On the last Sunday of April a small team of volunteers gathered at the bus terminus on Baslow Road to carry out conservation work at the west end of Gillfield Wood. The work on this occasion was weeding between a strip of hedgerow saplings that had been newly planted last year. Once weeded a few dead saplings had to be replaced with Hawthorn whips and then wheel-barrow loads of mulch were applied to the whole hedgerow to protect and encourage growth. This is just one example of the type of work undertaken by the Friends of Gillfield Wood to maintain and improve the habitat of our local woodland.
We work closely with the Council in agreeing all work undertaken and a big thanks has to go to Chris Roberts, our Sheffield CC Woodland Ranger, for his ongoing support and guidance at each monthly event. He brings along the necessary material and equipment; we normally meet on a Sunday at 10am and finish before 1pm. Volunteers can come and go as they please. It is a great atmosphere with plenty of chatting, especially when the tea and coffee is served by Chris during a welcome break. And most importantly there is both light and heavy work to cater for all ages and abilities, and we always stress “no experience is necessary”; we just have a good and very rewarding time.
A couple of months ago, the team were busy repairing two dry stone walls that had collapsed in that same area. It just makes it so much nicer for anyone visiting the wood to see these old walls in a good state. That is why we were particularly proud when we managed to rebuild the long boundary wall at that west end. This wall is just on the edge of the main part of the wood and runs up the steep banking, from the pond to the top wall on the north side of the wood, so it was particularly challenging. The old stones from the collapsed wall had to be dug out from under soil and undergrowth as they had gradually disappeared from sight over the years. We also erected the wooden gate and kissing gate there, one of our first jobs as a group.
The ride between the bus terminus and these gates is also regularly maintained with branches cut back to ensure the ride remains wide and open, not only for access but also to allow the light to filter down for the benefit of the flora and fauna. There is nothing better than seeing bees and butterflies enjoying the sun along this ride. We are also creating a new wild flower meadow area in front of the picnic tables at that end of the wood. It is well worth a visit in the summer but please bear in mind the tiny meadow is “work in progress” following hours of digging, weeding, scarifying and seeding.
Just near to the ride we have also created our first pond. This was no sooner mentioned as an idea to the Council than they agreed to the work being carried out. A digger was brought in at short notice and our group did the necessary clearance work to make it all a huge success. With a small amount of planting around the edge, the pond looks very healthy now and pleasingly it survived the hot summer last year; it did not dry out as water filters in from the ground around. More recently we have dug a small pond next to the footpath that leads down from Totley Hall Lane. It is under the lovely large Oak tree, so we had to be careful the roots of the old tree were not damaged and it was also important not to disturb the yellow Irises that grow there. Hopefully these two ponds will increase the diversity of aquatic life in our area and bring pleasure to anyone who wishes to just stand and look.
Our other work has included thinning trees and creating a glade in one part of the wood. These habitat improvements allow in the sunlight and encourage the ground flora to flourish. This should benefit many of our ground nesting birds not to mention the wide variety of invertebrates that exist in our wood. We have certainly noticed the increase in bluebells and wood anemones in these areas as well as the bramble cover. We have also undertaken coppice work where we have cut back trees and shrubs to encourage re-growth and we have created wood and brash piles to provide shelter for small mammals and again suitable habitat for invertebrates; and we have planted a variety of trees in selected areas.
We have also been involved in the clearance of litter and removal of illegal tipping; the taking down of barbed wire fencing; the erection of wooden fencing and the erection of specially made way-marker posts; plus so much more as we near ten years of helping the council manage this lovely woodland. We have occasional site meetings with the council to discuss ideas; and our own Andy Brewster has worked closely with them over the years, creating a management plan for each year, agreeing the work and bringing the FoGW team together each month.
Amongst all this work we have also tried to improve the main footpath through the wood; not an easy task and it has admittedly not proved very successful. However during the early part of last year we had a site meeting with the council to look at the state of the path. Following this meeting we presented the council with an impressive twenty-two page report containing photos and grid references of all the muddy sections along the path. This resulted in the council securing the funding and providing the machinery and manpower to improve the worst parts of the path with a little help from some of our members. Our Ranger, Chris, was even seen using a leaf blower in the autumn to prevent the build-up of leaves that had fallen in certain sections of the path that had been improved.
So we do hope you enjoy Gillfield Wood with all its wildlife, its history and its ancient flora, and if any of you are tempted to join us on one of our Sunday work mornings to help maintain and protect this special piece of woodland, then you will certainly be made very welcome.
Please check our website www.friendsofgillfieldwood.com or contact Andy on firstname.lastname@example.org
See photos below (Please click for an enlarged view and a brief description).
Sunday 17 September 2017
A great session on Sunday. Andy, Mick and Chris M. raking the meadow in the sun, perfect. Chris Roberts the photographer. (Thanks, Chris for the photo!) Just the four of us all morning.
22nd January 2017
Thanks to TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) organisation who provided a mixed hedgerow selection of trees free of charge we were able to plant a new hedgerow at the bus terminus entrance to the wood during our conservation morning today. Hopefully it will grow into a wild-life friendly habitat over the next few years.
Many thanks Chris Roberts (Ranger) and to those who turned out today. We soon warmed up once we started working
AUGUST 2016 PCM
Chris Roberts, Andy Brewster and Stuart Davies repairing the water pipe that runs under the footpath near entrance 1.
At the beginning of April 2016 a few FOGW volunteers together with Sheffield City Council ranger Chris Roberts erected a memorial bench in memory of Avril Critchley at the Scout Hut end of the wood.
A fitting tribute to a staunch supporter of our group.
Thanks also to Chris Roberts for providing the wood for the bench.
We have a pond!
For those of you who were involved in the work last Sunday (21 Feb 2016) we now have a pond in place! The rangers came last Tuesday and excavated the area. Many thanks to all who helped.
Below are a number of images courtesy of Derek Bateson and Stuart Davies showing what the group has achieved.
The pond seems to be holding water OK. Certainly the subsoil seemed to be a good mix of clay. Obviously it needs a few months to naturalise but so far so good.
Click on the images for an expanded version and a short explanation.
A few photos taken of some "serious" Conservation work being done preparing the Wildflower Meadow by Chris Roberts and a number of enthusiastic members! Great work everyone!
Images are © of Derek Bateson & Paul Hancock