Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Daisy Nook have varying events on through the year for both volunteers and the average Joe to come along and take part in. Sunday's event was coppicing - making pathways safe, felling trees, clearing shrubbery and making wildlife habitats out in the country park and alongside wildflower meadows.

The day started out very grim with huge dark threatening clouds in the sky and the wind blowing a gale, however by the time Paul and I got to the park the weather had calmed down massively.

After meeting the other people involved - several Duke of Edinburgh Award lads, few volunteers and 3 rangers, and receiving instruction from the chief ranger that day - Jane - we all picked up our tools and headed off into the glorious muddiness that resembled the park that day.

The DoE lads stayed in the wildflower meadow clearing there, while the vols carried on with Jane to a steep hillside which drastically needed clearing. Paul was the only male in our group with myself, Joanne, Derve and Hazel and we split into 2 groups - Paul, Derve and Joanne as one, myself and Hazel as the other. When Jane said that trees needed to be felled myself and Hazel leapt at the chance to do it.Bow saws in hand we were led to 3 Sycamore trees that were too leggy and causing a few problems. Learning the correct way to fell a tree was real interesting and before long we'd both felled a tree each before both taking down the third. Jane was mightily impressed that we'd managed it so easily. To be honest the thrill of felling something so big was exhilarating. Added to the fact that the logs were being used as dead hedges on the riverside and as critter homes elsewhere, it felt really good to be helping conservation. Pretty soon, the area had been dealt with leaving the path clear and safe (tis a very steep sided tree lined valley) and homes/hedges built.

After lunch at the centre we headed off to the second location of the day - Medlock Vale where loads needed to be done. In the seventies the council overcompensated for the lack of trees in the area etc and planted too many trees too close to each other so they grew to be pretty much poker straight 30ft tall logs with a sprout of greenery on the very tops. Not very attractive as trees really.

Again we split into our groups. Myself and Hazel attacking the sycamores, Paul and Derve attacking beech, Joanne clearing shrubbery and the DoE boys off elsewhere struggling with their trees. After being assaulted by all the brambles myself and Hazel got our trees down creating nice homes for hedgehogs and foxes and soon we'd moved on round to another area to free the path of overhanging trees and overgrown straggly brambles that were threatening to eat us up. This time there were no areas nearby where we could toss the logs, so after felling them we had to haul them up the hill and toss them into the valley we'd chosen as a good spot for the wildlife habitats. Several trees later and the coats were coming off as we'd worked up a sweat.

Pretty soon we were called to help the DoE boys as they couldn't fell a tree. Myself and Hazel stalked over bow saw in hand and attacked the bugger. Once it was down trying to cut it down into smaller sections was proving hard as it decided to bounce about. Shouting out for some assistance in holding it down proved fruitless. Looking around the DoE boys had buggered off leaving us girlies to carry on. Did they get miffed that girls could bring the tree down they were struggling with? I don't know. But I do know that it isn't part of the award to just admit defeat and leave. Oh well.

Way too soon it was time to head home as it was getting dark and the rain had begun to fall. I loved every minute of it. The best mental and physical exercise I've had in a very long time. My knee coped brilliantly. Best of all I didn't even ache the day after!

I might just become a volunteer ranger for the place.