Down to the stream…. The woodland part two

So…. We decided to clamber (ok for me slide down on my arse) down to the stream which is our boundary with the neighbours across the valley.





Down and down we went….. Things got more mossy, damper, warmer, more ferns appeared on the ground….





Then the woodland opened up for the stream….





Our beautiful stream!!!! Clumps of snowdrops…. Pebbles and rocks…. And just beautiful, if a bit boggy round the edges!!!

The woodland part one!

James and I decided that the other weekend was a good time to start surveying the woodland.  So we togged up and off we went with paper, books and camera in hand!!! 





We went into the woodland from the furthest corner of big field….

And we worked our way down through the woodland a way noting hazel, and oak trees and an occasional ash.  We need to sort out our boundary line in the woodland as the old banked hedged section has fallen into disrepair and there is evidence that sheep have been going back and forth between us and our neighbour.  

We have some strangely knarled trees…





The second one looks like there is an old face in the nook!

And we have a lot of holes in the bank!!





Bunnies?

We have a glade area almost here which might service brilliantly as a forest school area for the the fire circle etc!!





There were some lovely fungi and some celandines and other ground flora starting to poke through too.





We mapped out this section of woodland carefully and then decided to slither and slide our way down to the stream which is our bottom boundary.

Forest school

I have been really lucky recently and have been allowed to attend a forest schools leader training course!!! So much fun and it’s going to be amazing for my class to access and beyond in school!!! I am going to set up a forest schools area on the farm, as we have an established area at school, so my establishment module with its management plans etc is mainly going to be set at the farm!! But anyway the course…..

We had theory…..

We had games…..

But then we had lit fires…..



Lit Kelly kettles….



Shelter tarps rigged into shelters which withstood the wind and the rain and the hail!!!



We learnt knot tying… Square lashing, frapping, clove hitches, two round turns and half hitches etc…..



We made pictures about the structure of the woodland…..



And started to name and label bits of trees and woodland flora we found!!!!



As I said so much fun… But it’s going to be a LOT of work over the next few months….. But I am still REALLY excited and can’t wait to start using our school forest schools area and also weirdly excited to be looking at my own woodland and developing management plans and the site!!!! Even though it seems to mean mapping the whole nine acres!!!! I may be in the woods a while for that one!! I hope the ordinance survey shows up how steep some of it is in large enough forms too…. Abseiling forest school anyone?!?  

Starting to look like we are winning

Over the weekend we were back at the farm and I went hell for leather with the hedge cutters (although I am paying for it now with a poorly bad hand and wrist) The orchard field is basically now cleared other than some brambles which Mum is coming to help pick clean next weekend!! I shall probably follow her with the hedge cutters to complete the hack down once all the juicy goodness is bagged and tagged!!!

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We are starting to get some tantalising peeks into this section of woodland which we have not seen yet and we have found fencing!!! Yes fencing along the edge of the woods before they expanded over the fence!! James spent most of the weekend taking down the shambolic fencing at the top by the slurry pit bank and we have now cleared the back of the bank which means of course we have found more dumped metal work in the form of a gate and something else!! We shall see what that is when we pull it out!!

Our lovely farmer who rents our fields popped by to give us some advice on the slurry pit mess and see if he could help!! We now definitely need a digger to come to the farm to dig a channel through the bank to allow the pit to drain…. Spreading the muck on the fields is not advisable due to the amount of seeds and what not contained within!! So draining and spraying and digging out the weeds is going to be the name of the game!! But we have plenty of work for a digger to do with levelling the rest of the pit and excavating the rocks (basically lobbing them over the wall of the pit to create a complete bank all the way around!) muck heaps to be moved and everything!!

The Woodland

The best place currently to get into the woodland is the top corner of Big Field.  As we went into the woodland the floor was a carpet of Wood Anemones and Celandine.

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It was beautiful.  We also found a few RedCampion flowers.

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To the left on entering the woodland the fencing/boundary needs to be sorted as it looks like our neighbours’ stock is travelling into our woodlands and potentially eating our bluebells.

Dad and James ventured the furthest down into the woodland.

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We found clearly stepped areas which would have been previously used by the coppice workers to access the lower areas of the woodland to work on the trees and coppice stools.  The stepped areas are visible across the whole woodland, with areas where they need to be reintated and shored up along the way!  There are a lot of hazel coppice stools along the topmost fringes of the woodland.

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And lots of Old Oak trees through the woodland.  We came across one that had ferns growing along its branches right the way to the top!

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There is a lot of moss covering the trees in the woodland and Mum said that we would never have to worry about buying hanging basket liners again.  Not sure if that is ever something I would worry about.  We also noted that we have quite a bit of overstood coppice and some dead branches that would need to be sorted in the most part to support the woodland’s regeneration.

We all eventually came back up to the top path and meandered along it.  The woodland has a lot of hazel, oak and sycamore.  in the middle section of the woodland under Big Field there are two felled oaks, probably as a result of the winter storms this year.  It looks like the one Oak’s heartwood has rotted and it snapped off taking the lower oak out with it!  I shall need to get those out and planked or logged up and into the barn!

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James looks like the cat that has got the cream in his photo!!  Look at all the lovely slate the oak’s roots have pulled out!  I wonder how hard it will be to extract a few bits!!!  It would be very useful for paths, stone walling etc, but some big chunks won’t bit easy to get out at all!

Walking further along the top path we came across a badger sett!

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James went down onto the next level of the woodland step and found another large entrance hole too!  We saw more early evidence of bluebells too, but also some more evidence of our neighbours wooly friends hopping into the woodland and eating them!  Venturing further along we found an old oven and some bags of rubbish dumped.  These will need clearing in the fullness of time, probably when we have a skip on site.  We found the remnants of a blackbird egg.

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We then left the woodland… not through the bottom corner of Big field as the briars have taken over, but through what seemed to be the badger latrine under a load of blackthorn!