Saturday saw us attacking the second piece of woodland I mentioned in the previous post. It’s a lovely bit of mixed beech, hazel ash and alder woodland on a steep-ish hillside not too far from the Original Outdoors offices. It’s also in need of some serious TLC as the brambles have taken over and you could swim across the bottom half of it!

After a bit of discussion we decided to tackle it from the top end, firstly clearing the grass-choked stream and cutting down some of the brambles and thistles that had taken over the edges of the wood. A bit of expert spade-wielding (I’ve won medals for my spade-wielding don’t you know…) and some contour-interpretation got the stream running again, which will help drain the waterlogged top half of the land. I always wonder about how much to ‘interfere’ with something as natural and self-governing as a stream, but in this case it had been a ‘managed’ woodland previously, and the current lack of drainage was having an adverse affect on the native broad-leaf species therein.

Lisa (my able and long-suffering assistant) donned the protective gear and set forth with the petrol brushcutter, clearing a path and trying not to mow down any of our six dogs which decided to ‘help’ by running around in big circles carrying sticks. Together we forged our way downhill into the woods, discovering some very nice patches of beech, some previously coppiced hazel and alder and a healthy crop of brambles (sensing a theme here?). By lunchtime we were wet, muddy and ravenous, quickly devouring some homemade chicken and vegetable soup delivered to us by Lisa’s mum. A small fire got the trangia kettle boiling away nicely, and my experiments into making a good cup of tea over a campfire continued.

After lunch I set about clearing another stream we had uncovered, which leads from a small pond near the bottom of the hill. This took a bit more effort, and I managed to clear it by apparently transferring all of the mud from the stream onto my body (at least in Ruthin Tescos they don’t look at you strangely when you arrive in wellies and covered in silt). This kind of work is enormously satisfying, and I defy any person of either sex and any age not to enjoy clearing a blocked stream…

Darkness overtook us and we trudged back up our newly-laid path back to the vehicles, complete with small pack of dogs. This could be quite a project, but I look forward to spending many nights out under a tarp here.

Y Rhinogau (now without the big bits)

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