Dunston Common – Woodland thinning

Friday 13th January 2017

After the Christmas & New Year holiday some of our number seem to have suffered at the hands of ‘Jack Frost’.  Chris came off his bike on a patch of black ice which caused a few bruises and Sue came off her skis on a patch of white ice and did herself some mischief as well. I suppose it is winter and these things can be expected as was our treatment by the weather today.

We were on ‘Dunston Common’ thinning out some woodland when the white stuff started to fall out of the sky not long after we had arrived there. The problem with this was that it was ‘wet Snow’ which is the worst type of snow if you are outside. It looks all very picturesque to see the snow falling and settling on the fallen leaves but these snowflakes have a high, liquid water content so that very soon all the fallen branches we had collected were wet. It was like picking branches up out of a cold stream.  Very soon we all had wet gloves, cold hands and the snow falling onto our coats quickly turned to water; it’s just like very cold rain that is white.

Thinning of trees and coppicing of Hazel where some of the branches are used to create habitat piles and poles for hedgelaying.

A fire was quickly got going from the embers of the ‘Thursday Teams’ fire, which under the circumstances we would have struggled to light in the normal way. Soon we had a good blazing fire and we had plenty of branches to burn from yesterday which was quickly supplemented by Matt cutting down some more ‘Silver Birch’ trees (great trees for fires).  As the snow became heavier, Matt called for an ‘early’ tea break but none of us stopped for long as we were getting cold standing around drinking our (by now) lukewarm tea. Before midday one or two of the more sensible amongst us called it a day and a few of us worked on for a short time before admitting defeat by the weather.

Working in the lovely wet snow. Not enough for a snowman though.

What had been planned by Matt as a two day visit to ‘Dunston Common’ has now been extended by another day (hopefully a dry one) to finish our work on this popular site, until the next time.

Written by Alan Rae, Norwich Fringe Project Volunteer.