This year has been carried forward without much funding and has been accomplished largely with the members own equipment. We purchased a scythe and did use it in the autumn to cut nettles and Wayside vegetation and used it this summer to keep down the verges some 1m each side of the path. If any one wishes to have a copy of the management plan then just let me know.
One of our footpaths officers has taken on the co-ordinating role Beth Rutterford and has helped us a number of times over the last 12 months – thank you for this.
It is still early days and this autumn (now we have received our start up funding) should see the purchase of equipment and reflective waistcoats. We are now also insured following receipt of funding from the County Council – this was a pre-condition of the group carrying out activities on the Way.
Activity – over the last 12 months
We cleared tonnes of Elder on the ‘no-mans’ land at the eastern end of the Way and planted over 120 trees and shrubs in their place. The Elder was shredded by the County Council and this was spread as mulch around the plantings or along the various walkways. A few shrubs were coppiced too.
We laid a couple of sections of hedge but did not have funding to purchase stakes and binders so will rectify this next season.
We have severed ivy on trees and shrubs adjacent to footpaths and the way – these make the trees weighty and more prone to being blown over. We do not want to cut all ivy down as this is a valuable habitat and source of nectar.
Fencing at Bill Sands wood has been tidied up and some limited planting along the old hedgerow carried out. I am still in discussions with Persimmon Homes who actually own this piece of land and I guess have not been near it since they put the fencing up following construction of the houses in Lansdowne Close off the Bloxham Road.
Some limited coppicing and laying took place on the south side of the balancing pool at the western end of Waller Drive as well as some tidying up and crown reduction on the trees adjacent to the small paddock by the pool.
A good number of wild flowers have been planted out too, celandine, cowslips, Hedgerow Garlic, forget me knots and snow drops – these are in relatively small numbers.
Cutting of the verges adjacent to the path has started and we have cut all of it once except for a section at the far western end of the Way.
We have also made safe a number of collapsed trees across the way saving the County Council the cost of undertaking this work.
Lewis has been helping out as part of his Community Service for his Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme supervised by his grandmother Janet and he has shown himself to be a very willing worker. Unfortunately Janet (One of our volunteers) has had a fall recently and is in the JR recovering so our thoughts and best wishes go out to her.
Whilst scything a couple of passersby commented that back in the Sixty’s someone was employed to cut back the verge side vegetation with a scythe!
I have been in contact with the planning authorities to see if we can influence their forward planning if anyone wants to see my letter to them or get involved with this side of matters let me know. It would also be good to see if we can get access to some of the section 106 funding.
Thank you to our sponsors, we have received funding from Banbury Town Council, Bodicote Parish Council, County Highways (Insurance), Oxfordshire County Council our Councillor Arash Atemain’s personal fund, and have received offers of funding from Cherwell Community Infrastructure Capital Grant Fund and an offer of trees and shrubs from the Woodland Trust. A funding application for the Toe (Landfill Trust) is still pending.
I am still chasing individual developers to see if we can get support.
We need to raise our profile to get new members and to source funds and share the work load.
We need a licence to do work around the Waller Drive pool from English Nature. I have made contact with the Cherwell Ecologist and hope to get her endorsement.
I have put together a management plan for Bill Sand’s Wood and hope to get Persimmon’s approval.
Bishop Loveday has agreed to grow some wildflowers on for plug planting out next spring and to collect some acorns from the large oak on the eastern end of the Way.
Approaches to be made to the other schools along the way – they may have been doing some litter picking as the annual initiative showed we were well down on the amount of litter being picked and in particular the number of dog pooh bags – is this as a result of the way now having the look of somewhere that is being managed?
I am booked in on a Scythe training day and will transfer this knowledge to other members of the group after the course.
The Facebook page has not been working very well as it has been impossible to post information on it at times which has been very frustrating.
We have done a lot of work with little funding which has limited what we could achieve, but we have done really well and carried out some significant improvements and maintenance.
We have shown ourselves to be a group who can achieve a great deal with very little and take great pleasure from doing this work.
Our numbers are slowly increasing.