Strawberry Field, near Eaton is a new location for our Volunteers and during November we made three visits to this site off Bluebell Road in Eaton all led by Paula. The field was once used for growing strawberries but has been fallow for many years. There is a well-used footpath along the field edge between Bluebell Road and the River Yare and in the summer the field is used for launching hot air balloons. The site is now part of the Yare Valley Walk and Public Access has been agreed under Planning Approval for the adjacent Bartram family land (Bartram Mowers). Recently, contractors working on behalf of the City Council surfaced a section of the riverside path to make this accessible throughout the year. In addition, the path at the other side of the field, which runs alongside the donkey sanctuary, has been re-surfaced from the riverside boardwalk to Bluebell Road to provide better access. Our work at Strawberry Fields has repaired riverbank damage, installed signs and planted trees around the new entrances and elsewhere on site. Matt in his emails about our workdays always refers to “Strawberry Fields (Forever)” – can’t think where he got that from!
On our first visit on a very wet 7th November we used the faggots made at Whitlingham (See blog Fenland, Woodland and Commons) to repair erosion damage along the riverbank caused by dogs clambering out of the river. In some places the riverbank erosion was very close to the path edge, so we laid the faggots in these sections and secured them with hazel stakes (also from Whitlingham). The faggots will gradually silt up and grass and other vegetation will grow to form a new stable bank. The open weave of the faggots provides a place for small river creatures to hide from predators. Our more creative volunteers demonstrated their artistic side by weaving willow between the hazel supports for the faggots which will strengthen the repairs.
We returned again, in the rain, on 14th November to install a new finger post to help guide walkers around the paths. We chose an ideal spot for the post within the triangle of the new extended boardwalk but found an old concrete slab and various metal fixings buried underneath so had to abandon that plan. But we found a good alternative spot next to the boardwalk where we could dig our hole in soft ground. All we had to do was to put it the right way up and ensure that the fingers were all pointing in the right directions – job done, of course! We also planted many young trees to thicken-up the hedgerow at the top of the field along Bluebell Road and surrounded these with bark chippings. By the time we had done this most of us were wet through (again), so we finished at lunchtime.
We were back again on 28th November to install the new interpretation board for the site and other way-markers. Guess what – it was raining steadily! The interpretation board includes a map of the site and was placed next to the new kissing gate by the entrance on Bluebell Road. We also installed way-marker posts to guide users around the site.
One of the features of the newly surfaced riverside path is a sloping area where dogs can enter the water without damaging the riverbank and disturbing the wildlife and an information sign abut this was installed next to the slope. We also planted trees around the new entrance kissing gate and surrounded them with bark chippings to stop the weeds and other stuff growing through. We had finished our scheduled tasks, so it was another early finish and an opportunity to go home and dry out!