A couple of watery tales for you this month!

Piers’ Working Party ReportIt’s quite telling when you knock stakes into the bank of the river. Usually in Stara Woods it takes a lot of effort to get a post past hidden rocks and roots, but on the riverbank there is little to no resistance – a couple of ‘tonks’ and the stake is firmly in the ground. This lack of resistance is worthy of note as it directly relates to the need for the brash hedges, as we re-discovered during June’s Working Bee. The brash hedge along the east bank of the Lynher has proved very effective at protecting the riverbank from too many feet, so we decided to put up something a little more permanent to continue the improvement. Thanks to the gardeners and volunteers at Cothele and Golitha, we copied a design that concentrates the brash between regular posts that zig zag along. The new hedge lays a foundation for future branch deposits and looks much more relevant, emphasising that the hedge line should not be crossed.
The thing worthy of note regarding post-tonking there is that same lack of resistance – took very few ‘tonks’ to get the stakes in. This directly relates to the need for the hedge, demonstrating clearly that by the river there is little in the way of rocks to resist bank erosion. If we lose the vegetation, the roots of which hold the very sandy earth in place, through footfall along the bank, the river will quickly erode soil, taking our riverside path and the big trees with it. A big thank you to everyone who is now respecting the hedges there – it is a very important effort on everyone’s part!

A second group of workers set to on the area just inside the car park fence, by the gate. All winter this has been a quagmire and only the wellington shod have been prepared to cross it. Mysteriously, there is a drain under this area which takes surplus water to the river so why wasn’t it working any longer?

Piers’ Working Party ReportThe drain was originally put in place to carry water from a spring in the bank (up by the leat) across the wide path area to the river. But this winter the spring decided to change course ,and the result was water flowing out about 2 metres further into the woods. You’d think this wouldn’t matter too much but we soon discovered that there is a very large concrete slab by the first monster tree. We don’t know why it is there so if anyone can remember its construction perhaps you could let us know – one very far out explanation from an ex-Kentish resident is perhaps it was some form of gun emplacement to protect the bridge from enemy advancing eastward. A bit far fetched you may say, (Anne – very, I’d say!!!) but every river in Kent is littered with such structures and with D Day celebrations current at the time of writing does it seem possible that one of the relatively few bridges across the Lynher might have been protected???

Anyhow, I digress… the slab was simply holding the water in place with no soak away possible, hence the quagmire! Our counter measure was to dig a trench between the base of the bank and the slab, and lay a new pipe to connect the spring to the existing drain. We’ll find out how well this works next winter but at least for now you can enter through the gate and keep your feet dry!

Enough from me – next working party will be on July 6th, usual time and place. Hope to see you there.