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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

a supertask in the mire then 3 people in 3 welcoming homes

Every so often Coasties and the other voluntary groups get together in a 'Supertask', yesterday was one of these. The National Park, and Natural England had organised us to clear a mire, this is a swampy area with many rare species, as opposed to a bog, we are told, which only has a few. Anyway this mire, (which is an SSSI), in a valley below Newton Rawcliffe and adjacent to the North York Moors Railway,, has become overwhelmed with willow, which is not only sucking the wet out but shading out the rarer plant species, so away with it! As usual saws and loppers are the tools of choice, this is not the hard bit, because the only way to dispose of the willow is to burn it, too far and too expensive to remove from the site. And, the only area that can be used for a fire is uphill from the mire, so dragging the cut willow is hard, back breaking work. Over lunch we discuss walking, holidays and absent colleagues, gossip I suppose, oh dear!

The fire burns slowly to start with, the willow is fresh and the sap already rising, but a gusty wind soon gets it going and eventually all the willow, along with some gorse and the ubiquitous blackthorn is well away.

We chat to the Natural England person about the possibility of getting some grazing going to keep the scrub down, that would be the best, but finding a grazier prepared to do the necessary fencing is unlikely and neither Natural England nor the privatised utility company which owns the land can afford to, well the utility company can probably afford to, but wouldn't want to dent their profits. 

Finally the task is done, we climb a very long steep hill back to the mini bus and home to (for me) a hot shower. How soon before we are back to clear the willow again we wonder, these tasks are fun, but there are times when the job seems a bit like a labour of Hercules. Some volunteers are coming less often, but no new ones can be recruited to take their place unless they actually leave the group. Something else we discuss, but there seems no good answer.
the mire being cleared

the cleared mire

yet another fire

Readers must think we must be a bunch of pyromaniacs, but unless there is a good track and the brash is worth transporting away to burn in a stove, there is usually no alternative, there is a
limit to making habitat heaps!

Today is Short Stop, a couple of men I have placed before and then a young woman, unusual, but sometimes easier to place as we have several hosts who are single women themselves and have agreed to just take a single woman. Unlike the men she speaks very little English, but luckily there is someone to take her to the kind host. Mostly they need to take a bus; as I have posted before I struggle at times with the buses in Leeds and other places that are not familiar to me, how do they manage? One host is concerned that the guest will not be able to use their living room in the evening, as they have a crowded meeting there, I assure them that the guest will be happy in their bedroom, after their previous night in a night shelter I imagine the peace and privacy will be most welcome. Short Stop organised by Lassn and referrals from As I am typing this two hosts respond to the voicemails I left and say that are free if necessary, how lovely people are.

Two very different days, the sun has shone both days and spring is almost on the way, all is not well with the world, but I hope a little better than it might have been for 3 lonely  people tonight.

I have also rearranged my holidays, sadly not the middle east as we had hoped, maybe another year or two or three.............