Monday, 23 November 2015

Autumn Colours

At Wenlock we are surrounded by an array of Autumn colours, with various shades of reds, oranges, yellows and browns. It is a beautiful time of year and such a lovely way to witness the seasons changing as we watch the faded leaves flutter down to the ground. With the strong winds we have been experiencing, the trees are starting to look quite bare now, their leaves have left their branches and the trees are preparing themselves for Winter. Now, under foot, we hear the satisfying crunch of the leaf litter below as we tread our way through the woods.

Autumn colours

Cleaning, Thinning and Winching

Last weekend we spent time clearing litter from the Presthope car park and the Presthope trail walk. The visitor experience always should begin in the car park, so the appearance of these sites is very important and regular maintenance is essential.

We also went around Much Wenlock car park and Wenlock and thoroughly cleaned the Amiga signs, notice boards and road signs, which were looking grubby and needed a thorough clean. Again, we did this to maintain the appearance of the site and also to make sure it is obvious to ‘passers-by’ in cars where the National Trust Much Wenlock car park is, as it wasn’t very clear.

Cleaning the road signs in Much Wenlock

‘Many hands make light work’
Recently on Wenlock Edge a lot of thinning and winching has been taking place, with lots more planned throughout the winter. There has been extensive thinning at Longville Coppice, Harley bank and Smokey Hole, where there is a mixture of beech, sycamore, ash and hazel.

Working alongside the contactors and with volunteer Pete Hampton, we have been manually pulling, and using the tractor mounted winch, large amounts of felled wood down the steep and slippery slopes. We dragged the lengths down to the pathway below, cut them into 3m sections and stacked them into piles ready for collection by the forwarder to be sold as firewood.

Thinning is necessary to create space for remaining trees and to let light in to the woodland floor; this is done by selecting the healthiest trees to stay and marking the poor quality trees to be felled. A tree is classed as poor quality if it is forked, damaged, twisted or leaning – the wood will be sold to people locally to use as fuel. Other benefits from thinning are an increase in ground flora, increase biodiversity of flora and fauna and create a sustainable income.

Glynn (one of the contractors) cutting the logs into 3m sections

Pete (one of the volunteers) putting the cut logs into piles

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Halloween at Wenlock Edge

Last Saturday, for the first time at Wenlock Edge, we held two Halloween events. An earlier one, commencing at 3pm from Presthope carpark, for the younger children and a later version, starting at 7pm at Much Wenlock carpark, for the braver of us wanting a spookier experience in the dark. The turnout for both events was fantastic and there was an array of lots of scary costumes ranging from Dracula to black cats.

At the beginning the children all made their own bats and told some of their own spooky stories before setting out on the ghostly walk through the spookily decorated woods, with numerous, allegedly true ghost stories, based in and around Wenlock Edge on the way. The children heard stories from two witches and a ghostly quarryman, and also heard about the famous Ippikins and Major’s Leap legends.

Making a bat

Spooktastic costumes!
For the later event, the All Hallows Eve walk, we began our route through Blakeway Hollow and made our way to Smokey Hole (an area of kilns and charcoal hearths) - apparently the ghostliest part of the Edge - where we came across numerous spooky characters who told their stories of the Edge, including a witch at her cauldron and campfire and the reappearance of the quarryman chipping away at the rock; oh, and not to forget a naughty goblin who kept jumping out to make our hearts race!

We finished this walk by trying out some bat detectors to see if we could track any bats in the area; we were unsure if we did trace the clicking noise of a bat, however the children (and adults) seemed to enjoy using these and were determined to track one down!

Overall, two very fun and spooky Halloween events which we are going to hold again next year due to their success.

Listening to the Major's leap legend
A frightening ghoul
Listening to the witches tales