor much sign of new plant growth.


If you want to inspect our work and admire the size of the wood piles we built up, you need to park in Newburgh Avenue, which is at the far south-western corner of Seaton Delaval, then walk across the grassy area to the trees and descend to the river’s edge. The scene of the activity was somewhat down-river from there.


Incidentally, if you are wondering why we do all this, well the pros and cons are roughly as follows.


Pro:

The blockages look a mess if left.

Unsightly scum and litter build up behind them.

Con:

The effort of clearing them.

Logjams constrain flood surges (but there are no settlements downstream to protect).

And it keeps us busy. Watch this space for further developments.

 


15-Feb-22

The working party that assembled at Thornhill Close at the western end of Seaton Delaval today was smaller than usual – nine volunteers – and predictably the task was river clearance once again. A large ash tree had fallen across the river recently (presumably a Storm Arwen casualty) causing a big logjam, and just upstream from that another tree had earlier fallen across and had pushed a couple of small sycamores into the river.

Photograph A. Two trees down

Three of us put waders on and got into the water and another helped in wellies. The chainsaw was soon buzzing as the smaller upstream obstruction was sorted out. The two small sycamores were cut up and the pieces dragged out by the team on the bank and dumped on higher ground.


Meanwhile downstream: the branches of the big fallen ash had trapped lots of river litter in the time since it fell – mainly branches, twigs and leaves but also some plastic litter – so a big clean-up was necessary. This took the whole of the rest of the session.

Photograph B. Clearing the logjam

As usual, a winch was anchored to a tree close to the river and the winch cable was used to haul the larger branches out and to disentangle some of the piles of interlocking branches. Bowsaws were also used to break up branches prior to hauling them out.


As usual we removed all the litter that we encountered – mainly plastic bottles and bags, but also a vacuum cleaner head, a large lump of polystyrene and the remains of a burned-out wheelie bin, plus other unidentifiable items.


By the end of the session there are still some branches extending across the water, but they are high enough up not to cause an obstruction even in spate conditions. That small stretch of the river is now clear and free-flowing. But we know there is at least one more blockage in that stretch. So no rest for the wicked!

Photograph C. Obstruction cleared

Wildlife? Well, we do not get much of a chance to look out for birds etc when we are busy in the river, and the sound of the chainsaw tends to scare them away.

A huge flock of woodpigeons dispersed out of the trees as we arrived.

A robin was singing part of the time.  

Black blobs of fungus that look like burnt scones were spotted on the tree trunk, and we think they are called King Alfred’s cakes – after an unfortunate incident eleven centuries ago!


There were not many dog-walkers or other Dene users to talk to today. The soggy grassland close to the Dene edge had been churned up by horses and was a bit off-putting to walkers.


The weather changed during the task, from dull and drizzly to bright and windy by the end of the session. We hear that there are two more big storms coming: Storm Dudley on Wednesday and Storm Eunice on Friday. Will it ever end?

 


22-Feb-22

The volunteer squad assembled near Hartley West Farm this morning for another river clearance session and some fence repair work. There was a bit of rain beforehand, which made the ground very muddy, but during the session the rain held off and in fact it was quite a nice, bright day.


The work party was divided into three groups. The first was tasked with improving the safety fencing at the stile at the upstream end of the meadow, while the other two groups stationed themselves on either side of the river a bit downstream from there to sort out yet another logjam dating from Storm Arwen back in November.

Photograph A. Fallen tree in river on 29 November

Several of us put waders on and got into the river, while several others set up a winch on the south bank, anchoring one end of the winch cable to a tree and paying out the other end to the logs being removed from the logjam. The rest of the team set about pulling branches out onto the north bank – the meadow side – while the larger logs were winched across the river at an angle and out onto the south bank.

Photograph B. Logjam cleared

Meanwhile, fencing work was in progress. As you will know, the path westward from the meadow rises up to a stile and thereabouts the bank falls away steeply to the river on the left. Some fencing is therefore needed here to keep the public out of the river! The task today was to extend the existing fence in both directions. New treated timber fenceposts and horizontal rails were installed while the river clearance work was going on. The last screws were being put in place as the other volunteers were clearing away tools after the river clearance work.

Photograph C. New fencework

Wildlife:

Spring is coming, and the meadow area is looking greener. The snowdrops are in bloom and some daffodils are beginning to show.

A robin came to inspect the fencing work, and was persuaded to come down to the hand of one of the volunteers for a treat in the form of a few biscuit crumbs.

A treecreeper was seen foraging up a tree trunk, a grey wagtail was seen flitting about near the river, and a kestrel was spotted hovering overhead near the Hartley West Farm cattle grid.

A tawny owl was recently seen looking out from a hole in a tree near the upstream wooden footbridge.

A large flock of noisy pink-footed geese lifted from a field near the Hartley Lane carpark around 9 o’clock.

Photograph D. Flock of geese

 


1-Mar-22

A working party of nine assembled at the stone bridge on the Hartley West Farm road at the usual time of 9:00 today to do footpath work at the side waterfall. There was frost on the ground at first but the sun was well above the horizon as we started work, so we soon warmed up. In fact, it was a pleasant, sunny and still day, but very muddy underfoot.


Our team leader was self-isolating with covid and today – get well soon! – and we were determined to show that we could deliver results regardless. It was necessary to crack on because there is such a backlog of path maintenance work after the 3-month distraction of clearing up after all the storm damage.


The sole task of the day was installing some steps on the sloping path leading up to the angled boardwalk at the side waterfall opposite the meadow. This slope has been getting very churned up and slippery, so something had to be done.

Photograph A. Site before

We had brought some old patio boards and we proposed to recycle these and some old fencing timber to make a staircase structure. This work involved the usual use of saw and screwdriver by the volunteers experienced in DIY work. The structure, which resembled a ladder, was constructed in two parts before being put in place and secured to the ground. Next, stones were placed in the gaps between the steps.

Photograph B. Construction in progress

Meanwhile, Operation Aggregate was under way – the wheelbarrowing of large quantities of gravel from a pile on the opposite side of the river near the stone bridge to the side-waterfall site. This was in fact the most labour-intensive part of the job, and it was made difficult by the fact the south-side path to the waterfall has many ups and downs and steps and tree roots!

Photograph C. Shovelling gravel

The gravel was tipped into the spaces between the steps in the new structure and smoothed with a rake. And by 12 noon the job was done, and a significant improvement has been made to the infrastructure of the Dene. In a month or two, it will have blended in and will look as if it has always been there.

Photograph D. Finished result

The wildlife in the Dene is livelier now that spring is on its way. Here are some of the things we saw and heard:

a flock of geese, probably pink-footed, was seen swirling over the fields to the east of the Hartley Lane carpark

the daffodils are beginning to bloom in the meadow area

a dipper (a river bird) was spotted by a volunteer gleaning rocks from the river bed for the new structure

there was plenty of birdsong from dunnocks, robins, blue tits, coal tits, etc

the rooks, jackdaws and woodpigeons were making their usual noises


There were quite a few dog-walkers, joggers and bird-watchers out on a fine sunny day. One of them had a young dog that took fright at the sight of a team of volunteers in bright yellow tabards and refused to go past us. It’s a reminder that it’s advisable to bring a lead when walking an inexperienced dog in the Dene – you never know when it will be needed.


We seem to have got over the tree clearance work that has taken up so much time over the last three months. Perhaps we can now get back to the path-repair and gully-clearance tasks that we ought to have been doing during the winter. Watch this space


8-Mar-22

The task for the nine volunteers of today’s working party was to perform some path and tree maintenance at the Seaton Sluice end of the Dene. It was a lovely sunny day, but there was a cold wind, so we had to keep busy to stay warm.


Phase 1 of the exercise was installing steps on the steep path leading down from the street called Millfield to the estuary path. As usual with path work, a lot of gravel was needed, so some of us got busy with mattock and shovel to dig gravel – actually recycled road planings – out of a pile near St Paul’s Church and wheelbarrow it to where it was needed.


Meanwhile the steps were being installed. These had been pre-assembled out of recycled timber, and just had to be dug in and secured with stakes and screws. The new steps were then infilled with gravel and levelled off.

Photograph A. Installing steps

The path at this point is steep, and was stony and therefore slippery in wet and icy conditions. We have had several requests that something be done. Well something finally has been done: four steps are now in place at the steepest part of the path, so it should be safer and easier to navigate than before.


I think it will be appreciated, because we got some positive feedback from the public – a few people said “well done” (rather than the more usual “do you lot ever do any work between your tea breaks?”).

Photograph B. Completed steps

We now (admittedly after a tea break) proceeded to phase 2. This saw us migrate down to the path between the wooden estuary footbridge (the “pipe bridge”) and the wooden seat upstream of it. The first thing to be done was to repair a broken pathside fence. A broken section of the top rail was replaced with a length of wood from a fallen-down fence further upstream.

Photograph C. Repaired fence

Meanwhile the main part of the working party were pruning some of the lower branches off the trees we had planted along the straight section of riverside path several years ago. These had been in danger of obstructing the path. It was decided also to remove the plastic cylindrical guards from the trunks of these trees as they are no longer needed. (We took them away at the end of the task.)


By the way, if you have ever wondered where garden snails go to in winter – well, inside tree guards is a favourite spot. The snails obviously regard them as a cosy and safe hibernation place. Many of the guards had clusters of snails inside them.


And while we were in that area, we decided to do a bit of maintenance on the woven willow structure near the bench, which is designed to keep dogs from rushing down to the river and eroding the river-bank. So, prunings from the willows were woven into the existing structure to reinforce it, and some of the smaller ones were pushed into the ground to, hopefully, strike root and further reinforce the barrier.

Photograph D. Willow-weaving

That was about it for one day. There was not much wildlife to report, but the daffodils were putting on a good show on the bank side where we installed the steps. Some goldfinches were singing nearby, and a moorhen was heard making an alarm call near the river.


It only remained to lug all the tools and disused tree guards back up to the van parked at the dene top, and to disperse to our homes for lunch, having ticked off yet another item on the to-do list of Holywell Dene.

 

 


15-Mar-22

A magnificent eleven volunteers turned out at an unusual venue today – Sandown Close in Seaton Delaval – for yet another river clearance session, on an unusually mild spring day.


When we parked our van in the cul-de-sac, we asked one of the householders whether it was OK to park there and were told “why don’t you park in our drive?” – so we did. Thanks to her for making life a lot easier!


After a bit of a parlay (and with your correspondent arriving last, not for the first time) we set off with our wheelbarrows loaded with tools and other kit. On a pleasant sunny morning, we walked through the orchard established by the citizens of Seaton Delaval and Holywell a year or two ago, which seems to be developing successfully.


There were about three major blockages to clear and several minor ones. We worked from a point downstream of the humpback bridge near Newburgh Avenue down to the tunnel under the old mineral railway near to Sandown Close. As usual, a hand-winch, the chainsaw and various bowsaws and loppers were deployed.

Photograph A. River blockage

Four of us (two female, two male) got into the river with waders on and set about removing the branches, large and small, that were blocking the river in various places. The landward party operated the winch and lifted the branches out of the water to dump them on high ground.

Photograph B. Winching log out

It has to be said that the trees that were blocking the Seaton Burn today were probably not ones felled by the winter storms. They mostly looked as if they had been in the river a long time.


As usual, litter was a problem, and we amassed several black bags full of plastic, metal and glass litter that had been stuck in the logjams and lodged in the river-bank.

Photograph C. Tunnel entrance – clear

There was not much interaction with the public today, as we were in a secluded part of the Dene. We had a chance to admire the rarely-seen but impressive Victorian stonework of the tunnel entrance, though.


Wildlife:

The first chiffchaff of the spring was seen and heard. These small and nondescript birds migrate here every spring from north Africa. They eat insects and take advantage of the abundance of insect life in this country in the warmer months to feed their young. And they are easy to identify from their calls because, like the cuckoo, they say their own name: “chiff chaff, chiff chaff …”.

A grey wagtail was flitting about on the river and calling.

Daffodils and other spring flowers are erupting everywhere, and leaves are beginning to open on hawthorn bushes and elsewhere.

Photograph D. Chiffchaff.

 


22-Mar-22

The venue for the working party of ten volunteers this morning was the gas pumping station near Concord House in Holywell and the mission was, once again, river clearance again – maybe this is what the Americans would call a “Groundhog Day” event! Anyway, the weather was pleasantly spring-like and not too muddy under foot.


We loaded up three wheelbarrows with kit and descended the path from where the van was parked to the footbridge and then split into two parties, one going upstream as far as the upstream tunnel to start clearance work, and the other sweeping the river downstream of the bridge. Both teams encountered many lesser logjams on the river but the highlight of the day was a fallen ash tree downstream of the footbridge, as follows.

Photograph A. Fallen ash

This gave us a chance to try out a new toy – a pole chainsaw. This is petrol-powered and extendable. And here it is in use.

Photograph B. New tool in use

It is going to be useful for this kind of work as it enables us to lop off the branches of a fallen tree like this one quickly, then break up the thicker branches with the normal chainsaw. This meant that we hardly needed to use the winch for this blockage.


Here is a list of the tools we have been able to purchase recently, all paid for by Northumberland County Council apart from the first item.


one new pole chainsaw, courtesy of Northumbrian Water

one new hedge trimmer (the old one is in bits and might be recoverable)

an impact screwdriver

three 3T slings

five bowsaw blades

After dealing with the fallen ash tree, we took the heavy kit including the hand-winch back up to the van, then returned to the river to continue the downstream sweep. We sorted out numerous obstructions with the usual toolkit of waders, barrows, chainsaw and bowsaws. All the woody material retrieved from the river was stacked well above flood level (hopefully), and all the litter we encountered was bagged up for removal.


Eventually the two parties met up again well downstream, and we pressed on down to just below the path descending from Dale Top. It was then just about time to pack up and go home, so we did.

Photograph C. What a cleared river should look like

There was quite a lot of birdsong today. Here is a summary of the birdlife we encountered.


chiffchaffs (2+)

song thrushes (2)

blackbird

great spotted woodpecker (drumming)

robin

dipper

pair of mallard

grey wagtails (2)

I keep saying it, but I think we might have finished river work for now, so we might be doing something else next week. Watch this space! It won’t be strimming yet – the annual vegetation is only just beginning to peep out of the ground..

 

 


29-Mar-22

Eleven volunteers assembled at the metal gate on Hartley West Farm road today at the usual time of 9:00 to lay a new section of path by the river opposite the gabions. It was a misty, still day but working conditions were good nevertheless.


If you walk along the north bank of the Seaton Burn near Hartley West Farm you will come across a pile of aggregate, and if you look across the river at that point you will see a sycamore tree. And if you look at the bank under the tree, you will notice that it is eroded and undercut. It is obviously not going to be long before it collapses, taking the footpath with it. We had thought of shoring it up, but that would have been a temporary measure at best, so we opted for Plan B: redirect the south-bank path around the other side of the sycamore tree. That was today’s task.

Photograph A. Path before work

How do you redirect a path? Easy, just:

1. Erect a bucket bridge across the river using a winch cable, a runner and a rope.

2. Start shovelling aggregate from the pile via a wheelbarrow into buckets and transfer them across the Burn, storing the aggregate in a heap ready for surfacing the path.

3. Lay out lengths of wood to mark the line of the new path.

4. Dig out the snowdrop plants from the land that is going to be converted into the new path.

5. Plant the snowdrops in suitable places up and down the nearby part of the Dene.

6. Dig and rake the soil along a one-metre swathe that is going to be the new path.

7. Dig shallow trenches along the edges of the path-to-be and fit lengths of recycled timber into place as edging boards.

8. Anchor them using short wooden stakes and screws.

9. Roll out a length of plastic liner to serve as a membrane underlying the path.

10. Cover the liner with aggregate from the pile to a depth of a couple of inches.

11. Rake and compress the path surface.

12. Go home!

13. Oh, and have a tea/coffee break or two on the way.

Photograph B. Replanted snowdrops

Photograph C. Bucket bridge

Photograph D. Laying new path

Well, we got that task more than half done. The new path extends from its eastern end to about level with the tree. We will be back to complete it soon. In the meantime, if you happen to be walking there, just use the old riverside path. It is perfectly safe to use, but maybe keep clear of the river’s edge for now.

Photograph E. Partially-completed new path

What else is there to report? Well nobody fell in the river, despite that fact that we were plodging across it quite a lot to get tools and materials over to the side where we were working. Our lady chairperson and her dog came along, picking litter, as usual, as she went and exchanged a few words. One member of our squad damaged his forehead on the cable stretched across the river, but he is the tallest of the group and apparently he’s used to that sort of thing!


Did we see any wildlife while we were working: yes, but being a misty, dull day it was a bit quiet. Nevertheless:

Robins, as usual, were singing in the trees around us and coming down to inspect our work – no doubt hoping to pick up the odd worm.

Also heard: chiffchaff, wrens, chaffinches, a pheasant and rooks in the trees near the stone bridge.

In flower: daffodils in the meadow area, lesser celandines, wood anemones, primroses and a solitary red campion flower was seen.

At a rough guess we will be back next week to finish this path-redirection task. This work feels a bit more constructive that clearing storm damage and logjams, which has been the weekly fare for about four months. It’s nice to get back to business as usual!