Activity Reports

 

Friends of Poets’ Walk

 4th Quarterly Report 2018  October – December

 The Volunteer Workforce

Sixteen individual volunteers contributed to Thursday afternoon working parties between the beginning of October and the end of December. These include 2 new volunteers in the paths team. We missed 2 regular members due to illness.

Attendance per Thursday session, which comprises a paths group and a habitats group, ranged between 4 (on a drizzly day) and 14. The average was 9 per session.

Working parties took place on 11 Thursday afternoons. On Monday 12th November, three members of Clevedon Civic Society assisted Friends volunteers in barrowing down c. 14 tons of rubble from the battery site (24 volunteer hours). The total number of volunteer working hours was 251.

Working Party tasks

4th quarter map 2018.docx

All tasks were based on the Poets’ Walk Management Plan.

The tidying of the formal paths, steps and seats was ongoing and included sweeping of slippery autumn leaves and tidying paths and steps for our neighbour, Marlens.

Work on Wain’s Hill concentrated on sorting and clearing away rubble and debris from the old gun battery site.

The annual late summer cut (and initial raking off) of the Wain’s Hill ramparts was handed over to Green Mantle – the volunteers having regularly scythed this slope since first clearing the scrub in 2011/12. The volunteers then raked the arisings deeper into the woodland to create habitat piles.

On Church Hill, overgrowing blackthorn along the formal path that leads out to the coast path was cut back. The quarry glade adjacent to this path was further enhanced by partially exposing the rock face and scrub-clearing in the immediate area. On the south facing slope, an old and spreading buddleia (along with entangled brambles) was cut back in order to rejuvenate it and to open up the glade to sunlight.

Co-operation

The Friends sincerely appreciate the contribution made by Clevedon Civic Society to the Battery Project by funding and through the hands-on help of dedicated members of the Society’s Environment Group. In November, this enabled us to remove c. 14 tons of unsightly rubble from the site, hiring a grab lorry.

The volunteer scything team is most grateful to Sam Phillips of North Somerset Council for making it possible for the contractor, Green Mantle, to take over the late summer (October) cut and initial raking down of the grass on the Wain’s Hill ramparts. The demands on the volunteer team, mainly due to age and depletion in numbers, had become too great. The team will continue to cut nettles and rank vegetation on the ramparts as necessary during the summer, while allowing the now well-established grass to grow through till the late summer cut, which we hope will continue to be done by Green Mantle.

Publicity

Regular updates appeared on the Monthly Diary page under the section Poets’ Walk on the Clevedon Conservation Volunteers website at:

https://clevedonconservationvolunteers.org/poets-walk/

The Poets’ Walk Map Leaflet is available at various local outlets and can be downloaded  from our website.

Future programme

Work will continue to keep paths and seats tidy, to maintain or improve views, and to keep access points to Church Hill and Wain’s Hill clear. January and February will see follow-up scrub control and some further enhancement of thicket areas and woodland glades.

At the battery site we plan to rebuild a short section of perimeter wall above the ruins of the gun powder store to redirect the public away from this vulnerable feature, which is in need of stabilising.

Angela Slotte – Volunteer coordinator on behalf of the Friends of Poets’ Walk, January 2019

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Friends of Poets’ Walk

 3rd Quarterly Report 2018  July – September

 The Volunteer Workforce

Eighteen individual volunteers contributed to Thursday afternoon working parties between the beginning of July and the end of September. Three additional volunteers, from Clevedon Civic Society, helped on wall building at the battery. There were 3 in the Monday scything team. Attendance per Thursday session ranged from 6 to 13, the average being 10, shared between the habitats team and the paths team.

Working parties took place on 12 Thursday afternoons. One was cancelled due to the heatwave! Scything was done on 3 Monday mornings, totalling 16 hours on Church Hill (September) and 7 on Wain’s Hill (2 July). The total number of volunteer working hours was 331, which included 83 hours on wall building.

Individual ‘off-duty’ volunteers spent at least an hour each week recording species and numbers of butterflies along the Poets’ Walk transect, for the third year.

Working Party Tasks

3rd quarter 2018 map All tasks were based on the Poets’ Walk Management Plan.

The tidying of the formal paths, steps and seats was ongoing.

Ragwort was pulled on both hills In July.

On Church Hill, work centred on follow-up scrub control in woodland glades and the old quarry. Scything of the two slopes overlooking the churchyard took place in September.

A priority on Wain’s Hill was the rebuilding work of section 2 of the wall and the sorting of rubble at the battery site.

Wain’s Hill Battery Project

Ten volunteers from the Friends of Poets’ Walk and Clevedon Civic Society took part in phase 1 part 2 of the battery perimeter wall rebuild between 17th and 19th July. They used 32 bags of lime mortar and worked for a total of 84 hours on site. Work also included pointing of the low front wall with lime mortar, following earlier re-setting of capping stones using cement mortar for quick drying. Sixteen and a half metres (54 feet) of the perimeter wall have now been partially rebuilt and successfully stabilised against further decay.

Butterfly Survey

The national butterfly recording season closed at the end of September and volunteer Bill Thompson reports that we recorded a total of 1,754 butterflies on Poets’ Walk this year as compared with 1,323 last year. His comprehensive summary can be read via the following link.

https://clevedonconservationvolunteers.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/2018-summary-pdf.pdf

 Co-operation

We are again most grateful to Clevedon Civic Society whose funding enabled us to complete the partial rebuild and successful consolidation of a second section of the battery boundary wall, and to Civic Society members for their help during the rebuild.

Thank you to North Somerset Council for responding quickly to another attempt by vandals to destroy the lintel on the WW2 building at the battery, by re-capping the damaged section.

Our thanks go to Sam Phillips of NSC for talking to Green Mantle about taking over the grass cutting on Wain’s Hill ramparts this coming autumn.

 Publicity

Regular updates appeared on the Monthly Diary page under the section Poets’ Walk on the Clevedon Conservation Volunteers website. https://clevedonconservationvolunteers.org/poets-walk/monthly-diary-new/

The Friends of Poets’ Walk Map leaflet is available at various outlets in Clevedon and can be down loaded from the website. https://clevedonconservationvolunteers.org/poets-walk/

 Future programme

We hope that NSC contractor Green Mantle will be able to mow and rake Wain’s Hill ramparts in October (to relieve our depleted scything team). It is now seven years since the scrub was cleared. Rubble will be dug out and sorted at the battery site for collection by grab lorry in November. Other work will involve on-going scrub control, including the further enhancement of the quarry glade on Church Hill.

Angela Slotte – Volunteer coordinator on behalf of the Friends of Poets’ Walk, October 2018

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Friends of Poets’ Walk

 2nd Quarterly Report 2018  April – June

The Volunteer Workforce

Sixteen individual volunteers contributed to Thursday afternoon working parties between the beginning of April and the end of June. In June an additional 2 volunteers made up the Monday scything team of 4.  In May, 5 volunteers from Clevedon Civic Society contributed to the wall building project at the Wain’s Hill battery site. Attendance per Thursday session ranged between 9 and 15. The average was over 11 per session. Working parties took place on 13 Thursday afternoons. Scything on Wain’s Hill (including 2 hours’ brush cutting) was done on 3 Monday mornings and part of 2 Thursday afternoons, totalling 33 hours. Two hours were spent mowing the 1923 path on Church Hill and 4 hours mowing Hack’s Way. The total number of volunteer working hours was 404 and included about a hundred hours on the Wain’s Hill battery wall rebuilding project.

Individual ‘off-duty’ volunteers spent about an hour each week recording species and numbers of butterflies along the Poets’ Walk transect.

Working Party tasks

2nd quarter map 2018

All tasks were based on the Poets’ Walk Management Plan.

The tidying of the formal paths, steps and seats was ongoing.

On Church Hill the quarry site facing the churchyard was partly cleared of scrub and nettles and the lower part of the quarry face cleared of overhanging ivy to improve the habitat and amenity value.

Wild radish on Church Hill was scythed and grubbed out for the 4th successive summer and the population is finally being brought under control. The 1923 path over Church Hill was petrol mown and Hack’s Way mechanically trimmed and tidied to enhance access. The green gate bank beside the churchyard wall was scythed and weeded in May.

On Wain’s Hill work started on rebuilding the gun battery perimeter wall in cooperation with volunteers from Clevedon Civic Society. About 10 metres of wall were partly rebuilt and secured against further deterioration, and capping stones on the low front wall were replaced.

Roy Betts on Church Hill, Poets' WalkEarly summer scything of Wain’s Hill rampart slope took place in June. This normally happy activity was tragically marked this year by the unexpected collapse, while scything, of master mower Roy Betts, due to sudden cardiac arrest. Despite immediate CPR efforts by his colleagues and a rapid, concerted response by emergency services, Roy never regained consciousness and died three days later. Roy had been with the Friends of Poets’ Walk from day 1, on 15th September 2011, and was a highly skilled and dedicated scyther. He is irreplaceable. His wife Sue assures us that he died doing what he loved best.

Co-operation

The Friends are most grateful to Clevedon Civic Society, not only for funding towards the partial rebuild of a Victorian wall at Wain’s Hill battery site, but also for the expertise and leadership of Civic Society member Nick Humphries in the practical work. Thanks go to other Civic Society volunteers and members of Clevedon Woodcutters for Wildlife who also contributed to the battery work.

Our sincere thanks go to Sam Phillips of North Somerset Council for her continuing support and for her quick response, along with the Buildings Officer, in re-securing the brick building on the battery site following vandal activity.

Publicity

Regular updates appeared on the Monthly Diary page under the section Poets’ Walk on the Clevedon Conservation Volunteers website.

The Friends of Poets’ Walk Map leaflet is available at various outlets in Clevedon and can be down loaded from the website. A mapped walk, which originally appeared in North Somerset Life (September/October 2017), can also be downloaded.

https://clevedonconservationvolunteers.org/poets-walk/

Future programme

The annual ragwort pull will take place in July. Wild radish on Church Hill will be grubbed as often as necessary during the summer to prevent seeding. Nettles, brambles and feral raspberry will be controlled, especially in the woodland glade behind the Salthouse flats.

The end of September will see the scything of the 2 north-west facing slopes on Church Hill. This year it is hoped that Green Mantle can take over the late summer (September/October) cut of the Wain’s Hill ramparts in October from the scything team since the strength of our team has become depleted.

A second session of wall rebuilding at the battery site will take place in July.

Angela Slotte – Volunteer coordinator on behalf of the Friends of Poets’ Walk, August 2018

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 1st Quarterly Report 2018   January – March

 The Volunteer Workforce

Sixteen individual volunteers contributed to Thursday afternoon working parties between the beginning of January and the end of March.  Attendance per session ranged between 8 (on a rainy day) and 15. The average was 12 per session, shared between the habitats team and the paths team.

Working parties took place on 10 Thursday afternoons. One session was rained off, another snowed off and a third cancelled due to high winds. The total number of volunteer working hours was 242.

Working Party tasks

1st quarter map 2018All tasks were based on the Poets’ Walk Management Plan.

The tidying of the formal paths, steps and seats was ongoing and included the cutting back of dense ivy from the rock face along the coast path to allow sunlight to the rock to encourage establishment of wild flower and grass species.

Work on Church Hill included woodland glade management behind the Salthouse Flats by topping hawthorn to encourage bushy growth and thinning out ash saplings, as well as clearing a few brambles and feral raspberries. Old elder trees at the view point above the zigzag path were pollarded above head height to prevent them from toppling over and to encourage bushy growth. More invasive wild radish was grubbed out.

On Wain’s Hill work included increasing sunlight to the lower grassy edge of the ramparts by removing low hanging sycamore branches and thinning self-set saplings at the woodland edge. Regrowth of sycamore from old stumps was cut back while brambles encroaching into grassland were rooted out.

In January, a session involving both groups was spent clearing brambles and fresh tree shoots in St Andrew’s churchyard, and a second session uncovered a group of old graves by crown-lifting a large holly tree.

Future programme

From 1st April our volunteers will again be recording butterfly sightings on a weekly basis and submitting results to a national database under the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (www.ukbms.org).

Funding has now been procured from Clevedon Civic Society to enable phase 1 of the Battery Wall Consolidation project to go ahead. Re-building and capping (with lime mortar) of the low boundary wall will take place from 9th to 11th May, under the guidance of a professional stone mason.

Grassland management will be a priority during the summer. Invasive wild radish on Church Hill will still need to be controlled by mowing, grubbing and pulling.

Work will continue to keep paths and seats tidy, views maintained and access points to Church Hill and Wain’s Hill kept clear. The route of the 1923 grassy path around Church Hill, as well as Hack’s Way, will be kept open by mechanical trimming.

June will see the start of the annual summer cut of the Wain’s Hill ramparts by scything, and July the annual ragwort pull.

Conclusion

Despite recurring bad weather a wide variety of tasks were successfully carried out and the winter work programme remained on schedule.

Having now followed the succession of vegetation over 6 years the need becomes ever clearer to maintain a balance between secondary woodland, grassland and scrub. Sycamore in particular needs to be kept in check so that dense thicket areas containing low trees and scrub species can be preserved for the benefit of wildlife, while scrub margins between woodland and species rich grassland are maintained.

Angela Slotte – Volunteer coordinator on behalf of the Friends of Poets’ Walk, April 2018

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 Friends of Poets’ Walk

 4th Quarterly Report 2017   October – December

  The Volunteer Workforce

Sixteen individual volunteers contributed to regular Thursday afternoon working parties between the beginning of October and the end of December. Two additional volunteers complemented the scything team on Wain’s Hill in October.

Attendance per Thursday session, which continues to comprise a paths group and a habitats group, ranged between 10 and 13. The average was 11 per session.

Working parties took place on 11 Thursday afternoons. In addition 43 hours were spent scything and 2 hours strimming on Monday mornings on Wain’s Hill ramparts. The Woodcutters for Wildlife did 16 hours of maintenance work in Salthouse Woods bringing the total number of volunteer working hours to 294.

Working Party tasks

4th quarter map 2017All tasks were based on the Poets’ Walk Management Plan.

The tidying of the formal paths, steps and seats was ongoing and included sweeping of slippery autumn leaves.

Work on Wain’s Hill concentrated on the annual autumn scything and raking of the rampart slope, now for the 6th time since clearing the scrub.

On Church Hill, nettles, feral raspberry and brambles were pulled or grubbed in the woodland glade behind Salthouse Flats. Grassland was scythed and nettles pulled at the view point above the zigzag steps. Volunteers also cut back bramble that was impeding tractor access to Church Hill (near St Andrew’s Church, on request of the contractor), and thinned sycamore saplings in the same area.

Co-operation

The volunteers gratefully acknowledge the valuable work done by Green mantle on the species-rich, west-facing grassy bank on Wain’s Hill, and by farmer Dave Smith in mowing and baling the grass on both hilltops. We are especially grateful to Sam Phillips of North Somerset Council for facilitating the patching up of the crumbling Battery walls on Wain’s Hill, using the appropriate lime mortar, to make them safe and prevent further decay. We have made contact with wall-building expert Tina Bath, who has agreed to visit the site to advise and help the volunteers with lime mortaring in the spring.

In October, the Woodcutters for Wildlife worked in Salthouse Woods, replacing 2 woodland steps, tidying the immediate area and clearing a fallen branch, and also raking the grassland above the woodland steps following the annual grass cut by the contractor.

In December the Friends’ paths team co-operated with the Marine Lake group, Marlens, by sweeping and tidying the formal paths above the lake.

Publicity

Regular updates appeared on the Monthly Diary page under the section Poets’ Walk on the Clevedon Conservation Volunteers website at:

https://clevedonconservationvolunteers.org/poets-walk/

Future programme

Work will continue to keep paths and seats tidy, to maintain or improve views, and to keep access points to Church Hill and Wain’s Hill clear. January and February will see follow-up scrub control and some further enhancement of thicket areas and woodland glades.

As soon as possible in the spring it is hoped to start some re-building/pointing work of the perimeter wall at the Battery, with the support of Mendip’s Tina Bath and Clevedon Civic Society.

Angela Slotte – Volunteer coordinator on behalf of the Friends of Poets’ Walk, January 2018

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