Whitlingham Marsh – Cutting Grass Paths

Thursday 11th May 2017

Whitlingham Marsh at the end of Whitlingham Lane is one of our sites which we visit several times throughout the year. Last Thursday was the start of the grass cutting season here where we cut back vegetation along path edges and around gates to provide clear access. We should have had our large DR rotary mower to help with this but it hadn’t returned from its winter service so we did as much as we could with our brushcutters.

We also had some kissing gate repairs to do to replace a post. We seem to be repairing/building a lot of kissing gates recently and more of this work is scheduled over coming weeks at various sites. There are many kissing gates across our sites and they get a lot of wear and tear over the years. Most are quite straight forward to fix but there are always those that present a challenge. However, today’s task was not too difficult and Chris the fireman and student Will got it sorted out.

Fireman Chris and Will working on the damaged gate while Paula and Michelle started clearing the banks while avoiding cutting the Mullein sp. plants that can be found on this site.

Using the brushcutters we cleared the banks around the entrance gate taking care not to damage the mullein which grows well here. Keeping the entrance area tidy is a regular task during the summer since first impressions are important in attracting visitors to the area.

Along the river bank there are a couple of benches overlooking the river where we clear the encroaching nettles and other vegetation to maintain access. However, on our first visit each year we have to find the benches before we can clear around these. The vegetation always seems to grow fast at this time of year covering the benches and the routes through to these. Once found a path is cut up to the river bank and we ensure there is a clear area around each bench and that the river bank edge is visible. One of the benches seems closer to the bank edge than last year and will have to be moved back a few feet sometime soon.

It was a warm day so the chocolate covered Tunnocks teacakes had to be consumed quickly at break before they melted. Chrissie had made a batch of her tasty flapjacks to help keep up our energy levels.

Chris clearing the vegetation away from a kissing gate, some benches and a hide. While Chrissie and Keith affixed some signs to the gates which informed the public about the grazing cattle. Rob was also seen for a glimpse walking through the vegetation trying to clear the pathway ahead by hand!

We hiked over to the far end of the site to clear the path which runs up to the flyover carrying the A47 over the River Yare. This section is, in any case, difficult to cut with the mower so the brushcutters are the best machines for the task. We cleared around the hide overlooking the marsh so that visitors can use this. We also affixed notices to several gates providing advice to walkers about grazing cattle on the site.

Whitlingham Marsh is grazed by a herd of Dexter cattle which are a small Irish breed. They disappear into the reed which stands above them but occasionally come to see what we are doing. The dykes here act as wet fences to contain the cattle with fences and gates to help control which areas they graze. The Dexters have only grazed the marsh for a few summers but have done a great job in managing the vegetation in a difficult to access area.

We will return to Whitlingham next week and hopefully have the DR mower so we can attack the growing vegetation along the paths and keep these open throughout the summer.

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