Whitlingham Marsh and Train Wood – Maintaining Riverside Paths

Thursday 15th & Friday 16th June 2017

Our grass cutting work to keep paths open continues over two very hot days.

Our return visit to Whitlingham Marsh on Thursday 15th June after only three weeks found that the grass along the paths following the river and around the benches had grown considerably and needed cutting again. The recent spells of rainy and warm days had obviously provided just the right growing conditions for the grass and nettles which were already encroaching on the paths. Whitlingham Marsh is fairly busy with dog walkers and runners this time of year so it is good to keep the paths as open as possible for all users.

Most of the paths had been cut by lunchtime and we happily sat down for a well earned rest, a cuppa, a chat with Tessa (our new volunteer for the day) and a piece of delicious birthday cake. ^^’ 😎 😛

Keith took control of the DR mower and cut the path edges with Robert as banksman and trimming any overhanging branches as he went along. Paula drove the rest of us to the further end of the site dropping off Michelle by the benches to brush-cut around these and the hide. At the far end of the site we cut around the kissing and field gates and the sides of the paths leading up to the bridge over the River Yare. It is a lot cooler under the A47 flyover but the constant noise of traffic going over the expansion joints makes it a bit noisy. We also cleared the path on the other side of the site leading to the boardwalk and observation platform which was barely passable because of very tall nettles and other vegetation. However, when we got through to the end we noticed a lady painting on the platform who had clearly found a route through – her return journey was a lot easier! During further cutting around the entrance gate and the cattle corral we came across a lone bee orchid near the corral. We searched the area for more orchids but none were found.

Our Dexter cows came to say hello to us, before we chased them back through the gates and back onto the marsh. The Mullein’s were flowering, bees were enjoying the nectar of the Elderflowers, a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae) rested on a Marsh thistle and a Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) was found to top our day. 🙂

We were joined today by Tessa who had come along to find out more about us. It was a good day to join us since it was Liz’s birthday and she had made brownies and very tasty cheese flapjacks. We sang Happy Birthday to Liz at tea break.

On Friday 16th June, we were at Train Wood to cut back the paths alongside the River Wensum in Norwich. Train Wood is the site of the old City Station and is the area behind Halfords near Barn Road roundabout. This is the start of the Marriott’s Way but there is also a path through the woods which runs by the river. The Friends of Train Wood regularly do a litter pick around the site and do other maintenance work but tasks such as grass and tree management are largely undertaken by the Fringe Project. Stephen cut the path edges with the DR mower while Keith and I brush-cut around the fishing platforms and benches and the bits the mower couldn’t deal with. Robert trimmed overhanging branches while Matt and Ben dealt with some fallen trees.

Cutting back the vegetation at Train Wood with Steve & Matt using the mower, while Chris and Keith used the brushcutters around the benches and fishing platforms. 😀

At tea break Matt and I went up to Ketts Heights to clear a willow tree that had fallen on the grassy area at the top of the site. On the way up the path Matt spotted a pair of Mistle thrushes on a woodpile – a rare sighting. The fallen trunk was cut into manageable pieces and moved off the grass area. Ketts Heights is looked after by a Friends Group and Matt, in his new role managing Norwich City Council’s Natural Areas, has been working with them to tidy up this historic site and manage it for the wildlife.

The happy couple with Sue, Rob and Andrew. Spot the 2 caterpillar cakes and a carrot and orange cake too. 😉 😀

Footnote: One of the testimonials on our Home Page is from Emma who, along with her mother Sue,  started volunteering with the Fringe Project many years ago while at school and often returned during breaks from Uni. Emma’s parents Sue and Rob are regular volunteers with our Thursday group and most of us know Emma and her brother Andrew from their work with us. On Saturday Emma married Chris (a different Chris, and much, much younger than any of the many Chris’s mentioned in our blogs!) and several of us and our partners attended the evening reception in the Wensum Valley. It was a lovely warm evening in a glorious setting. We thank Sue and Rob for inviting us and wish Emma and Chris a long and happy marriage.