The 2nd December dawned clear and frosty so our intrepid group were well wrapped up. Our mission of the day was path clearing from the accumulated storm damage over the autumn. As we headed across the footbridge, I called out to the team to watch out as the bridge is always very slippery in a frost. Seconds later I resembled Tintin’s detective friends, Thomson and Thompson, flying through the air, legs awhirl!!! Thankfully no harm done as I was well padded, but sadly the good ship SS Thermos had been launched and was rapidly bobbing away downstream. If anyone out there below Stara on the Lynher finds her, perhaps you could let me know if the tea was still warm?

Those of you who have crossed the bridge since its reopening will have found your way blocked by another spectacular oak tree that came down sometime in the Autumn. Its always sad to see, but trees that grow on riverbanks are vulnerable to the water under cutting the roots and that is what had happened here. Global warming? Well yes, it certainly contributes as we are getting more rain, so more river floods and stronger winds, but on the other hand trees growing upwards are very complicated balancing acts and sometimes when the equilibrium is impacted, they just fall over!

Anyhow we resembled a swarm of bees as we got busy clearing the timber that was trapping a lot of younger trees where the oak had fallen. Thankfully, while quite brutalised, the younger trees will mostly come again, so long as their roots are intact. There is now a large area of light created by the fall and there will be a spurt of new growth this spring as each youngster tries to claim its share of that space.

A couple of our group also headed off to continue the work of clearing the self-seeded evergreen trees that are still present in Broadwood, some 20 years after the bank was totally cleared. These youngsters are particularly good at growing fast and straight into any light available, so to give the native species we are encouraging a helping hand, we clear the firs whenever we see them. Some are the same species as Christmas trees, but as they race for the light they get very leggy and the distance between branches is much

more than any farmed Christmas tree might be – so sadly the felled are not really suited to domesticity. But as they lie in state, they create a dwelling place for all sorts of bugs and beasties. Dead wood is an integral part of woodland lifecycles, whether standing or fallen.

To end the year on a positive note I was thinking about the 3,000+ young salmon that were released into the Lynher in September. The guys who are running this amazing rewilding project only catch around 8 hen fish and 8 cocks each year. Yet between them this intrepid extended family and their mentors produce 3-4 thousand healthy young to repopulate our river. This abundance is Natures way of ensuring that at least some of the young survive predation and other threats, but by protecting them through their first winter when so many would die in the wild, it is possible to accelerate the re-growth of numbers much faster than just leaving nature alone. While not wishing to sound like a very inferior David Attenborough, there is some very strong logic here, and a source of hope for everyone trying to protect and re-instate our natural world – lets keep plugging away in 2024.

We’re always looking for help if any of you out there need a New Year’s Resolution. See you soon.