Coppicing in Spud Wood

Today we were helping in a woodland a stone’s throw away from Lymm, called Spud Wood.  As in the past, we were working with The Woodland Trust and the Friends of Spud Wood.

This is a relatively new mixed broadleaf woodland, planted in the late 1990s.  It was planted on a former potato field – hence the name, which was suggested by local school children in a naming competition, and is a reminder of its historic use for growing Golden Wonder crisps!

We were coppicing hazel trees and, with the branches, creating a picturesque barrier along the edge of the wood, which cut off the ditch behind but should also prove a perfect habit for wildlife!

A great day out.  The weather remained nice and dry apart from a short five-minute burst of rain.

Today we were back at Chorlton Water Park.  There was a good crowd of us so we were able to work on a couple of different things, but mainly some maintenance of the willow groynes at the edge of the lake which we have worked on several times over the years.  These groynes are important in preventing erosion of the lakeside and in providing a habitat for birds and for spawning fish.

We also cut encroaching saplings from among the reed beds and used some cut willow to strengthen and maintain the arch by the wildflower area.

This past weekend was our first residential weekend of the year, working as usual with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers and staying in their volunteer accommodation near Grindleford.  On both Saturday and Sunday we worked on reconstructing a set of steps on a steep footpath above Eyam – thirty-nine steps, pleasingly!

For our first outing of 2020 we were at Tegg’s Nose, working to clear some areas of gorse.  Gorse has a long flowering period, so is an important nectar source in early spring and early winter; plus its density makes it ideal for a range of nesting birds.  However, it can also take over and dominate a habitat, and the ongoing work to remove some here will better connect the Tegg’s Nose woodland and the higher heathland.

The weather stayed pretty dry (and even occasionally sunny), which was a welcome change from the heavy rain of the last day or two.  Ranger Martin introduced us to the iNaturalist and Seek apps, so we look forward to using those more.  And finally, it was great to have a good turn-out of volunteers – the best we’ve had in a while – so let’s hope that continues into the rest of the year!


For our last activity of 2019, we joined the Friends of Chorlton Meadows, this time to work in an area of grassland which (it is hoped) will return to being used for the grazing of cattle for part of each year from 2020.  Careful management and grazing at the right time of the year will help to maintain this important habitat. We continued work already started by the Friends to remove areas of bramble encroaching onto the grassland – and had fine weather until the very end of the day.

Return visit to Compstall

We returned today to Cheshire Wildlife Trust‘s Compstall Nature Reserve (where we were a fortnight ago).  We were continuing with the work to prevent trees colonising an open wetland habitat, doing more of the clearing and with a warming bonfire to follow.

Sunny day at Compstall

Today was our first visit to Compstall Nature Reserve, which is managed by Cheshire Wildlife Trust and is in the heart of Etherow Country Park.  This is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and we were working on a stretch of it not accessible to the public.  Our task was to remove encroaching saplings, mainly willow and alder, from an area intended to be maintained as an open wetland.  Although the ground was wet and soggy from all the recent rain, we were delighted to have bright sunshine all day – which showed off this diverse and lovely site at its best. 

We managed to get a lot done although there only five of us.  We are back here in a fortnight and more volunteers would be welcome!