Making a start at Hindolveston 5th January 2023 by Stu Buck
A new site for a work party, Hindolveston attracted 11 willing volunteers for a morning of border control, gate installation and pathfinding. I think it was the new site being the attraction, although it's possible it could have been the jam doughnuts...
The site is 2 acres of woodland and scrub with a number of wet pits, beside a road, amidst arable farmland and next to a row of cottages.
As parking is very restricted, limited to a roadside pull in big enough for 5 or 6 cars, car sharing from WBOA was the plan for those of us who lived that way, while those closer to Hindolveston drove straight to the site, were picked up on the way or cycled.
As well as volunteers, various cars carried gate posts, a gate, fence posts, fencing rails, fencing wire, and all the tools needed to dig post holes, drive in fence posts, clear brush and undergrowth, fix a gate and trim branches.
We split into 3 groups. One to drive in fence posts and fix rails to demarcate the border of the site near the neighbouring houses. Another to clear the area where a pedestrian gate would be placed and to start finding a path into the very overgrown wood itself. The third would dig the post holes for the gate, fix the gate and erect fencing rails either side of the entrance.
The weather was mostly ok, with just a short period of drizzle, so although quite physical work it was nice enough and not too mucky!
Finding a suitable path into the depths of the site will take time as there is currently no existing access, with pits to avoid, fallen trees to clear and plenty of scrub and bramble to negotiate. A few of us began following what was probably a deer track, clearing brambles and fallen branches whilst Liz forged on ahead with her trusty secateurs as pathfinder to survey the best way forward. We did lose her for a while but the call of 'doughnuts' at the break saw her emerge from the jungle with stories of reaching the far end of the wood.
The border fence went up although there weren't enough posts to finish the job so this will need to be done another time. The Trust has already engaged with our neighbouring residents who seem happy with the Trust's plans for the site and had no objections to the work we were doing. Coincidentally Val also met the neighbouring farmer while we were there and so was able to explain what we were doing and are about. Nick got chatting with a passer-by who used to live in one of the neighbouring cottages and was interested in what was going on.
The post holes for the gate posts were dug with an antique but absolutely brilliant hole borer, with some assistance from post hole spades to clear large stones. The posts were lowered in and levelled and the holes backfilled with tamped soil and rubble. Peter drilled the holes for the hinges by eye, getting them spot on straight and the gate was soon hung on its post. The second post hole was dug, the post erected and fitted with the latch, and we had a gateway. Posts and rails were put up either side, and we had an entrance, and the Felbeck Trust signage was added.
Val was keeping a list of birds seen on the day. I'm not sure what the final tally was but I'm looking forward to returning for a wander to see what's there. As I left 3 of the gang were still there well after the planned finishing time. I didn't feel guilty as I was happy I'd done my bit, as we all had, and anyway I had a date with a rare warbler at Brancaster to get to.
Another enjoyable few hours spent working but in a relaxed way and achieving something for nature and wildlife. I can thoroughly recommend it. Did I mention the doughnuts...