Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Toft Gate, Greenhow: 15-08-2017

After two wet Tuesdays on the run, James promised to be up early to test a new sun dance before our task this week. He's obviously got the knack as the day was mostly dry throughout with a good deal of sunshine. Hurray! Well done James!

The NCVs were working up near Toft Gate, Greenhow, with Peter Lambert, on another Nidderdale heritage footpath route. Word had it that while there were a few jobs involved, the main one was unavoidably muddy and wellies would be needed (preferably correctly fitting after Dave's experience last week!) So - what exactly went on? See for yourself.....

The NCVs skipped merrily down the footpath to the work site, 
 admiring the heather covered moorland in the distance.

Base camp was established at the bottom of the steep slope
 where there were plenty of dry rocks to sit on.

Everyone realised why wellies had been advised 
once they looked at the main job to be done - namely to shovel the 
mud out of a trench then fill it with rocks.

The spades were soon being deployed to 
advantage by 'The swampies'.

Melissa started the day squeaky clean 
but was filthy dirty in no time flat. (As usual!)

Some of those who were not shovelling started seeking 
out the rocks and pebbles that could be used to back fill.

It wasn't easy finding the smaller grade topping stones.
NCVs were swarming over the hillside like ants.

Alistair and James dug for victory in the muddy stream bed 
to find the much prized gravelly bits - 
or were they panning for gold?
Breaks were taken at base camp - but coffee time was 
interrupted by a call for all drivers to scale the hill 
all the way back up to the car park to move the 
cars out of the way of the cafe customers.

Melissa played air piano to keep the shovellers entertained.

 In an attempt to create a flatter path, some of the 
bigger rocks were bashed with lump hammers.

Rock was rescued and laid out ready for the 
AONB's walling volunteers to use to repair the wall.

Another group got busy dismantling an old style.

The deceased style was laid to one side....

... and the wall beneath tidied up.

That done, a brand new kissing gate was created.
Graham cut the timbers very carefully indeed 
- especially when everyone was watching.

Side piece done, it was time for the back section.

 Finally - the gate was put in place.

Was the top of the gate level? Yep - spot on!

By 2pm the path was signed off as completed...

...and everyone started trying it out.

The tools then had to be stored in the back of  Peter's truck....

...before the long struggle back to the cars 
was undertaken for the second time.
Ros E.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Guisecliff and Fishpond Woods: 08-08-2017

Pateley Pigeon Post

NCVs’ battle against the 

Bertie Brackenfrond gang continues.


This week 14 NCVs went in search of some ancient cup and ring marked stones at Guisecliff and the old ice house at Fishpond Woods near Bewerley. These two important historical features had disappeared completely. 

Why? Remember their old arch enemy Bertie Brackenfrond? (New readers can catch up by referring to the blog entry for 28th June 2016) Well - he and his mates are back in force at the moment, completely obliterating everything they have grown up around. The NCVs needed to get out with their sticks and whack ol' Bertie and his gang into submission.

So - that's just what they did - first up at Guisecliff .....

They had to walk nearly 1.5 miles to get there - uphill.

En route a particularly 'spooked' herd of cattle needed circumventing.
The bull leading the charges wouldn't have looked out of place in a Spanish bullring.
The NCVs prayed that there would be no power cut in the electric fence containing them!

On seeing the scale of the job ahead Graham 
decided to start the task with a cup of coffee.

Then the the search for the lost rocks began.

Sticks were wielded right, left and centre.

Tom proudly displayed a rock that he worked hard to reveal -
only to learn that it wasn't one of the carved ones!

This one looked promising - 
but turned out to be a red herring.

More bashing of the Brackenfrond hoards was needed.

Tony decided to sit and row his way through.

 At last some carved rocks were discovered.

Three in all - these two are more photogenic than the third.

Tony tried an alternative method of crushing Bertie.
The 'Fall forward' technique.
Click on this dropbox link if the video above doesn't work for you.

The final bracken bashing frenzy was horrific to watch. 
Bertie and his oppos didn't stand a chance when 
a number of NCVs moved in for the kill.

Amongst the broken stems of the battlefield 
Will and Andy found time to play "I'm a little teapot".
However - both forgot the all important spouts.

Personal, harrowing stories abounded during the morning.

  • Dave arrived without his boots so borrowed a pair one size too small from the workshop. He ended up with blisters having been chased out of a field by yet another herd of frisky bullocks when catching up with the group. In spite of this he made it to the task site and worked hard to eradicate the bracken.

  • Ros E. discovered she'd lost her mobile phone when she came off the hillside. Having toiled all the way back up to the scene of carnage above she rang her device on another NCV's phone - only to find it was in her back pocket all the time. Doh!
Once finished at Guisecliff the NCVs moved into Fishpond Wood, lower down the hillside to continue the assault. Noon had arrived and so had the heavy rain. Lunch was taken under the 'shelter' of the trees by the pond. A tin of Audrey's flapjack raised their spirits.
8 green bottles sitting on a wall.

Then it was back to the grindstone.

Now - where's that ice house?
There was one here - somewhere.

Ah - there it is!

This particular battle was won fairly quickly. 
Just as well as the rain became most insistent.

Might this now be the end of the Brackenfrond gang? Who knows? Probably not - but you can be sure that, if they dare to return, the NCVs will be ready and waiting, sticks at the ready!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Routine work at Hackfall Wood: 01-08-2017

Summer's marching on. July has ended and the first of August saw 11 NCVs make their regular monthly visit to Hackfall to undertake various landscape and access maintenance tasks around the beautiful gorge woodland. Unfortunately the weather was so very wet that work was abandoned at lunchtime. In spite of this they achieved a good deal during the morning. The pictures below give you an idea of what they got up to.....

 Fallen tree across the path?
No problem - Alastair, James, Tom and Sally will soon sort you out!

Logs were stashed and brash was piled 
for the invertebrates (and other creatures) to inhabit.

There we are - that's better!

 According to Tony, who worked with Jan to repair 2 dog gates.....

"The vertical posts were splayed which allowed the sliding gate to escape from it’s runners. With intelligence borne of desperation we redesigned the first gate by cutting off one third and re-attaching it to the now horizontal remaining piece using the bent and rusty nails. It was a masterpiece of the cabinet makers art. Any dogs trying to squiggle under have to be rat sized, larger dogs trying to get over run the risk of strangulation."

The result: The gates slide up and down 
to accommodate dogs who wait to be let in, 
just as the designer intended. 

A team of six set off to do battle with some bracken 
and any Himalayan balsam they happened to come across-
which of course they did!!

They found this rather splendid fungus. 
So - here's the competition question for August - can you identify the species?
If you know then feel free to post up your answer in the comments box below.

And finally....

This week there's a little treat for you all. It turns out that the NCVs have a talented song writer (and singer) in their midst. Apparently The Harrogate Songwriters Group set a challenge of writing a song about the environment, so Tom decided to have a go at a format that would be simple enough for even Donald Trump to understand!! It certainly gets across a very clear message. Have a listen and enjoy via the link below. (If you are asked to log in then just click on the 'no thanks' option. You may need to download the file to your computer then open it up.)

Ros E.