East Hill Woods – Bramble Clearing

Friday 25th November 2016

The ‘Friends of the Tud Valley’ (FOTV), is a voluntary organisation set up to try and protect the local environment (as is the case with a host of other ‘Friends of —–‘). The River Tud flows roughly west to east rising just south of East Dereham and flows for approximately 14 miles before joining the River Wensum close to Hellesdon Mill. Along its way, it passes Costessey where FOTV are based, whose slogan is ‘Protecting the River Tud in Norfolk and the surrounding areas’. Part of these ‘surrounding areas’ is an ancient woodland known locally as East Hill Woods which was our destination today.

The site is owned and managed by South Norfolk District Council and they organised a joint working party with NFP and FOTV for a bramble clearing day in this 9-hectare site. The wood is well known for a wonderful display of bluebells in the spring but brambles have been encroaching over the site to the detriment of the bluebells, so an attempt to clear some of the brambles was undertaken. The primary aim of this work being to re-expose the beautiful bluebell glades that are being endangered by encroaching brambles.

The gang gearing up and ready to tackle some stubborn brambles.

The best way of clearing brambles is with a brush cutter (which are operated only by trained NFP volunteers fitted with a special blade (we call it a mulching blade) which chops the branches into a mulch which aides decomposition amongst the leaf litter. The wood sits on the valley side which in places slopes quite steeply and it is in these places that we were working. Some of the slopes were too steep for safe working so those areas will be left for the wild life to feed and hide in.

Two days of work was carried out but this was not enough to clear all the affected parts, (despite the fact that there were several willing volunteers from both FOTV & NFP) so more work will have to be done here in the future to make more space for the bluebells.

Written by Alan Rae, Norwich Fringe Project Volunteer