2014 Event Reports

22nd October 2014 – Fungus Foray at Moor Green Lakes – by Sue Cload

Mike Waterman led the Fungus Foray and encouraged us all to search everywhere for likely specimens. He was able to identify most of them but also took some away for analysis later.

In all we found an amazing 37 different species. Six members and two non members joined Mike, our fungus expert, and BVCT Trustees Ken and Sue looking on and under trees, searching undergrowth and even cow pats. It was a lovely fresh morning and a pleasure to be on such a beautiful site in the sunshine.

Fungus appears in many forms and environments:

 

Red spots on bramble leaves                                     Bracket on tree

 

Sometimes fungi are individually small but in large groups, as left photo,

Others are large and it is easier to see mature and young specimens as these Parasols.

Part of the identification of each fungus was its associated organism. This could be a certain species of tree, eg. the Turkeytail bracket fungus on an oak tree stump; the Orange Mosscap in a patch of moss on the ground; the Split Porecrust whitening a fallen branch.

We found one rare fungus – boletus cisalpinus [ranked 59 in the British Fungi Records Database – under 100 is rare], and five between rare and common [in the Database over 1000 is common].

Ken improved his wildlife skills by persuading a young swan to return to the lake via a gate rather than trying to squeeze through a small square in the fence wire. Ken’s photo shows what the swan thought of his hi-viz orange jacket.

 

photos – Ken Bygrave

Whilst he was busy, others in the group found some beautiful orange red Fly Agarics near the lake.

 

Thanks to Mike for leading the event and providing the excellent summary of what we found (here), Richard for members’ events advertising emails, Moor Green Lakes Group for putting up the event posters.

photo – Don Cload (Fly Agaric 2013)

A printable comprehensive key to fungi may be downloaded here.


18th October 2014 – Deepcut Walk – by Clive AndrewsPerhaps because of the recent change in weather from our very dry summer and the wet outlook for Saturday, numbers were down compared with our previous walk. However, although overcast, the weather remained dry and recent heavy rain had not greatly affected the route taken, with the paths remaining reasonably usable, except for the occasional and easily avoided large puddle. This year, our walk started from the centre of Deepcut village and by avoiding the section from Frimley Lodge Park, from where we started last year, allowed us to concentrate the walk totally on the area surrounding the village.

We initially walked south through the village, passing the curious regimental church of St Barbara which is constructed from corrugated iron, to enter a wooded path into the woods just north of the Basingstoke Canal. During the First World War a short length of railway was constructed to link Deepcut Baracks with Bisley camp and the main railway at Brookwood. This line, constructed by Canadian troops aided by German prisoners of war, was opened by King George V and Queen Mary in 1917 but closed soon after the end of the war. Looking at old maps suggested that the path we took followed the course of this railway.

Our route took us to Lock 28 which is the first of the Pirbright flight of 14 locks between Deepcut and Brookwood. The current lock cottage was built in 1925, replacing an earlier building, and the adjacent dry dock and workshop were demolished in the 1930s. However they have now been reinstated and were used in the restoration of the canal in the 1980s.  We next walked back, along the canal tow path, to Deepcut Bridge, through the deep cutting from which the local village derives its name. The banks of the canal are wooded with beech and sweet chestnut and this time of year the autumn browns of the leaves make this section of the canal a colourful site.

After a short walk beside the road, we headed for the wooded region to the west of Deepcut, first taking the private Bellew Road and then entering the wooded region via the many gravel paths and minor unmade roads that crisscross this region. The southern section of these woods still belongs to the MOD and is still in use for training purposes and reminded us that much of the village owed its existence to the coming of the army to this region in 1894 and the building of permanent camps in Edwardian times.  In modern times, many of these camps have now closed leaving the Princess Royal Barracks, which is the headquarters of the Royal Logistic Corps, as the last remaining. However, shortly this too is to go and in 2016 we expect the Deepcut plan to commence with the building of 1,200 houses and some retail development; this will completely change the nature of Deepcut.

Although the woods adjacent to Deepcut are close to the local Thames basin heathland special protection area, the area is in no way typical of open heath with the southern part of the area wooded mostly with stands of coniferous trees. As we moved through the woods we noticed areas of sweet chestnut and in places some of the traditional woodland deciduous trees and bushes such as oak, holly and beech as well as some silver birch in areas that had clearly grown over in more recent years.

Our walk continued over Frith Hill and then entered an area known as the Frimley Fuel allotments.  Two hundred years ago, almost every village had a plot of land set aside to enable the poor to cut turf or wood for their domestic fires, but as coal and coke became more readily available, these fuel allotments died out. However Frimley Fuel Allotments, which was formally established by an act of parliament in 1785, remained in use until the start of the 20th century and today continues as a local charity set up to assist people in distress. Part of the charity’s land is leased to a local golf course and part is conserved for wildlife and open green space.

We continued by following a path that first took us beside the northerly fringes of the golf course and then, following a small stream, took us on a wooded route that passed between two sections of this golf course. This stream featured two small woodland ponds which although on inspection looked partly artificial, added an interesting water feature to the otherwise wooded surrounds.

The final part of our return route took us back across Frith Hill.  Frith Hill is interesting historically because during September 1914 a temporary tented prisoner of war camp was opened here which was used to house both German POWs and German Aliens. In 1915 the German Artist George Kenner, working in London at the start of the war, was imprisoned here where he painted a number of scenes depicting life in the camp. Several of his sketches have been acquired by Surrey Heath Museum and have recently been restored.

Although, because of the many trails in the area, we didn’t precisely follow the intended route, we did emerge exactly at the correct point adjacent to Blackdown Road and only a short distance from our starting point, where we said our final farewells before returning home. The walk, with all of the colours of autumn, was a very pleasant stroll, was completed within the advertised time, and enjoyed by all of us who came along. I look forward to repeating this walk next year which will be the last before the Deepcut plan commences, although proposals for improved pedestrian and cycle links in the area, detailed in the plan, may possibly enhance the route in future years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photos – Clive Andrews

Note;  Pictures were taken the Thursday before the walk when, unexpectedly, there was a spell of blue sky.

 


27th September 2014 – Canal Walk – by Clive Andrews

The route of our canal walk this year was almost identical to the trail followed in 2013 and although held in September, rather than July last year, we were again blessed with fine weather. At the start the sky was overcast but cleared as the day wore on and with temperatures a little lower than August, the footpaths dry and in good condition, the chosen date proved ideal for a walk. It was well attended (20 participants) and we all came together well socially as a bunch of friends all of whom I believe enjoyed the occasion; hence I shall be repeating this walk next year on September 19th.

We started from the Canal Centre at Mytchett because of the convenience and facilities that this site has to offer. The route then logically divided into three parts; the first through the wooded area behind the Canal Centre and then following a trail just east of the canal to Windmill Lane, to emerge at the canal bridge near the Kings Head pub at Frimley Green. We then continued along the canal towpath, through the cutting at Deepcut to Curzon Bridge near the fourth of the 14 Brookwood flight of locks. After a short path through a delightfully wooded area between the railway and Gapemouth Road (B3012), referred to on the maps as Hodge Bottom, we crossed Gapemouth Road for our final section, in a SW direction. This passed over the low gravel ridge (height 330 feet), which is effectively a continuation of the Ash Ranges to the east, and is also used for Army exercises, and finally returned us to the Canal Centre where we started.

Amongst my favourite sections of the walk is the section from Deepcut Bridge to the Curzon Bridge. The canal passes through a deep cutting in this section from which the village of Deepcut derives its name. The banks of this section are now wooded with mature beech trees which, although always attractive, are particularly so in late September and October, when the leaves take on the first russet tints of autumn. I have often observed a grey heron in this section and this year we were lucky to see the bird standing ahead of us. As we approached, it gracefully and slowly, in a fashion that only herons can, glided off and disappeared into the trees on the adjacent bank.

This year we were pleased to see that the locks of the Brookwood flight were fully restored and active again and that the maintenance of the canal still seriously continues. Prior to its acquisition by Surrrey and Hampshire councils and its subsequent restoration in the 1970s, the canal was in a state of almost complete dereliction. Not only is the Basingstoke Canal important as part of our local industrial history, it also provides us with a delightful green habitat passing through our very urban local surroundings.

The first and final stages of the walk passed through the partly open and partly coniferous regions that are part of and typify the local Thames basin special protection area. In the past, much of our locality was wild open heathland with little habitation and in the 18th century tales of local highwaymen abounded.  Modern development has caused much of this open heathland to be lost, both here and throughout Europe, and hence the protection of our local heathland is important both for preservation of this habitat and also for the support of certain bird species such as the Dartford Warbler and the Nightjar.

On our route we made a slight deviation to reach a place that secures a fine view to the west over Farnborough and across the valley towards Blackbushe and Hartford Bridge Flats. On the day, the view was very clear and it was easy to identify some of the significant buildings of Farnborough, such as Farnborough Hill School and the dome of the mausoleum of Farnborough Abbey.


19th and 26th September – BVCT Bat Walks – by Sue Cload

  • 19th September 2014 at Shepherd Meadows, Sandhurst,
  • 26th September at Camp Farm Road, Aldershot (by kind permission of Aldershot Garrison Angling Club)

Led by Steve Bailey, BVCP Manager, and assisted by Bernard Baverstock and myself, 19 people attended the first walk, only one of which had been on one before. We had several family groups and a great mix of ages including grandparents. Several had heard of the event via Street Life and one had been given a leaflet by an aunt! Thanks to those families who joined on the night. Several BVCT members had seen the event on Richard’s monthly BVCT news update.

It was a relatively light evening with mist rising from the river, so the bats took a while to appear. Steve gave a talk, then distributed bat detectors and explained how to set them to certain frequencies so the bats could be heard if not seen. The detectors convert the bats’ echo location calls to a frequency that humans can hear.  One lad of five years could hear the bats before the detectors picked them up, so he was very pleased that he could tell us they were coming.

Before long we heard Soprano Pipistrelles flying around the trees and shrubs. One was very interested in us (or we were on its flight path – we weren’t quite sure!) so most people saw a bat flying in the twilight.

Two new pistol type torches, purchased from funds raised in this year’s Bat Appeal, were used at the event. The torches are lightweight and produce a strong beam of light for viewing the bats. The beams were particularly good for picking out the water bats (Daubenton’s bats) hunting on both the lake at Sandhurst Memorial Park and under the bridge en route to the Park. Water bats pick insects off the water with their big hairy feet and they can also use their tails as a scoop.

We saw fewer bats than usual. Steve thought this was probably because the weather had been good recently allowing the bats to feed up at will.

Several people had stories about bats, from bats in barns, near houses locally and in Spain! One young lad was already very interested in them and had already produced a 60-slide presentation about bats.

The second walk was very similar, with 18 participants, including five children, and the same bats (the same kinds, not exactly the same bats …..)


3rd August – Dragonfly Walk on Wildmoor Heath – by Sue Cload

An enthusiastic group of 16 people gathered for our dragonfly walk on Wildmoor Heath.

[10 BVCT members, 3 dragonfly recorders and 3 non-members.]

 

The walk was expertly led by Mike Turton who is the county dragonfly recorder for Berkshire. He also surveys transects on Wildmoor Heath as part of his recording, so knows the good dragonfly spots, particularly breeding areas. For more information about British dragonflies see the British Dragonfly Society website www.british-dragonflies.org.uk.

We were very lucky and saw 13 different types of dragonflies; these are listed further below in the order we saw them. There were other types but we weren’t close enough to correctly identify them, although they certainly lived up to their names as they darted, skimmed, chased and hunted in the sunshine. They also disappeared completely when the sun went behind a cloud!

 

 

 

 

 

We were also lucky enough to see a Clouded Yellow Butterfly, a Silver Studded Blue Butterfly and a Wasp Spider. It is amazing what you can find if you are looking!

 

 

The Blackwater Valley Dragonflies book by Ken Crick and Jim Bennett is recommended especially for beginners and for local Blackwater Valley dragonflies and damselflies. The book can be purchased at BVC events or from Ash Lock for £2.50. Other books are:

Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain & Ireland by Steve Brooks, illustrated by Richard Lewington.
Britain’s Dragonflies a field guide to the damselflies and dragonflies of Britain and Ireland by Dave Smallshire & Andy Swash

If you want to try and identify exuviae, then use:
Field Guide to the Larvae and Exuviae of British Dragonflies by Steve Cham

The dragonflies we saw were:

Common DarterThe most frequent dragonfly seen on the walk. They were flying over the ponds and in pairs egg-laying.

 

 

 

Keeled SkimmerThe male body is a beautiful turquoise blue; it was seen flying over the ponds and in pairs egg-laying

 

 

 

Large Red Damselfly – A beautiful red and delicate damselfly.

Emerald DamselflyMike caught one and it was great to see it up close.

The male is identified by the emerald green abdomen with the two blue segments at the end

 

 

Small Red Damselfly – A speciality of Wildmoor as it is an acid heath species; the male is shorter and a brighter red than the Large Red Damselfly (Photo of a pair mating)

 

 

 

Four-spotted Chaser – Their wings glittered in the sun as the chasers flew around the pond

Brown Hawker – The only dragonfly with brown wings hence the name. But see it in the sun and its wings are a beautiful bronze. I think it should be renamed the Bronze Hawker!

Broad Bodied Chaser – The male body is also a beautiful turquoise blue but much chunkier than the Keeled Skimmer; seen flying over the ponds

Emperor – The largest of the UK dragonflies. Sideways they look like little helicopters with a green thorax and blue abdomen. When they hang up they have a black stripe down the back of the abdomen (see photo).

 

 

 

Ruddy Darter – The male has a hairy brown thorax and a blood red abdomen; much redder than the Common Darter

Azure Blue Damselfly – This damselfly likes smaller ponds and streams. Identification of the blue male is not easy but was confirmed as it was mating with a green female.

Southern Hawker – A large dragonfly with broad stripes, it was seen hunting above the ponds.

Migrant Hawker – These like flying round in groups and we saw four high above our car park.

photos – Alan West, Ken Bigrave and Don Cload


2nd August – Small Mammal Trapping at Moor Green Lakes – by Bernard Baverstock

This event, which was postponed from May, eventually took place on the 2nd August. A few of the original people could not attend but they were replaced by a similar number of new people from a notice to the Trust and MGLG members.

I had three keen helpers to fill and set-out traps on Thursday evening and we were joined by another person on Friday evening, when the traps were refilled and set to trap.

 

 

Saturday morning was mild, bright and cloudy with no sign of the threatened showers, just right for checking the traps. Unfortunately two people were unable to attend on the day but this gave a good sized group of nine who were able to take part in all the aspects of trap checking – indeed, their enthusiastic help was a great bonus to the leader.

The cattle had been on the reserve a short time and there were some areas that had been quite heavily grazed (they seem to have liked the stinging nettles!) but there was plenty of cover to place the traps.

The first three traps we opened had two wood mice and one bank vole, so this was a good omen. The next tripped traps had a female, then male, yellow-necked mouse, and this set the pattern for the rest. By the end of the session, and after getting a male yellow-necked mouse from the 42nd trap, we had had a total of 27 animals. Wood mice were the most numerous with 17, including two very young individuals that had not got their adult pelage, and a very pregnant female which was caught in a trap that had been sealed with leaves during the previous night, when the traps are left open. Yellow-necked mice were next with a total of six, and again one of these was a youngster, but it clearly showed the full collar markings that distinguish it from the wood mouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bank voles made up the total with four individuals, and the sex ratio of three females to one male was the opposite of the two mouse species. Unusually we did not catch any shrews in this trapping session.

 

 

photos – Chris Rose,Jeff Atkins, Grant Evans

It was good to see and be able to show these animals to members as it shows that there is more to the reserve than just visiting birds, although the barn owl is probably most appreciative of the number of small mammals available as food.

Trapping will again be taking place on the Open Day, 31st August, and hopefully next year I will be able to get back to an earlier date for the first trapping session.

I was very grateful to those that attended for their help in checking, recording and helping to carry the traps. It was altogether a very pleasant morning.


12th July 2014 – Blackwater & Hawley Fayre – by Ken Bigrave

A very pleasant day was spent at the annual Blackwater & Hawley fete where the BVCT set up shop and educated those who were gently enticed into our Marquee of the hidden gem that is on their doorstep – Blackwater Valley.  Joined by Sue Cload, Chris Smith, Steve Bailey, Bernard Baverstock and Ken Bow we spent the day with kids (and some parents) pond dipping, inspecting snails,  water beetles and other pond life as well as having the chance to get up close to some common newts kindly brought in by Bernard.

As well as chatting & talking with numerous people, answering their questions and in some cases their concerns we managed to sell a number of books and signed up some new members with hopefully some more in the pipeline. Much to Sue’s delight her Bat appeal display went down very well attracting quite a few people of all ages to view and ask all sorts of questions concerning bats.

Our thanks to Father Neale and his team for putting together a very traditional Fete and also for making sure it did not rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 


28th June 2014 – Pond Dipping In The Rain – by Colin Wilson

The weather was beautiful during the morning but as our event time approached at Watchmoor Park the heavens opened, the thunder clapped and the lightning flashed. But several families still braved the wet to find the leeches, dragonfly larvae, sticklebacks, snails, water boatmen and other creatures in the pond! Beneath our gazebo, parents shared the fascination with the life that lives in our ponds. Our thanks go to Laura and Steve from the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership for their help, for bringing the gazebo and furniture and for taking it back to dry! And most of all thanks to the families that came along, some of them joining the Trust after they saw the value of our work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photos -Colin Wilson


June 21st 2014 –  Minley Walk – by Clive Andrews

Our June walk initially followed a route in the Minley area just north west of Cove, Farnborough, and covered areas close to and either side of the M3 motorway, and ended by following a route through the locally popular Hawley Woods just north of Cove.

The weather was absolutely ideal, being warm and sunny with not a cloud in the sky. The wet winter seems to have stimulated lush growth everywhere and the greens of the open spaces and dark verdure of the trees seemed to sparkle in the warm sunshine and contrast with the bright blue of the sky.

Our walk commenced along the old Bramshot lane where we passed the Grade 2 listed timber-framed Great Bramshot House which dates back to the 17th  century. We then branched west, past Little Bramshot Farm (the site of another of the old farms of the area), into an open grassland area that contains part of the Foxlease and Ansells Meadow Sites of Special Scientific Interest. This locality, wet and boggy in places, features a mixture of open meadow, acid grassland and wet heath habitats and is in places grazed by cattle to preserve and enhance the natural characteristics of the site.

A little further on just across the motorway, our next stop of interest was an army constructed bailey bridge across a small shallow valley. This bridge, which is titled the Chimaera Bridge 1995, but sometimes called locally the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ as it presumably serves no other purpose than for army training, and also to remind us indirectly that the nearby Gibraltar Barracks is occupied by the Royal Engineers.

 

Taking the path through Minley Woods we ascended slightly and walked around the outer perimeter of Minley Manor. Minley Manor was constructed between 1858 and 1860, in the style of a French Chateau, for Raikes Currie, a partner in the Glyn Mills’ Bank. Both this Grade 2 listed building and the surrounding grounds were further extended and enhanced by successive members of the Currie family until 1934, when it was sold to the War Office (earlier name for the Ministry of Defence), and has been used since 1971 as the Officers’ Mess for the Royal Engineers stationed in nearby Gibraltar Barracks. Recently the army declared the property surplus to requirements and in May of this year it was put on the market.

Our walk took us past the now sadly crumbling remains of Home Farm built in the same redbrick style as the Manor. The courtyard of these buildings, with its low bell tower over the main entrance, must have, 50 years ago, been an imposing site but the passage of time and general neglect have now degraded it to a sad and derelict ruin.

 

 

After crossing the A327 Minley Road, our walk continued by making our way through Hawley Woods to Hawley Lake, an impressive local water whose surrounds were also developed by the Currie family as a pleasure garden, and is now used by the Royal Engineers for training and as a yachting club. That part of our route, immediately adjacent to the lake, is quite sandy and has a veritable seaside feel about it.

 

Our walk concluded by passing the site of Thomson’s Track, at the south west corner of Hawley Wood, which was once an army cinder running track, used by recruits in the 1950s and reminded us that nearby was once the site of Guillemont Barracks, built in 1938 and then occupied by Canadians during WWII and later in the 50s by part of the Royal Engineers’ training regiment. The name comes from a village in France that was fought over and captured by the British in 1916, during the terrible battle of the Somme

photos -Clive Andrews


10th May 2014 – Finchampstead Circular Walk – by Clive Andrews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the weather outlook for our walk was pessimistic we were fortunate that the conditions remained mostly dry except for a few spots of rain halfway round. Our 5.2 mile walk started from the Horseshoe Lake activity centre at Little Sandhurst and then followed a footpath approximately north to Ambarrow Lane where we picked up the footpath which passes through Bluebell Wood and then ascends to Wellingtonia Avenue and the Finchampstead Ridges.  Unfortunately the bluebell season was early this year so we missed the best of the display of blue that, in late April and early May, carpets the woods adjacent to this footpath.

Wellingtonia Avenue was laid out in 1860 and planted either side with a double row of 100 giant Redwood trees, spaced about 75 feet apart, as a memorial to the Duke of Wellington. Our walk took us across Wellingtonia Avenue and through the adjacent Simon’s Wood to Heath Pond. Prior to modern times, the low nutrient acidic sandy soils of this locality would have been managed as open heathland covered by gorse and common heather. However the decline of heathland farming practices throughout the 19th century saw the spread of trees such as Scots Pine and Silver Birch, which do well on these areas of poor soils, and hence open heathland gave way to the wooded areas that currently exist.  We noticed some areas in Simons Wood where attempts to restore the open heathland had been made.

The trackway just north of Heath Pond coincides with the route of the Roman way between Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum) and London known traditionally as the Devil’s Highway.

Both Finchampstead Ridges and the Simon’s Wood area (named after Mr C G H Simon) are owned by the National Trust, in part being acquired when estates in the area were being broken up and sold off during the Edwardian period and therefore represent some of the Trust’s earliest acquisitions. To the south, from the highest point of the ridges, there are fine panoramic views across the Blackwater Valley to the nearby areas of Hampshire and Berkshire. Looking west it’s just possible to see Hannington Hill (near Kingsclere) on the horizon.

Our route from the ridges descended down to the Blackwater, passing the Moor Green Reserve on route. This nature reserve, taking its name from the nearby farm, was created from two restored gravel pits in 1993 and is currently managed by the Moor Green Lakes Group, the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership, and Wokingham Borough Council. It’s very typical of the way the landscape beside the Blackwater has changed in the last 20 years or so, evolving from a traditional mixed farming scene to a local lakeland.  As gravel and sand extraction continues alongside the Blackwater, new pits are established and when worked out are restored for fishing, boating, or as local wildlife reserves.

The final leg of our walk was along the Blackwater river path to our starting point at Horseshoe Lake. This stretch is also part of the Three Castles long distance path that stretches from Winchester to Windsor.

photos – Clive Andrews


5th May 2014 – BVCT at Yateley May Fair – by Sue Cload

Although we were a little undermanned on our stand due to too many Trustees being on holiday at the same time, Ken Bigrave, Chris Smith and myself, together with Steven from the Partnership, had a busy and interesting day.

We gave our new branded gazebo and Coot feather flags their first outings, so look out for them at other fairs and fetes this summer. They make us much easier to spot amongst all the stalls and crowds enjoying the sun!

We had lots of information available about the Blackwater Valley and as always people were surprised by facts like how long the Blackwater Valley Path is, (about 23 miles), and were keen to buy books and have maps for new walks.

 

waiting for custom!

 

Pond dipping was on offer and even the Mayor was encouraged into our gazebo to have a go. It is amazing how many bugs of different sizes can be found in the results of one pond dip! You think you’ve seen them all  and then an eagle-eyed child catches a new one.

the Mayor tries his hand

Bat Boxes and Bat Sightings

Our Appeal focus for this year is “Homes for Bats”. Later in the day we displayed a bat box on the stall with lots of information about bats. This provoked a lot of interest and people were very keen to share their local knowledge of these flying mammals. We are collating  sightings to get a better picture of bats in and around the valley, so please let us know of any that you’ve seen.

photos – Sue Cload


27th April 2014 – Walk the Path 2014 – Sandhurst to Swallowfield – by Ken Bigrave

Organising an event such as the Walk the Path takes a lot of time and effort. The planning started in November and we worked through the winter months bringing together the various ‘tasks’ that make up the walk. As we moved into April there was, as always, a hive of activity as we moved to finalise everything in time for the main event – but always the one question on my mind was “Will the weather gods be kind this year?”

“Thank you so much to all the volunteers, who always smiled and encouraged us, even through the rain”

06.00: Well the day is now upon us and although it rained during the night it’s currently looking fine. It’s an early start, up at 6am in order to get one of the minibuses down to Sandhurst in time to be picked up and driven to Swallowfield. As I arrive at Sandhurst already the rangers are active erecting the gazebo used for registration and will soon be moving on to install others at Horseshoe Lake and MASDAR used for the refreshment breaks.  Again I check for signs of rain but still it’s looking good with breaks in the cloud allowing some sunshine to break through – fingers crossed.

“Thank you for organising yet another fantastic day’s walking!”

08.30: Lots of people milling round with the registration point now set up, early walkers arriving, ‘cut the ribbon’ being set up in readiness for the Mayor and water bottles being placed for the start due at 9.15am. Mayor has arrived along with the photographer and the first group is ready and waiting to go. First bus has arrived from Swallowfield bringing in more walkers most with smiley faces and looking forward to a fun day. Stormy clouds forming but still fair weather!

“Hello! I just wanted to thank you, the BVCT, and the many helpers, marshals etc, for organising that excellent walk yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed it, my first WTP”

09.15: The refreshments locations have been set up, road marshals are in place, Mayor has been photographed cutting the ribbon and the first group has now left, led by Paul Sanders. More walkers are arriving on foot, by car and by minibus from Swallowfield and it’s getting very busy especially at the registration point. Christine and Sue are doing an amazing job managing the ever growing number of walkers. Reports of possible rain but so far it’s stayed dry.

As always, you and all the others in your team provided a really well organized event. Please extend our thanks to all, we really appreciated the effort”

11.15: The last walking group has left Sandhurst with the first one already passing through Horseshoe Lake and moving on to MASDAR. Organisers have moved on to other locations along the route and focus is now on refreshments and road safety. A report that a group of walkers drove to the wrong location (somewhere in Guildford?) and hot water issues due to a generator failure. Thankfully the walkers have been located and still managed the walk, and hot water has been provided in time for the first walkers arriving at MASDAR. Weather on the change with reports of heavy downpours!

“This was a very enjoyable walk – thank you to everyone involved in the organisation of the event”

14.00: After first calling in at the two refreshment points, where everything was running like clockwork, now arrived at Swallowfield and waiting for the first of the walkers to appear out of the mist coming from Swallowfield Park. Surprise, surprise, it’s raining now at times quite heavily and we can see the first of the walkers coming over the bridge looking a little wet and muddy but they are smiling and look like they have enjoyed themselves. Reports of flooding at Swallowfield Park so off to check. The river has flooded with the path now under water but Paul has come to the rescue diverting walkers across the meadow holding down an electrified animal fence for walkers to cross – a hero in the making.

“Just wanted to thank you and all the people who helped today. Myself and my friends really enjoyed it and appreciated you all putting yourselves out and organising it so well!”

17.00: It’s now 5pm and we are shutting down with the last of the walkers now accounted for. The pub is very busy with food and drinks being served for those who stayed. Tales of the walk are already being shared with kingfishers being seen, bluebells in abundance, friendships being formed and even a story of two or more walkers who waded through the flooded area before Paul’s diversion was put in place – and it’s still raining.

“We have just come back from Walk the Path 2014. It was very enjoyable (in spite of the mud and occasional rain) and we were extremely impressed at how well organized the whole thing was – every detail seemed to have been taken care of and as far as we could see it all went like clockwork”

To round off we had over 230 walkers taking part (that’s 50% up compared to last year), and initial feedback has been very positive in spite of the inclement weather.

I’d like to express my most sincere thanks to my fellow organisers and helpers on the day, including the walk marshals, for making this a successful event. Without these individuals this event would not be possible. Also a big thank you to the 230 walkers, who attended, completed, and smiled throughout the walk. You are my heroes and I’m now looking forward to WtP15!

We are already recruiting helpers for the next event so if you are interested please let us know.


21st March 2014 – One Good Tern …. by Mike Swaddling

Many months since it was first a twinkle in Trustee Colin Wilson’s eye, the Tern Raft at Frimley Hatches was launched on March 21st 2014 (see previous stories).

Having been delivered from the specialist builders to Ash Lock a few days before, the raft was transported to the launch site where several ready, willing and able (some more than others) volunteers and Trustees were waiting. Fortunately the assembly instructions were not from the IKEA manual and, with only a couple of minor glitches, five hours later it sat out on the middle of the lake awaiting its first tenants.

photo – Chris Bean

 

Thanks to everyone involved in the run-up and on the day, especially Tony Anderson from BVCP who had had the foresight to bring a boat so that there was a means of getting the raft from the shore to its tethering post! Once again, our gratitude goes to TAG for providing the majority of the money to fund this project. Thanks to them and many others we will now have the possibility of witnessing the spectacle of Common Terns nesting at Frimley Hatches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photos – Don Cload

…and who’s this with more birds on his mind ?


15th February 2014 – Bird Box Building

Even indoor events fell victim to the bad weather, as our regular session to get people involved in making homes for our feathered friends had a much smaller attendance than usual. And to add insult to injury there was no power – so no cups of tea for the workers! Undeterred, the Trustees and visitors made up 23 boxes between them. Amy here, after doing one herself, showed her Dad how to make one as well!

 

 

 


13th February 2014 – Winter Wildfowl Walk

Only a small number of hardy souls braved the elements and the prospect of flooded paths to turn up at Farnborough North Station to accompany Colin Wilson on his Winter Wildfowl Walk around the Frimley fishing lakes. But those that did were rewarded with some spectacular sightings of, among others, widgeon, pochard, herons, and shovellers, as well as these swans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photos – John Coupland


24 January 2014 – Grants Moor Hedge Planting – by Bernard Baverstock

These pictures show the sterling work being done by Trustees, Trust members and Tuesday volunteers, under the supervision of Partnership staff, as together they planted over 400 small trees, acquired from the Woodland Trust, to form a new hedge alongside the railway line and path that leads into Grants Moor from the Blackwater Retail Park.

A dire weather forecast did not dissuade the gallant crew, or they could not think of a good enough excuse not to turn up, and in the end they were rewarded as it turned out to be a dry day. The first task of digging out bramble and stinging nettle roots gave us a chance to thoroughly warm up, but an early tea break was then required to rest already aching backs. Laying out 400 trees, each with its own cane and protective tube, showed what a big task this was going to be, but fortunately with all participants mucking in we gradually progressed along the new hedge line. After a short lunch break we attacked the final stretch and were surprised how quickly we managed to finish the whole length.


photos – Bernard Baverstock