Diary - March 2008
Hats off to the unpaid and hardworking
wardens of our countryside
Volunteers never get the recognition they deserve
but then they’re not in it for the glory. I hope therefore
that the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens won’t mind me congratulating
them on their 40th anniversary.
The organisation exists to conserve and enhance
the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) alongside
the Cotswolds Conservation Board. Wardens carry out valuable
conservation projects in the AONB and help to promote the area
by encouraging the public to enjoy it. Back in 1968 Major Ray
Clarke was employed by Gloucestershire County Council to help
found the wardens group and by 1970 there were more than 200
members – there are now 340.
The current head warden, Colin Boulton, said: “It
was no surprise that the number of wardens swelled so quickly.
It is testament to Major Ray Clarke’s hard work but also
to the dedication of those who have been wardens over the years
and those who now make up the service. It also illustrates the
great sense of achievement and fulfillment there is to be had
from working voluntarily to care for an area that is well loved
by so many.”
The wardens will be celebrating with a week
of activity in the early summer, including parish walks in the
north Cotswolds, family focused walks across the area, a public
conservation work party in the south and a special event to mark
the anniversary at the Royal Agricultural College.
A series of fifteen short walks that are suitable
for those using wheelchairs, power scooters and pushchairs has
also been created.
Wardens complete thousands of hours of conservation
work every year and in 2006-7 broke their own record by collectively
working over 40,000 hours. Their conservation work covers everything
from walking route improvements, such as path clearance, gate
installation and bridge building, to drystone walling, hedgelaying,
scrub clearance and restoration of historic features. Wardens
also lead hundreds of guided walks every year and hold stands
at shows across the AONB. Congratulations to them and all the
other volunteers throughout the country who give up their time
for others and the countryside.
Back to the grindstone – literally
An unusual opportunity has opened up for volunteers
with the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT). The charity is looking to
recruit a team of millers to help operate the newly restored
mill machinery at its Cricklepit Mill on Exeter’s Quayside.
The volunteers will be trained to operate both of the two working
mill wheels along with learning how to grind corn into flour
so they can help out at special events at this recently restored
heritage site. The aim is to have two teams of four people trained
up in time for the grand opening of the Mill on April 17.
Volunteers are required to be physically fit
and able to lift heavy sacks. They should also be comfortable
talking to groups of people about the process of milling and
the link between how food is grown and the resultant impact on
The site was purchased in July 2004 by DWT
who planned to develop it into a historic and wildlife oriented
interpretation centre and headquarters. Over the past few years
the charity has concentrated on the lengthy process of restoring
the milling machinery.
For more information and to express an interest
in one of the posts contact Devon Wildlife Trust on 01392
279244 or email email@example.com
A few ‘grizzly’ observations
Further to my words in January, “...warm
autumn days following our wet summer appear to have caused confusion” John
Mounsey of Sedbergh adds that the confusion has spread to moths.
He tells me that in Cumbria common darter dragonflies do not
usually disappear by autumn, but on the contrary are often the
last dragonflies to be seen in the year, regularly in October
and even as late as November (1939).
“I was particularly interested in the ‘gristled
skipper’ butterfly [mentioned in January’s issue]
which sounds like quite a toughy and might well be expected to
muscle in on territory previously occupied by what I presume
is its close relation, the grizzled skipper.” adds John.
“This latter used to be found rarely
even as far north as Scotland and regularly in Durham and Northumberland.
It has not been seen there for many years, but has a number of
colonies in North Wales and up into Lincolnshire, so its presence
in the Midlands should not be much of a surprise. Incidentally,
a number of insects do seem to have been extending their range
northwards recently. Speckled wood and comma butterflies have
been marching north through my county of Cumbria, and the latest
addition has been the small skipper (perhaps fleeing from its
feared cousin the ‘gristled skipper’?).”
From your grizzled editor: my thanks to those
who wrote in amusing fashion about the ‘gristled skipper’.
The number of my own grey hairs increases by the minute.
Historical trees survey a success
The hunt for the Notable Trees of Norfolk has
resulted in over two hundred trees being reported. People from
all over the county got involved to help Norfolk Wildlife Trust
map the area’s most amazing trees and take part in tree
events and workshops.
NWT asked people to help them discover Norfolk’s most amazing
trees – trees so big that two or more adults couldn’t
join hands around the trunk, or a tree with an unusual story
associated with it. The largest tree reported – with a
massive nine-metre circumference – was an oak on a NWT
nature reserve at East Wretham Heath.
The most frequently reported species with over
half of the results was the oak. English oaks can live for over
a thousand years and support a huge range of other wildlife.
The second most reported species was beech, which if given enough
room to grow, can become a very impressively sized tree, forming
a strong, dome canopy. A sweet chestnut tree made it into the
top five with a circumference of 8m 40cm.
Lime, willow and ash were also recorded, along with other species
including black poplar, macrocarper and horse chestnut. The majority
of trees reported had a circumference of between 42-490cm: just
over three adults to hug a tree.
The great British landscape
Embrace your artistic side this Easter with
a trip to RHS Garden Rosemoor in Great Torrington to enjoy The
Great British Landscape Art Exhibition. This fantastic collection
is on show from 15-30 March, 11am-4pm each day, and is an exhibition
of works by some of the best contemporary British landscape artists.
The works, in oil, watercolour, mixed media,
print or needlework, have been brought together from all over
the UK and show a wide range of styles from the realistic to
the impressionist – each artist interpreting the landscape
in his or her own way. Judith Gardner, Richard Thorn, Chris Rigby
(see above) and Paul Lewin are just some of the artists featured.
The Great British Landscape Exhibition is organised
by Walton Nash Fine Art. Tel: 01483 892834.
The lucky Countryman Whisky Competition winners
(January) are: mixed case of Penderyn Single Malt, Mrs P Edwards,
Darwen, Lancashire; bottle of Penderyn Single Malt, Ann Lovegrove,
Compton Martin, Somerset; Greig Watts, Fenton, Staffordshire.