We had two well-supported bees in August – and the weather was kind and at last typical for the time of year. In the mid-week bee, we set to with hand and pole saws to try and clear the head of the chestnut tree that had fallen into the river last month.

It’s a fine balance clearing such obstacles – the current wisdom is that anything that slows river flow to prevent too much pressure and flooding downstream is a good thing, but equally a blockage of this size might cause problems for our neighbours and, as it is not firmly anchored, a big flood may wash it downstream in one-piece, damaging bridges as it goes. We hope we’ve got the mix right, certainly we cleared enough to allow water to flow under the tree and reduce the rush that was eroding the west bank as it raced to get passed the blockage. We think there is a little more work needed near the west bank, but it is quite deep there so waders will come into play!

For the Saturday bee we broke into 3 groups. The carpenters and engineers amongst us were able to tackle the much-anticipated bridge repair. The wooden slats on the east bank pier were rotting as was the timber to which they were fixed, so after stripping everything away new (rot treated) timber was fitted and the bridge looks so much better for it. A special thank you to the team that did this work – the normal 3 hour bee stretched into Saturday afternoon and then Sunday morning so a superb effort by all involved! One of the group was a new member – I hope we didn’t put him off!!!!

The bad news from this exercise is that the steelwork of the pier needs some remedial attention as the welds are cracking – it is a direct result of the bridge being so bouncy, so please until we can get welders in to repair it, cross the bridge as if you were walking on eggs!!!

(Update – you will have seen that we closed the bridge on September 10th as the problem was more serious than first thought. Hopefully, weather permitting, this will have started by the time you read this, and we will be underway with raising the funds needed to repair the large hole in our finances.)

The second group did a bit more clearing on the fallen chestnut and the third group had a very productive session surveying in two teams. Our knowledge base about the woods

(what plants are present, what holes in the ground might house ….) is ever growing and the opportunity to make the right conservation decisions can ensure the woods thrive.

It wouldn’t be a Piers report without one small piece of moaning although this month it comes in the form of a polite (and of course sensible) request. TO ALL HOLIDAY LET LANDLORDS out there – in your information packs please tell your holidaying tenants that they are very welcome in the woods, but that they must leave it as they find it. This is best achieved by keeping to the paths and not paddling in the river (see salmon piece above). Primary message is that this is a conservation project not a fun park and as such the fauna and flora comes before the visitor in all that we do (and say to those transgressors that are unlucky enough to get caught).

Thank you – as the evenings draw in the summer mid-month working bees are now finished but they will be back next year. In the meantime, see you next month – 10.00 on the 6th October in the car park. While working in the car wash may be better than digging a ditch (70’s music quiz question) the ditches still need to be dug and this will be next months task along with more surveys. See you there