Saturday, 12 November 2011

Felling on Ferny Brow

It's been a busy two weeks. We have been clearing trees off an area called Ferny Brow. This is a 'new' part of the gardens that we are opening up in March. The trees that are coming down have either self set, in the case of silver birch or in the case of the leylandii been planted.

The area is set on a very large bank, which made for interesting working conditions! Most of the trees were fairly small so presented no issues.

Some  of the trees though, are growing out of the rock face, so these will have to be tackled by contractors. We could drop them, but they would fall into the garden and cause more damage to the plants and bushes below. So it would be cheaper to get professional climbers in and take the trees out from the top.

We have a couple of corporate groups in next week from Barclays and Lloyds banks to help clear up.

When the upper garden is ready it should make a great addition to the property, with winding paths and great views.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Fungi Forays

This week, since Saturday, has seen lots of people coming along to attend Fungi Forays around the property. We still have two to go but so far have found a few woodland species, nothing exciting or out the ordinary but interesting for the kids that come along.

We have tried to provide the link between the fruiting bodies and what is going off underground. Also the effects on standing and dead trees.

Fungi being the great recyclers that they are, can be seen  turning a fallen silver birch into usable nutrients and a medium to be used by other plants in the woodland environment.

Seeing a fallen alder in the river covered in alder brackets is a good visual way of demonstrating how we have to act when we see fungi on trees. They are a good indication of what's happening inside the tree and we can use these in our inspections of trees, especially on roadsides or near buildings.

Hopefully some of the information will be carried away from the estate and may even spark a life long interest in the outdoors or even just fungi? That would be nice.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Barclays Build a Play Area.

Barclays Bank sent along 15 of its bank managers to carry out a task on the Estate. Building from scratch a playground in the upper garden.

The day was thankfully dry as the weather forecast had given a yellow warning for rain all day!

The addition to this day was a filming team who were commissioned to film the event for a forthcoming two day conference, where it will be shown in four parts over the two days.

I gave the team the brief and they set to digging holes like a bunch of rabbits! They very soon had balance beams upright and stepping logs in place.

The next challenge was to put in a chain balance and log jump. All of this was done in the day, with the team working very hard.

The new play area will be opened in March as part of the opening of the upper garden.

So we still have opportunity to include a few more items for the kids to play on.

Geocaching Taster Sessions

Sat & Sun saw drop in taster sessions for geocaching. Garmin had given us as part of sponsorship 4 GPS units that people could borrow. We hid 5 caches around the property for people to find.

Saturday was a lovely sunny day with lots of people on site.The GPS units were out all the time. People who had not used them before suddenly found they could use them easily with a little tuition.

Most people found the caches including a chap who had located over 2000 including some underwater as part of his scubadiving activities!

Lots of parents said it was a 'great way to get the children out walking without moaning'. At least two were going to buy GPS units on the back of this event. 

Saturday, 15 October 2011

ASE Path Laying

The weather had changed from wet, overcast, like walking about in a cloud kind of weather to dry and getting brighter. I was beginning to worry at the start of the week when all about was sodden.

Friday we had 88 employees of ASE from Manchester come blitz the Apprentice path and part of our path through the Southern woods.

The task was to move 42 Tonnes of stone along the path after first installing  the edging boards.

After an initial briefing the team set to in their respective teams and got cracking on their sections. By the Mid morning coffee break, which was had on the hoof, things were already beginning to take shape.

1pm, lunchtime we were able to take stock of what had been achieved thus far and get the roller out to start consolidating the path.

The guys and gals had worked really hard during the morning and it was becoming apparent that we were going to run out of stone at the crucial place so quickly set some on with wheel barrows to start moving it from other bags further up the path.

We also employed our tractor and trailer to move stone from further afield as well. The sloping fields certainly add to the excitement with a full load of stone in the trailer!

By 3pm a full hour ahead of time the task was almost complete. The full 42t had been taken to it's respective place and the path look resplendent in the sun which was now coming out.

A brilliant day, lots achieved and everyone had a good time. I think we will invite ASE to come back and do some of the more challenging areas of path resurfacing we have. I have a feeling they would eat it up!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Children's play space

On Friday we had a team of 25 from HSBC come to carry out work to create a new play space for kids at Quarry Bank. Tucked away at the top of the car park is a small triangular wood. They cleared this out of all undergrowth and thorns. Installed a fence around the site (to keep kids in) and put in a couple of bench seats.

The idea of the space is to allow kids to create dens and have a space in which they can use their imagination to play. It's not yet complete but will be very soon.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Hedge Laying Time

Getting ready today for hedge laying over the next two days. We have a day where the public can come and get involved, have a go with us. Then on Wednesday we have a Team from Barclay's Bank coming to assist.

It is the first time any of them will have done anything like this so will be an interesting learning curve on both sides!

After the lovely weather we have been enjoying it has forecast rain all day so looks like we'll be getting wet?

Friday, 23 September 2011

Woody Debris Project

The second year of work on the river Bollin took place this week. Tim the warden supported by contractors were busy felling trees and carefully placing in the river to create 'woody debris'.

This mimics nature to create areas where young fish including Salmon can take refuge from predators such as herons and other fish.

The work has been funded by the Environment Agency and is a three year project.

Accountants Bash Rhododendron

Hurst accountants came for a team building day and do some good in the countryside. Working in Arthur's wood they cleared a sizable area of the invasive rhododendron. 48 from the team came to work in the wood under the direction of John the warden.

Crunching plants certainly beats crunching numbers said one employee!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Very Special Tree 

What a beautiful tree this is. Standing on the edge of the garden. We have two roughly the same size but one goes straight up while the other spreads out.

Tree Inspections

A part of looking after a large estate and allowing public access is keeping people safe. To this end for 20 plus years the NT have had a systematic process of inspecting and recording trees on its property's. The area is zoned according to visitor use, very high to very low use. Trees within the very high are inspected annually while the very low, usually in remote fields get a glance when passing. All of this is recorded and defects in trees actioned where necessary. This can be a time consuming business and often a costly one.

Yesterday I discovered a walnut, lovely tree, planted to enhance the setting, with two very large crack running up the two boles (Trunk) of the tree. Nothing can now save this tree from the certain fate that awaits it as it sits within a very high usage zone. The good news is that we can probably cut the tree down and wait for the stump to generate new growth.

Out of this we can select one or two shoots to grow on to form 'new' trees.

This is an age old process our forefathers used but has now largely died out of use. That is coppicing. Using the biomass of the plants for an endless variety of uses. From fencing, firewood, tool handles, pegs, brooms, you name it, it could be made out of coppiced material.

So we shall see what happens? We have the Forestry advisor coming next week to carry out some training for volunteers so I shall take him for a look at this one and another couple of very large beech trees that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

High Winds

Following yesterdays high winds in the North West, I set off this morning with the dog who looked more than baffled but very happy to accompany me to see what devastation had been wrecked on the place. Very little in fact! One big beech tree fallen over on the side of the river Bollin. The most inaccessible place to get to with chainsaws. If it wasn't for the fact it had fallen on someone else's land we would just leave it. Today has been a lovely day, the sun has shone and the wind not been so bad. The dog looks very tired now, but content.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Corporate Volunteer Groups

Had lots of dealings today with different companies wanting to bring employees out to work in the community. Some do it as a 'team building' exercise others do it because as it's seen to be good to give something back to the community.

Some of the tasks I have been going through with them include; Woodland work, creation of a new area where we can run small events such a den building, hedge laying, footpath work. The team leader, the one tasked with running the day for the rest of the group Say's, 'yes that'll be great, that'll be fine'.  They don't know just how hard some of the work can be until they are on site. That's why we meet them, walk them through the task, talk through the risks and let them assess the site.

We have had some really good teams who have got stuck in and made a huge difference in one day. It's amazing what 30+ people can do! Have a look at the link on the blog.

We have a team of 100 coming in October to sort out some of the paths with us and create a new route for visitors.

All in all I find corporate groups to be really useful in achieving my objectives and introducing new people to the estate.Long may it continue.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Pond Issues

Had an enjoyable meeting today with a very knowledgeable volunteer looking at all this water. Specifically the mil pond. This has gone through various stages of development since the 18c and now about to go through another.

We find ourselves with a pond slowly silting up by the river depositing silt loads, especially in times of flood. The 1 in 100 year events seem to happen with ever increasing frequency nowadays leading to the pond becoming shallower and of less benefit to wildlife. It ceased to power the mill for full production a long time ago. The huge mill wheel is still turned by water power today but requires less of it than formerly. So we no longer have the need for a large storage area.

It was put forward to put in stop logs to effectively close off the inlet to the pond stopping inputs of silt from the river. There will still be issues with leaves in autumn but we will have to monitor this effect over time.

After this meeting we walked up to the reservoir by the car park, now frequented ducks, to look at similar issues here. This very square pond was dug to create a store of water above the mill to aid in fighting fires. A small bore pipe leads down to a hydrant in the mill yard where hoses would have been attached. Now all coroded and siezed. A discussion was had over installing a seperator to get rid of the hydrocarbons, entering into the pond. The car park surface water runs off into the pond. This keep it nicely topped up but we have to think how we deal with the nastys that run off with it!

The ducks were enjoying themselves at any rate.

Finished off the day showing round a new member of staff around and discussing how we can increase the corporate days we have at Styal and quality of visits. I think that'll be an ongoing task over the next few weeks. Has confirmation today of a company coming with 100 employees to carry out a task in October for us so looking forward to that one.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Bike Day

Manchester 100 came past the Estate today. There were  hundreds of bikes taking part, some of them looked like they had had enough when coming past the office. Only another 5 miles to go, 95 under the belt though, well done to all of them. Might look at that for next year? Have to get a bike first!

One of our volunteers comes in by bike, 56 mile round trip, not bad going and he's here at 9am!

It's been one of those days where trying to get certain things done and complete has been frustrated by a stream of irritations! How annoying is a printer that won't print? Despite abusive threats and pulling all the wires and cables out of the wall and reinserting them, still nothing. It's not the first time either. We seem to have a bit of kit here that revels in not obeying commands.
What it doesn't know, is that next door I have just unwrapped a shiny new all sing all dancing bit of kit that make our unruly printer obsolete. So when said shiny new thing is up and running, I'm going to take unruly printer out to the yard...and run it over with the tractor! 

Autumn is here now good and proper. The mornings have taken on that feel that you only get in Autumn. There are downsides however. If you can imagine how many leave you have to collect (or not) in your back garden, them multiply that by around 6 or 7 hundred you may have some idea of the scale we deal with. From Now till Christmas we will be sweeping, blowing, heaping, trailering, sucking and hiding lots of leaves. It's good fun though.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Harvest has started today, the combine rolled in after lunch to begin munching it's way though the fields of oats. Been working with Steve today, new volunteer. We created a new play item for the exciting new play area in the upper garden. Also worked through all the evets to happen in October. We wanted October to be 'Conservation in Action' month and to try to have something happening every day. 

This proved difficult so were having something happening for people to join in with at least twice a week. The rain held off too...Bonus!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Day in the Office :-(

Spent most of today in the office, sorting out various loose ends. Feels good they are now firmly tied up!

big team in today dealing with tasks all over the Estate. cutting, burning, chopping. There is the harvest about to start around the village. A bigger combine this year so two gates have had to be widened to get him through!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Back in the Saddle (A Wet Saddle!)

After a week off, back into Bank Holiday Weather! Started on the e-mails, lots, then just had to go a look at a bit of woodland I have not even set foot into since starting here last year. Only a small area at the side of the Bollin, but very steep sided. Mountain goat territory! Me and the dog scrambled up the slope and across to another ravine. The boundary is not straightforward and difficult to make out with all the balsam! Another priority area for next year.
Came across a really well built bridge, which had been there some time and someone had taken real efforts to put this thing in place? But there is no public access nor has ever been to my knowledge in this part of the Estate? Will have to do some more investigation on this one. At he top of this there was also what looked like a charcoal platform. A scratch around in the leaf litter indeed revealed a quantity of burned wood. So pleased with this find. So that will give me another task into finding out if charcoal was produced, when and for what use? Sounds like on the radio it has been a busy day on the car park and lots of folk on the Estate walking through in the rain. Difficult to belive that Autumn is now here!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Busy week with young offenders

Had a really good week with a group of young offenders. Working in the Southern woods to replace a tired old fence. This is at the bottom of 'Bluebell bank'. As the name suggests full of bluebells in Spring. We were losing parts of the bank to dogs racing up and down eroding the surface. These young lads worked really hard all week. By the end of it we we had a new fence up and some very satisfied young lads, who had never done anything like this before. Really good effort.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

BBQ's and Bats

I really don't like cleaning BBQ's. You can never get everything off! Spent the rest of the day smelling like a burger....nice. Everyone had a good time though, so that was good. The local bat population was out bang on time at 9pm, with aerobatics as they chased midges. Two of our Volunteers are off to Devon as one of them takes up a careership with the NT at Killerton. The very best to both of them. Two days off now, but have to be in for a meeting tomorrow at 10am. We have a team of prisoners working tomorrow, released on temporary licence. They are here all week and we plan to replace some worn out fencing in the Southern woods with them.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Have our BBQ tonight for the Estate team. Looks like we'll have to move the date as most of the volunteers are on holiday....bad planning that! been putting up the mini marquee and getting the gas BBQ to work. Weather looks fine though, overcast but dry. Been very busy today with lots of visitors. The Waybuloo seems to have brought in to the property lots of little ones? I don't watch kiddies telly, but it seems popular.

Looking forward to cremated burger and warm beer! 

Friday, 12 August 2011

Estate Walk

At 9:30 I took members of staff around the Estate on a familiarisation walk. Interesting how the walk through the woods change from week to week. Fungi now starting to make an appearance all over the place. Giant puffballs in grass fields and an excellent Dryads Saddle on an old ash tree at the bottom of Valley field. Finished the walk at 1pm. Had a further walk to look at a task next week, renewing fencing in the Southern woods along Bluebell Bank.

Then at 3pm met two chaps from a local company who want to bring 100 employees for a day's employee volunteering. Looking to get some pathwork done during the day in October. Upgrading some of the permissive paths as well as putting in a new circular route from the mill so that families with buggies or mobility powered vehicles access this part of the property. Good positive day with lots achieved.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Heavy Rain Again

Morning wetter than yesterday. Warm though. Have a few volunteers in today so will tidy up around the mill drive. Lots of leaves and small twigs need collecting. Need to get into a part of the woodland to check out what work needs doing for the next woodland grant scheme application. I know the wood is full of balsam so will get very wet doing that!

Still sorting out the workshops, getting tools onto racks on the walls so we're not tripping over them. First job though, go and swap some bins over at the mill. looks like a wet tractor ride down there. Looking forward to the day we get a tractor with a cab on it. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

It's Going to be wet!

Forecast is for heavy rain today. We have lots of small tasks to carry out today some thankfully inside. We also have to get ready for next week, we have a bunch of lads coming to do some fencing for us from a prison in Manchester. They are being released on temporary licence. Hopefully we should get the work complete at the end of the week?
 Going to one of our other property's today, Nether Alderley Mill. There is some work required so that a survey can be carried out later in the month. 
We also have arriving today on site, as part of the waybaloo tour, a pipling house. It's something to do with children's telly, so the kids should enjoy it?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

It's all Rubbish!

First task of the day, sorting the recycling. Glass, plastic, cardboard. Our volunteer who normally deals with this is on hols, so it's down to us. Just goes to show the value of volunteers in the workplace. What would we do with out them? A lot less that's for sure. Also have a volunteer in this morning mapping the extent of Himalayan Balsam we have taken out this year? We have a lot on site at present, around 4.9Ha but hoping this will decrease over the next few years with a concerted push on control.

Monday, 8 August 2011

First Post

New to this game! just finding my way round all of this blog stuff. Hope to bring out what we do on the Estate on a day to day basis. The Estate team are dedicated to delivering a great experience for visitors to the property.

Look out for news and views from the Estate from the front line