Please note that, due to the present Covid-19 situation, work parties have been cancelled until further notice.
Overall plan for October 2019 to March 2020
The range of tasks that are available for us to undertake through the winter and into early spring are shown in this document FOLK Work Party Programme Oct 2019-Mar 2020
Work planned for the next work parties in March 2020
During February we cut down quite a lot of gorse and hawthorn in a number of areas and left a number of piles of cuttings which we will need to clear by burning this month.
Should you wish to contact the FOLK work party coordinator about this, or any other matter, then please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Work done on Thursday 12th March 2020
We went back up to where we had created a fire break at the last work party and managed to burn all the piles of gorse cuttings that had been left. As you can see from the second photo below we now have a nice wide fire break.
Work done on Sunday 23rd February 2020
Again the weather wasn’t brilliant but we managed to get quite a bit of work done despite the passing showers. We went up to the top of Charlton Kings Common to finish off a job we started in November. That was to create a wide fire break in the thick bank of gorse just above the Cotswold Way.
Work done on Thursday 13th and Tuesday 18th February 2020
We spent two work parties clearing an area towards the East end of the site of hawthorn and gorse to try and open it up and make a better environment for the Duke of Burgundy butterflies. On one of them we were joined by Wayne and his chainsaw which speeded up the process. We now have a large pile of cuttings which we will need to come back to to burn.
Work done on Sunday 26th January 2020
The weather forecast for the late morning was not good so we worked close to our meeting point so that we could make a swift exit should the heavens opened. As it happens it only started drizzling about midday so we managed to clear the remainder of the gorse and some hawthorn in the North-West corner of Charlton Kings Common where we had previously worked in October. We were helped enormously with this work by being joined by 7 volunteers from Gloucester Vale Conservation Volunteers. Many thanks to them.
Work done on Thursday 9th and Tuesday 21st January 2020
We continued the task we started in November to clear an area of gorse from above the Gallops. We have now managed to clear a significant area which we hope not to have to revisit again as we have chemically treated the stumps.
Work done on Tuesday 17th & Sunday 22nd December 2019
At last some decent(ish) weather. On the first work party we cut down a lot of gorse and hawthorn above Daisybank Road between the pull-in and the turning circle. The mist was swirling around a little but at one stage it cleared to give us an interesting view – Cheltenham was covered by a bank of mist and all we could see was Cleeve Hill peaking out from this.
At the second work party we managed to burn all the cuttings from the previous one. A good job by all.
Work done on Thursday 12th December 2019
Another work party cancelled due to rain!
Work done on Friday 29th November 2019
We added an extra work party today, partly because we missed one earlier in the month due to bad weather, but mainly because we were joined by 9 volunteers who had been allowed to join us by their company SHS-Sales. We decided to continue some work we had started in September: clearing a fire break in the large, dense gorse area on the top level of the site alongside the Cotswold Way. With all that help we not only finished the area we had previously started but also made very good headway in clearing another fire break a little further along. Thanks very much to our extra volunteers. Come again sometime.
Work done on Sunday 24th November 2019
We continued where we left off at the last work party and managed to clear another section. We are steadily getting higher up the slope and leaving a sizable clear area behind us.
Work done on Tuesday 19th November 2019
The weather obliged today and we had a good turnout. The main job we did was cutting, treating and burning gorse just above the Gallops track at the lower level. This is an area we cleared maybe 5 years ago but didn’t treat so it just grew back more vigorously! Hopefully we did a better job this time but it will take a few work parties to finish it. As you will see below, the cattle enjoyed the fire.
Work done on Thursday 14th November 2019
The weather was awful today so the work party was cancelled.
Work done on Sunday 27th October 2019
Today was such a lovely sunny day after days of rain! We spent the time in a glade in the North-West corner of Charlton Kings Common alongside Daisy Bank Road where we removed hawthorn saplings, bramble and some gorse to avoid them stealthily taking over the area.
Work done on Tuesday 15th October 2019
We did some grass mowing on the top of Leckhampton Hill today, and also cut back the plant growth that was partially covering and obscuring the Cotswold stone wall opposite the ancient barrow that is nearby.
Work done on Thursday 10th October 2019
We got on with one of our usual Summer/Autumn tasks: mowing the barrow, ‘butterfly motorway’ and the sidings up on the top of Leckhampton Hill. Now these interesting features are more visible.
Barrow after grass cutting
Sidings before grass cutting
Sidings after grass cutting
Work done on Sunday 22nd September 2019
It was not the nicest of days weather wise so turnout wasn’t large! However, we managed to clear some gorse just above the end of Daisy Bank Road.
Work done on Thursday 12th and Tuesday 17th September 2019
We made good headway in creating a fire break in a dense gorse area on the top of Charlton Kings Common. In the process we cleared out the gorse that had been damaged by fire earlier in the year which was unsightly. Before and after photos are shown below.
Work done on Tuesday 20th and Sunday 25th August 2019
We continued with the task of pulling up Hemp Agrimony. As the seed heads are now beginning to form we plucked off the flower heads (before pulling up and dropping the plants), bagged them and removed them from the Hill. We also pulled up and removed some flowering Ragwort.
Work done on Thursday 8th August 2019
Today we were joined by 5 people from THB Group who are a local company who allow staff to do volunteering days. They helped us with our annual cut of the clearing above Bridge Car Park on Daisy Bank Road (what we call Area 16). By cutting this annually we prevent scrub growing back and hopefully encourage the growth and spread of interesting flowering plants.
Work done on Sunday 28th July 2019
We were joined today by 9 people from Gloucester Vale Conservation volunteers which was nice. We all went for a good wander along the lower levels of Charlton Kings Common and on to the Hopkins Fields pulling up and removing ragwort which can cause problems if eaten by the cattle. On our walk back to base we did a bit more Hemp Agrimony pulling as well. (Sorry, forgot to take any photos!)
Work done on Tuesday 16th July 2019
Back to one of our regular summer tasks: pulling Hemp Agrimony. This is a weed that can become very dense if we don’t try and manage it. We will probably never get rid of it but at least it now appears to be under control.
Work done on Thursday 11th July 2019
We managed to finish off our footpath clearance work, this time around Five Ways and the Gallops. Hopefully the horse riders will not have to duck as much!
I don’t know whether you can tell the difference from the before and after photos below but we cut down quite a few branches here.
Work done on Sunday 23rd June 2019
We continued our task of wandering around the footpaths and tracks, this time on the lower slopes of Charlton Kings Common, cutting back encroaching scrub and overhanging branches. We even found time to have a break and enjoy home-made cakes and home-grown strawberries!
We also replaced some capping stones that had been knocked off the top of a short sections of the main Cotswold stone wall at the top of the site.
Work done on Tuesday 18th June 2019
We finished off burning the pile of brash left at the back of Brownstone Quarry Car Park. We also walked along the front edge of the top of Charlton Kings Common above Daisybank Road and cut back the encroaching scrub along the various tracks in the area, some used by the cattle and others also by walkers.
Work done on Thursday 13th June 2019
A few days before our work party the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens had cut down a number of trees at the back of Brownstone Quarry Car Park and left a pile of brash. (The intention is that this area will be used to increase the area of the car park which overflows at busy time.) We went along and used some of this brash to construct a protective barrier around an area in Brownstone Quarry where adders are found. This will hopefully deter people and dogs from entering this area and disturbing the adders. There was more brash in the pile than we needed for this purpose so we started to burn it, despite the rain!
Work done on Sunday 26th May 2019
We had a good turnout today and managed to do a number of jobs. We burnt a couple of piles of brash left from previous work parties: one on Hartley Lane and another near the limekilns. We reprofiled some steps along the Woodland Walk which had become a bit silted up. Finally we walked a number of footpaths and tracks on the top of Leckhampton Hill and cut back encroaching scrub and branches.
Work done on Tuesday 21st May 2019
We again split up the work party. One group dug out some drainage channels on the Standard Gauge Incline up from Bridge Car Park to try and get some of the rainwater to run off the sides rather than all rushing to the bottom and creating a muddy pond.
Another group replaced some supporting boards on the side of one of the tracks to the East of the Limekiln Ruins where the path was subsiding.
The remainder wandered round the various paths and tracks, mainly above Daisy Bank Road, cutting back encroaching shrubbery and branches.
Work done on Thursday 9th May 2019
Today we split the work party up a bit. Some of us spent time repairing steps on one of the paths that goes up from Daisy Bank Road. The remainder worked in the area above Bridge Car Park and burnt the pile of ash sapling cuttings that we had left from a previous work party.
Work done on Sunday 28th April 2019
Another fire again today! We returned to Salterley Quarry and gathered together and burnt the ash saplings that we had cut down during an earlier work party.
Work done on Thursday 11th and Tuesday 16th April 2019
We thought we had finished our gorse cutting for the season but, because of the unsightly mess left by the malicious fire at the top of Charlton Kings Common, we decided to remove and get rid of the damaged gorse in this area.
damaged gorse before we started
damaged gorse removed
Work done on Tuesday 19th & Sunday 24th March 2019
This time we went up to the site of the old tramway sidings, used back in the quarrying days, and cleared away a lot of saplings that were taking over the place.
There were quite a few walkers about who stopped for a chat and were surprised to hear what the original function of this area was. Our aim is to keep this area cut back to try to improve awareness of the industrial archaeology of the site.
Work done Thursday 14th March 2019
We visited Salterley Quarry today and cut down and treated ash saplings that were re-growing around the edges of the quarry. We removed quite a few but there are still some standing which we will have to return to some time.
Work done on Sunday 24th February 2019
We had a massive work party today with 30 volunteers! That must be a record. The reason was that we were joined by local paragliders who fly from the Hill and who wanted some clearance work to be done in the areas they used. With so many people we managed to clear, treat and burn a lot of gorse and remove one hawthorn tree. This should now give the paragliders a much clearer area for them to enjoy their sport.
Work done on Tuesday 19th February 2019
Another good turnout today! We worked alongside the track that goes up from the Woodland Walk to the top of the Hill and removed a lot of ash saplings that were crowding in this area. We also removed some cotoneaster and other unwanted bits and pieces from the open grass bank just below the track. There were a lot of walkers and dogs passing us while we worked, some of them stopping for a pat and a stroke (the dogs that is!). We also had the Cheltenham Borough Council Executive Director, Senior Ranger and photographer join us which was nice.
Work done on Thursday 14th February 2019
It was definitely a change today! Not only were we not removing gorse but we also went to a site we have not visited for a long time. We went up to Deadman’s Quarry (which is just below the topograph) and cleared away various saplings that were beginning to get a bit too big and too extensive. We also removed and treated a large bank of cotoneaster. This has now opened up this area (which is used by quite a few people) a bit more although there is a bit more we could do at some time to open up the far views from this spot.
Work done on Sunday 27th January 2019
Today we had a really good bonfire and managed to clear all the remaining gorse cuttings on the top of Charlton Kings Common. Apologies to anyone passing by who was affected by the smoke.
Work done on Tuesday 15th January 2019
An even better turnout today so we managed to finish cutting the gorse in the same area as last time. Although we had two fires burning we still didn’t manage to burn all the cuttings. I wonder what we will be doing at the next work party!
Work done on Thursday 10th January 2019
We started the new year off with a good turnout, but an old job! We went back to cutting, treating and burning gorse on the top of Charlton Kings Common. Everybody was full of vigour after their Christmas break and managed to cut more than we could burn in the time so it’s probably back to finish of next week.
Work done on Sunday 23rd December 2018
Today we moved our base around to Salterley Quarry and spent the time removing and treating ash saplings along the edge of Hartley Lane.
Work done on Tuesday 18th December 2018
Similar to the beginning of November, the weather forecast wasn’t too promising today so we worked near to our meeting point and finished cutting and treating ash saplings. We also removed some dogwood which is flourishing in a patch in the same area. Fortunately the rain held off for most of the morning but by midday we were getting a bit cold and damp so we finished a little early.
Work done on Thursday 13th December 2018
Back onto cutting gorse again but in a slightly different place a bit further East. We removed, treated and burnt gorse in a thick patch that is blocking the view from the Cotswold Way.
Work done on Sunday 25th November 2018
A couple of jobs today. Firstly we removed the temporary paddock in Daisybank Field that the young calves had been kept in. Secondly we went along Daisybank Road and worked in and around a hawthorn copse to cut back some of the hawthorn growth to give better access to the cattle to get into and through this area. This is an area used by the cattle quite a bit and some of the tracks through were getting a bit overgrown.
Work done on Tuesday 20th November 2018
After a month off we went back up to the top of Charlton Kings Common and continued the rotational cutting of gorse. It was a very productive session with a good number of volunteers attending and the use of the new saw attachment on our brushcutter. We have now cleared and burnt the cutting from quite a large area. We will probably leave this area now and move elsewhere next time.
Work done on Thursday 8th November 2018
As the weather forecast wasn’t too good today we decided to stay close to our meeting point so we could make a run for it if needed! We went to the top of the clearing above Bridge Car Park and continued the task of cutting and treating the thicket of ash saplings. With the rain holding off we managed to make good inroads on this job and ended up with quite a large pile of cut saplings we will probably need to burn sometime.
Work done on Sunday 28th October 2018
We did some tidying up work today by going up to the lime kilns area and burning a piles of cut ash saplings and other debris we had cut back a month or two ago.
Work done on Tuesday 16th October 2018
Today we were up on the top of Leckhampton Hill raking up and removing grass that had been cut by a contractor. Unfortunately, access is not good enough to get a baler in there so we have to clear it by hand to prevent the cuttings suffocating the live grass below it.
Work done on Thursday 11th October 2018
We had quite a jamboree up on the Hill today with 30 volunteers from FOLK, Cheltenham Borough Council and Cotswold Voluntary Wardens. With so many people in attendance we were able to blitz what we call Area 16 (the open area above Bridge Car Park on Daisybank Road). We try and come here once a year to cut back the annual growth so as to keep it as an open area with long views over Cheltenham. As you can imagine, we achieved a lot. Thanks to everybody who came.
Work done on Thursday 27th September 2018
We should have had a work party on Sunday but the weather was bad so we slipped it to today when the weather was really nice. We had a really good bonfire and burnt a lot of the gorse we had cut down at the last work party.
Work done on Tuesday 18th September 2018
Today we started one of our winter tasks: cutting gorse. Gorse has become rather prolific, particularly on the Common and needs to be reduced in area. However, we don’t want to get rid of it all and so some areas will be rotationally cut every 5 to 10 years (rather than being cut and treated to kill it off). Today we started to rotationally cut an area at the top of the Windass track and above the Cotswold Way path. This will take a few work parties to clear and to burn the cuttings. Some photos taken at the start and end of this work party are shown below.
Work done on Thursday 13th September 2018
We did a bit of footpath maintenance today. The track that runs from the Woodland Walk, just along from the Limekilns, fairly steeply up to the top of the Hill had become rather overgrown so we got out the brushcutters and rakes to open it up again. (Sorry, forgot to take photos!)
Work done on Sunday 26th August 2018
It was a wet and miserable day so we did a bit of tidying up around Daisybank Car Park and then went home early!
Work done on Tuesday 21st August 2018
And another annual task…at the limekilns area where we gave the undergrowth a trim and cut back a few overhanging branches to open up the views. We also removed parts of a tree that had fallen onto the remains of the plant house.
Work done on Thursday 9th August 2018
Yet another annual task! This time mowing around the ancient barrow to expose it and also mowing what we call the ‘Butterfly Motorway’ which is nearby.
Work done on Sunday 22nd July 2018
Another of our annual tasks today: erecting a temporary paddock in Daisybank Field. This will be used to hold the new calves which have now been separated from their mothers.
Work done on Thursday 12th & Tuesday 17th July 2018
As a change from Hemp Agrimony pulling we did some Ragwort pulling! On the first day, some of us wandered along the full length of Charlton Kings Common at various levels pulling up and bagging the dispersed Ragwort plants. After this we joined the rest of the volunteers in Hopkins Fields where there is a lot of Ragwort. The second day concentrated on Hopkins Fields.
Because dried Ragwort plants can be poisonous to the cattle we have to remove the pulled plants from the site. As you can see from the photo below we pulled up quite a quantity, but there is still didn’t manage to clear it all!
Work done on Tuesday 19th & Sunday 24th June 2018
We continued with the Hemp Agrimony pulling job on these two days. It’s a bit tedious but we did manage to remove quite a lot of plants. As they have not yet started to flower or form seeds we could leave the pulled plants on the ground. If the cattle find these they may well eat them. We have found previously that the cattle tend to nibble only a few of the growing plants but are happy to eat much more after they have been pulled!
Work done on Thursday 14th June 2018
Today we started our regular summer job of pulling up Hemp Agrimony plants above the Gallops that can grow into dense patches that kill off the grass underneath if we don’t keep them under control.
In addition we did a bit of grass restoration work in the same area. We brush cut a couple of patches to remove the small hawthorn and bramble scrub and the old rank grass. Hopefully this will allow the smaller more interesting plants to regrow in the area. (See the before and after photos below)
Work done on Sunday 27th May 2018
As the weather was not promising today we stayed close to our base and spent the time, before we were rained off, cutting down overhanging and broken branches along the standard gauge incline path that runs from Bridge Car Park on Daisybank Road up to the limekiln ruins.
Work done on Thursday 10th and Tuesday 15th May 2018
On these two work parties we did some grass restoration work. We cut grass on the banks above the West end of Hartley Lane that had not been cut for a long time and had become a bit rank. We also removed gorse in this area which was beginning to spread. (We have enough of a gorse problem on the East side of the Site and don’t want it to get too much of a foothold in this area as well.) On our second visit we managed to burn the gorse cuttings and most of the grass cuttings.
Work done on Tuesday 17th & Sunday 22nd April 2018
We finished burning the various piles of gorse cuttings that we had generated in previous winter work parties. We also did a little bit of footpath maintenance.
Work done on Thursday 12th April 2018
Today we spent the time with our heads in the clouds, quite literally, but we still got a good deal of work done. We went back to an area on top of the Hill, where we had cut down gorse earlier, to get rid of the cuttings. We had a nice fire to keep us warm and it was lovely to be serenaded by a lark singing his heart out despite the low cloud.
Work done on Sunday 25th March 2018
We returned to the same area today but this time we attempted to remove bramble runners in an area that had previously had trees removed and is now bare earth. We would like t to be colonised by something more interesting than bramble! It was a bit of a tedious task but hopefully it has helped.
Work done on Thursday 8th & Tuesday 20th March 2018
We only went a short distance from our meeting point these two days, to the clearing above Bridge Car Park on Daisybank Road. Here we attacked the proliferation of ash saplings. We have been here before, and they have regrown since then, but this time we treated them to hopefully stop them regrowing again and us having to return again in the future.
Work done on Sunday 25th February 2018
We cut and treated a bit more gorse today but in a slightly different place, below the area worked on at the last two sessions. This area was getting rather overgrown with gorse, hawthorn and bramble and blocking the tracks the cattle use to get through to grazing areas. They now have clearer routes.
Work done on Tuesday 20th February 2018
We went back to the same site today and cut down and treated more gorse. As we are getting to the end of the scrub-bashing season, when we are required to stop cutting to prevent disturbance to nesting birds, we concentrated on removal and will come back another day to do the burning. When we don’t burn at the same time as cutting we are always pleasantly surprised to see how much we do in a single session as shown by the large piles of cuttings.
Work done on Thursday 8th February 2018
To continue our work on trying to push back the steady encroachment of gorse on Charlton Kings Common, today we worked on the top just below the Cotswold Way and removed and treated old, leggy gorse that was blocking off the views.
Work done on Sunday 28th January 2018
To have a break from the prickly stuff we revisited a site we worked on a couple of years ago. Then we opened up a clearing alongside the lower level woodland walk close to the West end of Hartley Lane by removing a thick stand of ash saplings. These have now started to grow back quite vigorously as we didn’t originally treat them with chemicals to kill them off. We therefore went back, cut down the regrowth and treated the stumps. Hopefully we won’t need to revisit this area again. (See before and after below.)
Work done on Tuesday 16th January 2018
Another session on gorse today, but somewhere different. We were on the top of the site towards the East end opening up a track through the block of gorse that is above the Cotswold Way. This track is used by the cattle and our butterfly surveyors and was becoming rather narrow in places. After last week’s trials we didn’t try to light a fire today so we will have to go back at some time and burn the cuttings.
Work done on Thursday 11th January 2018
We started the new year with a session on gorse. We continued removing and treating gorse from the same area as on 21st November. We managed to clear quite a bit but struggled to get a fire going because of the damp conditions so didn’t manage to burn it all. In the photo below all the lank grass in the foreground is where we have cleared gorse.
Work done on Sunday 31st December 2017
A good number of volunteers came out for some early New Year’s Eve celebrations! We went up to a small clearing (Area 16a) a bit above the Daisybank Road car parks and cut down and treated a number of ash saplings that were threatening to close in this area.
Work done on Tuesday 19th December 2017
We revisited a site we went to at the beginning of November and finished off removing a block of gorse – see the before and after photos below.
Work done on Thursday 14th December 2017
The heavy snow on the Hill at the weekend caused a bit of damage so we spent the work party wandering around the site cutting back branches that had fallen across fences, paths and roads.
Work done on Sunday 26th November 2017
A good turnout today despite the cold. With a little help from our 4-legged friend Chunkie we removed the temporary electric fence from Daisybank Field and then went on to cut and treat ash saplings in the clearing above Bridge Car Park.
Work done on Tuesday 21st November 2017
We had another session of cutting, treating and burning gorse today, but in a different location: along the Gallops. We also found time to celebrate a special occasion. It was Mike’s 70th birthday so we had a break for special cake and coffee.
Work done on Thursday 9th November 2017
We started our regular winter task today by cutting, treating and burning a patch of gorse above the Daisybank track as can be seen from the before and after photos below. As you can see there is still more to do here.
Work done on Sunday 22nd October 2017
We paid our annual visit to the limekilns today and trimmed back the year’s growth, cut down and treated sapling and removed some branches that were starting to obscure the entrance to the area. It all looks a lot more open and accessible now.
Work done on Thursday 12th & Tuesday 17th October 2017
We returned to the Brownstone Quarry area for 2 work parties with full complements of volunteers. We started by clearing a patch of Michaelmas Daisies, which were garden escapees, and then spent the rest of the time cutting back scrub that was encroaching on and killing off the grassland. We haven’t worked in this area for some years and scrub growth has advanced a lot. There is still more we could do here so we’ll be back sometime!
Work done on Sunday 24th September 2017
Only a small number of volunteers today but a lot was still achieved. The thick patch of Canadian Golden Rod, that is not a native and was killing off the grass underneath, was pulled up at the start of the path next to Brownstone Quarry car park. Work was also done to clear the edges of the footpath (known as Judy’s Ride).
Work done on Tuesday 19th September 2017
Today we did one of our regular annual tasks: trimming the open area above Bridge Car Park which is on Daisybank Road. Using our mower and brushcutter we gave this area a good haircut to remove the annual growth which we raked up and dumped in a handy nearby hidden hollow. This annual clearance helps to maintain a good variety of plants and butterflies and keeps the area open and accessible for visitors.
Work done on Thursday 14th September 2017
Today we gave the historic barrow on top of Leckhampton Hill its annual haircut! Over the spring and summer the grass grows sufficiently to cover and hide the barrow hence the need each year for us to visit it each year to give it a trim and re-expose it. While we were there we popped next door and did a bit of trimming on what we call the ‘Butterfly Motorway’.
Sorry there is no photo for this session. I got so engrossed in driving the mower around that I forgot to take one!
Work done on 10th, 15th & 27th August 2017
On a dry day at the beginning of the month a contractor came in and did the annual grass cut up on top of Leckhampton Hill. Unfortunately there is not enough room to get a baler up there so it’s down to the volunteers to rake up the grass cuttings. That’s what we did…and it took us three work parties! If we don’t rake up the grass cuttings they would smother and kill off the plants below which would rather defeat the object of doing the cutting in the first place.
Work done on Sunday 23rd July 2017
Today we did another of our annual jobs: erecting a temporary paddock on Daisybank Field which will be used for the Dexter calves. People might notice that this seems to encroach on the footpath down the slope but we did this on purpose to try to reduce the erosion caused by footfall and to give the bare ground a chance to recover.
Work done on 8th, 20th & 25th June, 13th & 18th July 2017
We spent 5 work parties on our regular summer task of pulling up Hemp Agrimony. This plant can form large dense patches that would shade out other more important grassland species and hence we need to keep it under control. Over the years we have managed to get rid of the dense patches but there still remains quite a lot of more dispersed plants which we want to remove and reduce before flowers and seeds are formed. We also spent time removing Ragwort from various areas on Charlton Kings Common and in the new grazing fields, Hopkins Fields, to the East of the site.
Work done on Sunday 28th May 2017
We finally finished burning all the cuttings that we had piled up from our winter work. The last piles were of ash along the Woodland Walk that runs below the Devil’s Chimney. It was all nice and dry and burnt well as can be seen from the photos below but at least it’s all looking a lot tidier now.
Work done on Tuesday 16th May 2017
Today we had a break from burning and instead did some brushcutting of the grassy banks alongside the West end of Hartley Lane. The grass in this area has not been cut for a long time and a lot of dead thatch has been building up which is not good for the other plants and invertebrates we want to encourage. We also pulled up and cleared a thick patch of Rosebay Willowherb. All of the cut grass and pulled plants were raked up and removed from the site. The end product is shown in the photo below. Sorry, I forgot to take a before photo!
Work done on Thursday 11th May 2017
We may have finished burning the cut gorse but there a few piles of ash cuttings on the Leckhampton Hill side of the site that we created in earlier work parties. Today we started attacking those and managed to burn a large pile that was in the small clearing above and slightly to the East of Bridge Car Park.
Work done on Sunday 23rd April 2017
At last, we finished burning the cut gorse. The last remaining embers and today’s team can be seen in the photo below.
We also re-erected the exclosure on the side of Charlton Kings Common to repeat the trial we did last year to exclude the cattle from an area for a period to see what impact they are having on the number of flowers seen.
Work done on Tuesday 18th April 2017
We split the work party today. One group went back up the Hill to continue the burning of the cut gorse. The other group went to the East end of the Gallops, where it meets Hartley Lane, to cut back some of the overhanging branches. This was to enable a delivery of stone to be made to support the rebuilding of the dry stone wall below Cowslip Meadow and alongside Hopkins Field.
Work done on Thursday 13th March 2017
We went back to a site on top of the Hill that we had visited in February to tidy up by burning the pile of cut gorse we had left behind. We had quite a bit of chopping up to do but we managed to move all of the gorse down to the burn site.
We had to be a bit careful in burning the gorse as it had dried out a lot since we had cut it and was very flammable. We had to feed the fire slowly to avoid setting the nearby grass on fire! As a result we didn’t manage to burn it all so will have to return again to finish it off.
Work done on Sunday 26th March 2017
Today we did some experimental work. We have noticed that there is quite a lot of ivy working its way upwards from the Woodland Walk that runs below the Devil’s Chimney and potentially encroaching onto the open grassland which we want to preserve. We therefore did a trial where we treated 2 small strips with chemicals, hand-pulled ivy in 2 adjacent strips and left 2 strips between these alone. We will monitor these over the next month or so to see what effect this has had.
Work done on Thursday 9th & Tuesday 21st March 2017
In these 2 work parties we focused on opening up 2 clearings alongside the Woodland Walk which runs below the Devil’s Chimney by cutting down and treating ash saplings which were taking over the areas. There is open grassland above these areas which we hope will now be able to spread into these clearings now they are no longer shaded by the saplings. Some photos of the before, during and after stages are shown below but, as can be seen, we do need to go back soon to burn the cuttings.
Work done in February 2017
In our 3 work parties this month we have concentrated on cutting down and treating gorse on the top of Charlton Kings Common alongside the main track that runs on the edge of the escarpment. Most of this was rather old and leggy, of limited ecological value and some of it was obstructing the views. So that we could cut down as much as possible, before we have to stop removing scrub to prevent the disturbance of nesting birds, we didn’t burn all the cuttings but have left some big piles which we will return to at a later date to burn.
As a small respite from cutting gorse, a couple of volunteers spent time repairing some steps during the last work party of the month. These were by the Cotswold stone wall at the start of the footpath to Hartley Farm. A number of the boards forming the steps were broken and the surface of most of the steps had been eroded. Hopefully these steps are now more serviceable – see photo below.
Work done on Sunday 22nd January 2017
More of the same – removing gorse at the top of Windass track. We have now finished that area and it is much clearer – see before and after photos below. Although it was a bit chilly up the Hill today we could keep ourselves warm by the fire!
Work done on Tuesday 17th January 2017
We went back up to the top of the Windass track and did some more gorse removal, treatment and burning. We have now cleared quite an area and re-exposed the grass that was being smothered by it. Some before and after photos below show the results of our efforts.
Work done on Thursday 12th January 2017
Despite the poor weather forecast we had a good turnout for our first work party of the year. Because we were expecting rain we stayed close to our ‘base’ and cut down and treated ash saplings growing in a small clearing. Some of the cuttings were taken away to be used by one of the local schools and the rest were left stacked up to be burnt another day. Eventually the rain did appear. We persevered for a while but in the end we gave up a little earlier than normal as it was becoming uncomfortable. Still, we got some useful work done. See the before and after photos below.
Work done on Tuesday 20th December 2016
We went back up to the top of Windass track and continued the gorse removal, treatment and burning we started on 15th November. See the before and after photos below. We were kept nice and warm by the fire and were treated to mince pies produced by one of our lady volunteers. Much appreciated! Merry christmas and happy new year to all our volunteers. Where would we be without you?
Work done on Thursday 8th December 2016
We went back to the area we worked on on 13th October to continue the removal of ash saplings and treating their stumps to prevent regrowth. We also burnt all the cuttings we produced today as well as the significant pile we had left from our previous visit.
Work done on Sunday 27th November 2016
Our main job today was to remove the electric fence forming the temporary paddock in Daisybank Field. After all the rain this week the area was rather wet and slippery and so, instead of having a tractor to help us to take away all the posts we needed something more sure-footed. Enter our four-legged volunteer who did a really good job!
Work done on Tuesday 15th November 2016
We started our winter campaign on gorse today by cutting, burning and treating an area just off to the West of the top of the Windass footpath (the one that runs up from ‘5-ways’ to the top of Charlton Kings Common). Our aim is to steadily clear as much of the gorse as we can ‘below’ the footpath that runs along the top edge so as to reduce the spread of gorse and keep the views open. Photos of before, during and after our work are shown below.
Work done on Thursday 10th November 2016
Today we went up to the small clearing in the woodland that is accessed via a track leading up from Bridge Car Park. Here we extended the clearing by cutting down a fairly prolific area of ash saplings and treated the stumps with herbicide to hopefully stop them regrowing.
Work done on Sunday 23rd October 2016
We had a good turnout today, which was nice, so we split into two groups. One cleared back the footpath which goes up from Daisybank Road by the side of the new houses that are being built. This had got very overgrown but is now easily passable. The second group went up to the limekilns and cut down some saplings, mainly ash, that were growing on and around the limekilns.
Work done on Tuesday 18th October 2016
We went back to the area above Bridge Car Park on Daisybank Road where we started to cut back the annual growth on 8th September, before the machines failed! The machines were back in action after receiving some TLC and we managed to clear quite an area. There is still a bit more we could do so we may be back here again but it’s looking good as shown by the before and after photos below.
Work done on Thursday 13th October 2016
Today we spent our time cutting down ash saplings alongside the footpath that runs from the steps at the South end of the Woodland Walk up to the top of Leckhampton Hill. These were beginning to encroach on the path and the adjacent grassland. We also did a bit of clearance work on the path onto the Hill that starts at the West end of Hartley Lane.
Work done on Tuesday 20th & Sunday 25th September 2016
We spent these work parties raking up grass that had been cut by a contractor on the top of the West side of Leckhampton Hill. Unfortunately the access to this area is too tight for a baler to be used hence the need for human power. If the cut grass was to be left in-situ it would suffocate the living grass and plants beneath it which would defeat the object of cutting – to promote new growth and healthy grassland.
Work done on Thursday 8th September 2016
On this work party we revisited an area we try to get to annually to cut down and trim the annual growth of grass, scrub and saplings. This is the open area just above the Bridge car park on Daisybank Road, or Area 16 as we tend to call it. We started attacking this area with our sturdy all-terrain mower and two brushcutters but after a while they started to fade and fail so we didn’t get as much done as we would have liked. Time we serviced our machines!
Work done on Sunday 28th August 2016
Today we removed the wires from the electric fence around a small area on the slope to the East of the site. This was the ‘exclosure’ we had erected a few months ago to keep the cattle off the area for a period so that we could see what impact restricting cattle grazing would have on the numbers of flowers and invertebrates present. There are indications that the numbers of flowers inside the exclosure were more than outside it but the plan it to run the same exercise again next year so that we can get a fuller picture over a longer time period.
In addition, we pulled up ragwort in various places on the East of the site and removed the plant material off the site.
Work done on Tuesday 16th August 2016
We did a couple of jobs today. Firstly we helped the grazier to erect a temporary paddock in Daisybank field which will be used to hold the Dexter calves when they are separated from their mothers. Secondly we helped to clear the scrub and plant growth on and around the bike jumps, which are also in Daisybank field, as they had become rather overgrown thus preventing their use.
Work done on Thursday 11th August 2016
Today we got onto one of our regular summer jobs on Charlton Kings Common: pulling ragwort and hemp agrimony, both of which have started flowering. We had to pull and remove from the Common the complete ragwort plants to stop them from spreading seeds and because they are poisonous to cattle (and humans!) if eaten. We pull hemp agrimony as it is an invasive plant which can form thick clumps which prevent anything else from growing, e.g. the grass and its wild flowers we are trying to promote. For this plant we just remove the flower heads from the Common, to stop seeding, and pull the remainder of the plant and drop it on the ground where the cattle will quite often eat it which is quite safe as it is not poisonous.
We managed to pull up a large quantity of these plants but there is still more on the Common so we will probably need to make a return visit to this job.
Work done on Sunday 24th July 2016
We went back to the area we had mainly cleared of ash saplings in June and removed the remaining few saplings and burnt all the cut wood that had been left there.
Work done on Thursday 15th & Tuesday 19th July 2016
On Thursday we did our annual grass cutting on and around the ancient Barrow on the top of Leckhampton Hill. Throughout the year this Barrow (in the form of a round Barrow within a square enclosure) slowly disappears from view as the grass grows such that it is hardly noticeable as you walk past it. But, as can be seen from the before and after photos below, once the grass is cut it becomes quite visible.
Starting on Thursday and finishing on Tuesday we also did some brush-cutting and mowing on an adjacent site (what we call the ‘Butterfly Motorway’). This area was cleared of scrub and trees last year by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens but regrowth was beginning to build up so we gave it a trim as can be seen from the photo below.
Work done on Sunday 26th June 2016
We decided to revisit an area that had been cleared of trees/saplings 18 months ago above the woodland walk that runs under the Devil’s Chimney. Since the trees that were shading this area have been removed there has been a lot of low level growth. Some of it is desirable, e.g. grass species and wild strawberry but some isn’t, e.g. sycamore and ash seedlings. We spent this work party pulling up these seedlings which, at present, come out easily, but it is a slow process and there is still more to do another time.
Work done on Thursday 9th & Tuesday 21st June 2016
We did some more ash sapling removal and burning in these two work parties but this time we worked in an area just off Hartley Lane and below the escarpment. It was an area containing a thicket of ash saplings with a good area of grass above it in the sunshine but a lot of ivy below it in the shady area. Our work certainly introduced a lot more light into the area (see the dramatic before and after photos below) so hopefully the grass will start to repopulate this area and push back the ivy.
Work done on Sunday 22nd May 2016
Only a small number of volunteers turned up today but a useful job was still able to be completed. Salterley Quarry was tidied up and the encroaching scrub and saplings along one of the paths up to the top of the Hill were cut back. This will help with the public event being held on the Hill on 18th June 2016 – see the Programme for details.
Work done on Thursday 12th & Tuesday 17th May 2016
We spent two work parties removing ash saplings from an area on top of Leckhampton Hill which the Cotswold Way runs through (it’s close to but to the West of the gate into Charlton Kings Common at the start of the rebuilt Cotswold stone wall). We attempted to burn the cuttings but the fires were very reluctant to get going, probably due to the rising sap, and so we have a few piles of cuttings we will need to go back and burn at some time when they have dried out a bit.
Work done on Sunday 24th April 2016
We split the work party today. The majority went along to the open area above Bridge Car Park (on Daisybank Road) and cut down and burnt ash saplings. Two others went along to the woodland walk that runs below the Devil’s Chimney to install some steps at the point where it starts to rise and go up to the top of the hill. This point has always been difficult to descend on because of the awkward camber and slippyness when damp. Five steps were installed on the Sunday and they then went back on the following Friday to add the final two steps (see photos below). This should make it much better.
Work done on Tuesday 19th April 2016
It was fire and brimstone today! We cut down a lot of ash saplings in the triangle area above the top of Sandy Lane and lit a fire to burn them. During the work party we were joined by a brimstone butterfly.
Again it was a strong turnout with a total of 13 volunteers including 1 new FOLK member volunteering and 3 staff from the Yorkshire Building Society, all of whom we were happy to see.
Work done on Thursday 14th April 2016
Today we had a strong turnout of 14 volunteers so we got a lot of jobs done. Firstly we assisted with the completion of the cattle ‘exclosure’ above the Gallops by running the electric fence wiring around the fence line and fitting the poly-posts. This exclosure, now protected by the electric fence, is intended to exclude the cattle from an area during the wild plant flowering period to check whether or not the cattle grazing is affecting the number of flowers seen.
Secondly we finished burning the gorse that had been cut earlier in the year in this area which has resulted in a substantial area now being gorse free. Thirdly, we removed ash saplings from a nearby area.
Work done on Thursday 10th, Tuesday 15th & Sunday 20th March 2016
We spent these work parties collecting up and burning the gorse we had cut in February above the end of Daisybank Road. We had to do this burning slowly and carefully as the cut gorse was very dry and produced some spectacularly large flames when put on the fire. With the grass being very dry as well we didn’t want to set the whole area on fire!
You can see the effect of the gorse cutting and burning work in the before and after pictures below. This is just a small part of the areas we have been working on but you can clearly see that we have recovered quite an area of grassland.
Work done on Sunday 28th February 2016
This was our last opportunity to do scrub bashing before we have to stop for a while to ensure we don’t disturb nesting birds. We therefore took the opportunity to have a last go at gorse removal in the area above the Gallops which we started in November. It’s looking a lot clearer now.
Work done on Thursday 11th and Tuesday 16th February 2016
We were back onto gorse removal again! This time we were working above Daisybank Road, just past the last house. The main aim being to push back the western spread of gorse along the slope – if we don’t stop it, it will spread inexorably. We also cut a fire break through a large block of gorse in the same area. We concentrated on cutting the gorse and plan to come back in March to clear up and burn the cuttings.
Work done on Sunday 24th January 2016
We dismantled the temporary paddock in Daisybank Field today. We usually have the assistance of a tractor and trailer to take the removed posts off the hill but it was too wet and muddy for this. But, galloping (well walking!) to the rescue came ‘Chunky’ the horse who was able to manage the conditions and help us complete the job.
Work done on Tuesday 19th January 2016
We continued with the clearance and burning of the old gorse at the Eastern end of the site. This area now has much less gorse and more open grassland for the cattle to graze and the native plants and flowers to hopefully thrive.
Work done on Thursday 14th January 2016
We had a very good turnout today and so we split the work party into two. A small group went to Hartley Lane to burn the piles of cuttings left from the last work party and the contractor’s work there. The remainder of us went to the Eastern extremes of the site to cut and burn some rather old and straggly gorse which has little ecological value in an area we haven’t worked on for some years.
Work done on Sunday 27th December 2015
Despite the weather being a little damp a few people turned up for this post-Xmas/pre-New Year work party. We spent the time clearing the last area of ash saplings on the edge of Hartley Lane near the entrance to Salterley Quarry car park. This patch remained following work by Cheltenham Borough Council contractors to clear a long length of the roadside verge and banking. Because it was wet we were unable to burn the cuttings so we will have to come back sometime to do this.
Work done on Tuesday 15th December 2015
We continued clearing and burning the gorse we started on in our Thursday November work party. As usual, the cattle came to investigate what we were doing and to see if we had generated any tasty treats. But we hadn’t so they eventually wandered off.
Work done on Thursday 10th December 2015
Because the weather forecast was predicting a very wet morning this work party was cancelled. But guess what, it didn’t rain!!
Work done on Sunday 22nd November 2015
We did a couple of tidying up jobs today. Firstly, we opened up a footpath that had become a bit overgrown. This path is towards the Eastern end of the site and starts at the Gallops (the main track at the lower level) and runs down to Hopkins field. The entrance to Hopkins field was particularly overgrown as can be seen in the photo below. Secondly, we spent time pulling up ash saplings in the hazel coppice area just above this path. Some hazel trees were coppiced a few years ago in the area where you can see us working in the second photo below. (Some more hazel trees have been coppiced recently in the area above where we are working.) As usual, if you clear an area other things will try to establish in the resulting space, this time ash saplings, but we want to retain the area as a hazel coppice and not an ash woodland hence the need to remove the ash saplings.
Work done on Tuesday 17th November 2015
We did some tidying up around the edges of Salterley Quarry car park – litter picking, cutting down and burning saplings, mainly ash, and pulling up Golden Rod. We were joined again by Wayne who used his chainsaw to cut down some trees which seemed in danger of falling down. We burnt the resulting brash.
Work done on Thursday 12th November 2015
We spent time cutting and burning gorse on the eastern side of our site above the main track we call the gallops. Wayne, the Cheltenham Borough Council Senior Ranger joined us and used his chainsaw to fell 2 ash trees which were the nuisance source of ash seeds and saplings in the area. We helped to clear away these trees.
Work done on Sunday 25th October 2015
We removed ash saplings from a small copse above Bridge Car Park on Daisybank Road. This copse is used by butterflies as a nice sunny spot to rest but the saplings were starting to shade and fill in this area which would have made it much less attractive to the butterflies.
Work done on Tuesday 17th October 2015
We cut down and burnt an area of gorse on the top ridge, adjacent to the top of the Windass path and alongside the area where a contractor has been removing trees. The reason for this combined work was to re-open the views from the ridge and to reduce the extent of gorse encroachment westwards. Before and after photos of the gorse areas are shown below.
Work done on Thursday 8th October 2015
We were pleased to welcome 5 members of Cheltenham Borough Council staff who joined our regular work party. We spend this working in Area 16 which is a clearing near the Daisybank Road car parks which has had trees and scrub removed over the last few years to open it up. To stop this from becoming overgrown we visit it at least once a year to mow and trim back any growth. This year we gave a light rotavating to a patch with poor growth and sowed seeds that had been collected earlier from the ‘Cowslip Meadow’ at the Eastern end of Charlton Kings Common.
Work done on Sunday 27th September 2015
Although there weren’t many volunteers today we managed to do quite a bit of work. We finished off the raking up of the grass cuttings on the top of the Hill. We also responded to a plea for help from a walker by cutting back the nettles that were partially obstructing the path that runs over the top of Salterley Quarry. We also spent a bit of time pulling up a weed called Golden Rod which has grown rather densely in a patch within Salterley Quarry, but there is more of it to do…!
Work done on Tuesdays 15th & 22nd September 2015
Cheltenham Borough Council employed a contractor to cut some of the grass on top of the Hill on the western side. We spent the first work party raking up the grass and gorse cuttings and removing as much as we could off the Hill. Some piles of cuttings were left on the Hill so we came back for a special short session the following Tuesday to clear them. There is more raking up to do. To be continued…!
Work done on Thursday 10th September 2015
The long grass that was obscuring the ancient barrow on the top of the Hill was cut and the barrow is now a lot more visible (see below).
We also did some work, including using the brushcutters, to clear away vegetation on the East side of the ramparts near and that overhanging a section of dry stone walling, both in the nearby area.
Work done on Thursday/Friday 27/28th August 2015
We had a couple of special sessions working on footpath steps. We created some steps at the end of Daisybank Road car park where a slightly hazardous (steep and slippy) path had been formed by people taking a short-cut into the car park (see photo). We also cut back some scrub here to improve visibility onto and from the road. Hopefully this will now be a bit safer but people will still need to take care when stepping out onto the road.
We also repaired some steps leading up from the Cirencester Road that can be used to access the Charlton Kings Common side of the hill.
Work done on Sunday 23rd August 2015
We did some footpath maintenance on the paths leading up the hill from the limekilns area and on top of the Hill on the path that drops down from the topograph and winds around the edge of the Hill. This involved cutting back scrub and branches that were encroaching from the sides and overhanging the paths. Typically for the present weather, the heavens opened when we were at the furthest point from the car park!! We decided to give up then.
Work done on Tuesday 18th August 2015
We had our last session of the year removing Hemp Agrimony. We worked in the areas above the Gallops we had been working on previously and on a small area just above and to the East of Shackleton that had recently been spotted. With the Hemp Agrimony now beginning to flower, and potentially set seed, we focused on removing those plants with flower heads and totally removing them from the Hill. We also deployed one of our brushcutters to speed up the cutting.
Work done on Thursday 13th August 2015
As the weather forecast was for rain for most of the morning we decided to forgo the pleasure of cutting Hemp Agrimony and work closer to home. Instead we went back to the area above the ‘under cliff path’ where ash trees had been cleared last winter and did the final clearance and burning of brash and tidying up of the log piles. In the end it didn’t rain but at least we finished the work in this area!
Work done on Thursday 9th, Tuesday 21st & Sunday 26th July 2015
We spent the three sessions pulling up Hemp Agrimony (an invasive weed). Following our work doing this in previous years it is not now as extensive or as dense. We have now cleared a good proportion of this year’s regrowth but there is still a bit more to do.
Work done on Sunday 28th June 2015
Despite the rain we managed to complete a couple of important jobs. Firstly we helped to erect a temporary paddock in Daisybank field which will be used to hold the calves from the Hill. Secondly we cleared Ragwort from one of the Hopkins fields which needed to be done prior to cutting for hay.
Work done on Thursday 11th June & Tuesday 16th June 2015
On Thursday we started clearing away scrub from off the top and areas around the limekiln ruins so as to make the ruins clearer to see by visitors and to complement the work done by Cheltenham Borough Council’s contractors to stabilise the structures. We still have a little more clearance to do. The photos below show the start of the work and the position as of Thursday.
We then went on to Area 16 (above Bridge Car Park) and brushcut and removed the tall weed growth in the area that was cleared last year. This work was in preparation for re-seeding the area later in the year. The cleared area is shown below.
Work done on Thursday 14th May, Tuesday 19th May & Sunday 24th May 2015
On Thursday we cut up and burnt the scrub cuttings that we had piled up alongside Daisy Bank Road as a result of the isolated scrub clearance we carried out on the last three work parties. On Tuesday and Sunday we cut up and burnt the ash cuttings at the bottom of Area 16 above and to the East of Bridge Car Park.
Work done on Thursday 9th April, Tuesday 21st April & Sunday 26th April 2015
Following receipt of a specific dispensation from Natural England, we removed a number of isolated and small scrub bushes from a number of areas above (to the South of) Daisy Bank Road and either side of the turning circle. These included hawthorn, gorse and ash saplings. Some of this was re-growth following more extensive clearance we had done in previous years. It was clear that the cattle were not fully grazing these patches – they don’t like prickly shrubs up their noses!
(Normally, Natural England would require us to stop any significant scrub clearance from 1st March to avoid disturbing nesting birds. However, Natural England gave us dispensation to continue minor clearance of small and isolated scrub until the end of April provided we checked there was no nesting activity nearby. This we did, and there wasn’t.)