Blog

Here you'll find a record of some of our recent tasks. You'll read about what we do and how we do it. If you're interested, you can always join us! Just email info@cdcv.org.uk
 
 

Footpath restoration at The Cloud
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The footpath leading up to the summit of The Cloud has been used since Victorian times. In those days people used to walk up in their Sunday best. Today it's more casual clothing and walking boots. Not surprisingly the path has become badly eroded over the years and the inclement weather often experienced on The Cloud hasn't helped. This has been a continuing task for us over a number of years. Our objective is to rebuild the stone steps on one of the paths to the summit. These steps are placed around 5 metres apart and the idea is to reset them so that rain washes a sandy bed behind each step. This levels the path between steps and makes it easier to walk on. Many of the stones in the steps have been displaced and have to be reset. Some are extremely heavy! We are gradually progressing toward the summit and hope to finish it during the next two tasks in our summer 2014 programme.
 

Path Rebuilding at Borrow Pit
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Last Sunday we rebuilt the edge of a stretch of footpath near the Borrow Pit site in Alsager. This is a former landfill site which has been capped, planted and laid out with a circuit of footpaths. The footpaths have been created using a clayey-sand mix bordered on both sides by wooden boards. Some of the boards have moved, causing the edge of the path to start to collapse. For this task we first cleared a trench along the edge of the path and inserted new boards behind the old ones. These were held in place by wooden stakes. We then refilled the trench with earth and hardcore and finally resurfaced the edge of the path. We completed about 100 feet in the day's task.

First stage of hedge laying at Alderley Edge completed!
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The first weekend in February 2014 was our third visit to this hedge laying task Alderley Edge and we finally finished the run of several hundred metres of laid hedge. The end result looks excellent and should soon grow into a strong and livestock resistant barrier. All the cut branches were burned in a lively bonfire. Altogether a very neat job. After the task our National Trust ranger pointed out several more hedges of a couple of hundred metres each that could be next on our list! So why not come and help us!

Creating a "dead hedge" at Brereton Country Park
building dead hedge
On 19th January 2014 we were once again at Brereton Country Park but this time carried out a task we hadn't done there before. This was the creation of a "dead hedge". A "dead hedge" is basically a hedge constructed of either dead or freshly cut material but it is not intended to grow as for instance a newly planted or a layed hedge would. The hedge is essentially intended as a natural barrier built from unwanted material and used e.g. to protect newly planted trees. Work is being carried out at Brereton to extend the quantity of surfaced path leading from the car park and the woodland along one side of this path is being partially cleared and replanted with species such as blackthorn and hawthorne. We began by clearing the area of fallen branches and then cutting down a large number of unwanted elder trees. The thicker trunks of these elders were then lain in a row to form the base of the dead hedge. Once this base was in place the remaining smaller branches ("brash") were then woven into the base and gradually built up to a height of about a meter. The resultant hedge is very dense and strong and apart from its protective role also provides an excellent habitat for small wildlife. 
   
   

Hedge laying near Alderley Edge
pleaching
We've carried out several hedge laying tasks in late 2013 and early 2014 working with the National Trust near Alderley Edge. A several hundred meter long hawthorne hedge along one boundary to National Trust property has now grown too high and needed lowering to about a meter and a half. The method chosen was to lay the hedge which involves partly cutting through the stem of each hawthorne bush and then "laying" it one side to form a hedge. Firstly all the undergrowth and lower branches of the hawthornes are removed. Then the stems are partly cut through with a saw, followed by thinning the stem with an axe to the point where the stem can be "folded" to one side (a process known as "pleaching"). Because the stem is not completely cut through, the hawthorne continues to live and soon sprouts again to form a dense hedge. There is some skill involved in this process but it is a popular one with the Conservation team, not the least because it usually involves building a bonfire to get rid of waste branches!

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