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A Day of Fire and Ice

Saturday, December 2nd 2017

First the ice.  Although a thaw was on the way, the ice on the access road was still causing problems for the first arrivals for December's Winter Worky Day with one car needing to be pushed to escape being stuck.  A quick inspection of the wetland ponds made it clear that one of the planned activities for the day would not be taking place as the ice was still nearly 2 centimetres thick.  There was no chance that anyone would be able to get into the ponds to carry on with the pulling of vegetation, so it was on to Plan B for most of the 22 volunteers.  

However, one of the other planned activities was starting work on coppicing hazel on the side of Risedale Beck to allow more light to the ground and encourage the wild flowers to grow.  It is always a race to get this done before the plants start growing when doing this work will cause more harm as the emerging leaves and shoots are trampled.  This work will carry on until Christmas to leave the area undamaged but there are already signs of small Primrose leaves as they have reacted to the previous warm weather.

And so to the fire.  Or more accurately, three fires.  Some of the hazel being cut was burnt on the site of a previous fire to avoid causing further damage, while the rest of the volunteers cut the Gorse that was starting to take over the bank next to the wetlands and Plover's Pool.  Much of this was cleared with loppers and bowsaws, with the vegetation again being burnt on a former fire site.  Over on the moorland, chainsaws were used to attack larger stands of Gorse and prepare the cut vegetation ready for burning.

The team working next to Plover's Pool removed all but a small area of Gorse which was left for the sheep to find shelter if the weather was bad.  The amount of Gorse on the moorland meant that, although a large area was cleared, this made little impression and further work will continue here.

The fires (and lots of physical work) helped to keep everyone warm on a day that started out cold.  By the end of the day it was much warmer, but still the ice was on the wetland ponds.  This was another excellent effort by the volunteers who clearly enjoyed the day, so a big thank you to all involved.

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