Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Tractor Time

Now, I have driven tractors before but never on proper roads, and today, I got the chance too. It was certainly different. I now completely understand how farmers feel now when they have to drive along A roads. I was quite nervous when I set off. It sounds stupid but I really hate holding people up so as you can guess, when in a tractor, its inevitable that you end up going a lot slower than everyone else on the roads.

We had our Wednesday volunteers out today so it was a really busy day. We were working in Cheddar Gorge today, cutting bramble and small samplings to improve the limestone grassland.

A great walk up through the Gorge
Half of the Gorge is owned by Longleat. They have been doing their annual Rock inspections the past few weeks which has meant that some of the rock has been removed from the sides of the Gorge - perfect for going into Drystone Walls :D Hence why I was driving around in the tractor today. The rocks that we claimed, then went up to the top of Crook Peak.
Over 15 years, volunteers have been renovating a drystone wall that climbs up towards the top of the peak. There is still a small stretch to complete so we hope to get up there in the new year. 

Monday, 5 December 2011

Top Ranger Kit: their brew kit and lunch.

Wow, what a week and a bit. Apologies for the lack of posts the last week or two. I have been meaning to get on here for a while but work has been soo busy; my brain turns to mush by the end of the day and I find it difficult to even decide what I am going to have for tea!
We have had a lot of volunteer groups out recently. Two of which came out with us yesterday to Collard Hill. 
Butterfly conservation and the Somerset National Trust Volunteers came out to the hill to have a huge scrub bash - there was about twenty of us at one point!

Information about Butterfly Conservation and the Large Blue 
Information about the National trust Somerset Volunteers

It was a brilliant day, I love meeting new people so this kind of day is right up my street. I even got to try out the kelly kettle for the first time with a volunteer group. (A Kelly Kettle is a sort of chamber of water that sits around a fire that goes up through the center of the chamber - take a look at the picture.)
This might explain it a bit more...
I caused a lot of smoke and not much flames the first time and ended up knocking the kettle over - yep, water did go everywhere. The second time was a bit more successful only I managed to smoke the volunteers out of where they were working. (It was time to stop for a brew anyway!!!) I worked out that with the kettle, you can make five good big brews of steaming hot tea - not quite enough for twenty people so I had it going for quite a while.

Collard Hill is quite  very steep and my job yesterday was to drag the dumpy bags full of bramble from the top of the hill down to the bottom. Now, as rangers go, I would say I am the smaller type of ranger so in the end I think the dumpy bags were dragging me down the hill. 

As for tomorrow, We have got Osprey out who are a great community group that come out with us once a month on a Tuesday. We are at Sand point tomorrow doing some scrub cutting with another toasty fire.
Watch this space for more ranger adventures...I must start remembering to take pictures when I am out in the countryside working

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Contemplation of the week just gone and the week ahead.

What a lovely weekend to be out and about in the Fresh Air. Took myself for a little bike ride this afternoon along the cycle track to Axbridge. I did have to look twice when I was riding as it runs alongside a football pitch then behind that is the reservoir. Whilst the guys were busy with a game of football, it looked like there were sailing boats on the pitch too. I stopped myself mid thought and realised that this is Somerset I have moved too and its flat... very flat. Meaning a) boats can't float on land and b) they were therefore floating on the 'Cheddar Pond' as they call it round here. 

The Friday just gone I was on the Polden Hills working with a chap from the Somerset Wildlife Trust and another chap from the Clarks Trust/ Millfield School. We were clearing a small area of scrub and doing a spot of hedge laying - this turned into tree felling and coppicing as some of the hazel was to big. I cant remember at all what the site was called but its very close to Walton and Collard Hill. The site is great for the white letter hairstreak butterfly and hopefully very soon; the Large Blue Butterfly. I had a great day as it gave me chance to use the chainsaw. I am not too keen to use it when we have loads of volunteers about as it isn't exactly a 'social, nice, quiet day in the countryside' when using it. However, we didn't have any vols out with us so I got plenty of practise learning different techniques and learnt loads from it. 

I think next week will be pretty full on again. Monday I am going to be doing the prep work for the hedgelaying that we will be doing on Wednesday, (cutting hazel stakes for the hedge.) If things go to plan, (sometimes as a ranger, things quite often don't go to plan may I just add) myself and George will be going to Glastonbury Tor to finish off the kissing gate in one of the Orchards - improving access for the public who walk around the Tor.

Tuesday I have got a really exciting day as we have the first of hopefully many days with the Autistic Society. We will be going to the top of the Cheddar Gorge to do some much need scrub cutting. Doing this will improve the quality of the Limestone Grassland - unfortunately  a declining habitat due to changing farming practises and ever encroaching scrub. 

Anyway, that's enough from me, I am sure you have had enough of reading about my adventures for the day. Lets hope the weather stays nice so we can complete the work at the Tor tomorrow.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Waves of Wireless
I have internet in my house so I can finally start this blog I have been on about for ages. I am not too sure why I am writing a blog. I would like to think that I am trying to be intelligent but I guess the main reason is that the nights are drawing in and I don't have much to do of an evening.
Moving to Cheddar has been quite a journey. Starting over is quite tricky, especially when you don't know anyone. I am getting there - The volunteers  I work with have been brilliant; I went to my first dinner party the other night which was lovely! 
The things that I write in this blog I warn you may be all over the place. I write what I am thinking that second so we shall see how we get on.

Anyway, I suppose I had better talk about what I have been doing at work today - the blog is called 'Adventures of a Ranger' after-all.
We normally have loads of volunteers on a Wednesday but we were really short of guys today. George and Chris, our two full time volunteers along with Bob, our Wednesday volunteer were out with me on Walton Hill.
Walton Hill is part of the Polden Hills. Its a lovely spot with great views over to Cheddar Gorge, Glastonbury Tor and Crook Peak. 

One of the many jobs of a ranger is to improve access to the Countryside, allowing everyone to enjoy the great outdoors. With this in mind, we were installing steps through a small area of woodland. To date, there are 110 steps that have been put in over the past few years. I think there is now only 10 more to do then the steps will be complete! 

Tomorrow I will be going around with Rob to learn more about the Mendip and Polden Hills. I think we will be concentrating on the Cheddar Gorge and Crook Peak tomorrow. 
Warning: I may be a little brain washed tomorrow evening, I think there is a lot to learn.

Well, That's my first real post and I am about to publish it - I feel a little nervous!

Where better to eat your lunch than in a tractor wheel. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Day one of my very first blog!

Hi everyone, Hayley here! Evenings are closing in and getting dark. Less and less on tv so I have decided to write a blog. You may wonder what about. I am a a newly qualified ranger working for the national trust. I started working in Somerset 4 weeks ago now, looking after the mendip and polden hills. This is the start of my new ranger adventure and I am going to starting writing about my daily tales in Somerset.