After the success of our Dry Stone Walling Competition on Saturday it was good to be back out walling at Mazonwath on Monday. The curlews sang as we continued relocating a wall that the growing trees were forcing down. It is amazing how variable a wall can be in terms of stone. Last time we were really struggling for any sizeable stone. Move on a metre or so and we were taking down huge blocks of stone and could make whole courses full of through stones alone. The stone all goes back to what was originally available on site and using what was nearest, much of it bedrock or stones cleared from the fields.

a dry stone wall photo

Walling at Mazonwath

On Tuesday it was up north. We have been gifted a large area of woodland to the east of Carlisle. We had no knowledge this was coming our way so it was a complete shock when solicitors wrote to tell us last year. Trustees will now have to decide what they wish to do with it.  As part of this process we met up with a local tree surgeon and Cumbria Woodlands. There is a well used right of way through the wood but it has obviously been hammered by storms and the first task is to make it safe for the public. We discussed which trees need to come down for safety reasons and also the benefits of thinning the wood to let in a bit more light in some places, but the downside being this could make it more unstable in terms of winds, and could lead to more windblow damage. Best to leave it as it is... We also have big infestations of Himalayan balsam in the lighter areas. This plant has massive seed spreading capability and can easily invade whole catchments as it floats downstream in the becks and rivers. Ideally it needs to come out, but it would be five or so years of hard labour or big cash, as each cleared area would be a target for more spreading seeds. The practicality of going down the slopes to pull it would also be quite a challenge.  All real issues that come with managing land.

Clayhurley Bank woods

To date we had found no one who could tell us anything of the history of the wood but a few hours in the wood showed it is a really popular local resource and the locals love it. We met a couple who had known it since children, and when they fell in love carved their names into one of the trees. They were at pains to stress they would never do that now of course! They told us of otters and kingfishers nearby. Its name is interesting, Clayhurley Bank, and conjures up images of kids hurling handfuls of mud down the steep banks! According to the tree surgeon who lives nearby, the clay in the title reflects it being on clay soils. The hurley bit remains a mystery....  

Next time we are out is Wed 5th June at High Borrowdale. Join us if you can.