Summer update

While the effects of our winter work are often more noticable (such as oak thinning, path widening and coppicing) we do keep busy over the summer months and I thought I would post an update detailing what we’ve been up to.

Firstly we’ve been processing a lot of timber into logs ready for next winter. Firewood sales continue their upward trend and we’re now prepared to meet demand. Most of the cutting and splitting was undertaken by our log processing machine this year, although Sam and I would still be stacking now if it wasn’t for the help of our volunteers in stacking the logs into our sheds. While stacking we did come across this stage beetle and were fortunate to escape with out lives:

Stag Beetle 

Another use of our timber has been supplying wildlife gardens and outdoor play areas with various benches, bridges and the like. Using our Alaskan mill to cut the timber lengthways along the grain we have supplied wood for Ightham Mote’s new outdoor play area as aided local schools in setting up wildlife areas.

Having completed once charcoal burn already this summer we’re all prepared for another next week. By design or pot luck we seem to be improving the amount of charcoal recovered from each burn and our bags of barbeque charcoal can be purchased from us or the Ightham Mote gift shop.

At Coldrum Longbarrow (one of our outlying properties, a neolithic tomb) the summer solstice passed with minimal rubbish to collect afterwards which was a relief. We’re in consulation with English Heritage to replace the old chestnut fence there which looks as old as the tomb itself, although I’ve been reliably informed was installed in the 1990s. Stopping fires being lit on the site and managing the competing interests of different groups continue to be a challenge at Coldrum.

You may have seen previous posts regarding the scrub clearance at Wrotham Water Farm. The site includes chalk downland which is SSSI designated (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and supports an impressive array of orchids and other chalk loving wild flowers. Scrub encroachment threatens the rare species there and last year large areas of scrub were mechanically flailed or torn out by the roots using tracked excavators. This decision was made in conjunction with Natural England as it was felt that drastic measures would allow us to get on top of the scrub rather than nibbling away at it year after year. One year later the site is recovering at a phenomenal rate with pyramidal orchids popping up on the lower arable reversion fields. Of course species like rose and hawthorn  also attempt to recolonise and we are currently carrying out targeted herbicide treatment before sheep come on to graze the site in the coming weeks.

Wrotham Flora

Of course the usual clearance of bracken, brambles and the like continues to keep the paths open and the glades in good condition; infact I suspect one reason that this blog post is so lengthy is that I’m putting off going out strimming the entrances and glades this morning. If you’re reading this and own a dog please clear up after it and dispose of the waste off site. We shouldn’t have to spend some of our limited resources clearing up after your dog and it ruins my day when I hit dog mess with the strimmer.

Anyway, I hope you do come and enjoy Petts Wood this summer, please stay posted for future updates.

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About Richard

Ranger Petts Wood & Hawkswood Estate
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