This weekend twelve of us stayed at Worfolk Cottage, Staintondale, travelling on the Friday evening and working on the nearby Fylingdales Moor.
On Saturday we met Chris, the warden for the area, in a layby 3 miles away from base at Helwarth Grains. After a chat about the day ahead we set off with tools and backpacks for a short but challenging walk to our work location. The ground was very uneven with large tussocks of grass amid other long grass, making for very bumpy terrain. Nothing that we couldn’t cope with of course!
Our work that day involved making brash faggots and installing them in the nearby beck, to ‘slow the flow’ and reduce flood risk downstream. Chris explained the process, starting with putting 4 stakes in the ground in an oblong pattern and laying two lengths of twine on the ground. Between these stakes we placed branches of about 1½ metres length, cut from nearby overgrown scrub and trees. Once the bundle was ½ a metre high (squashed down), the twine was wrapped around each end and tied tight. Thus we had made a bundle (‘faggot’) of branches and brash.
We spent the morning creating probably around 50 bundles. After lunch we set about placing our brash faggots at selected locations into and across the beck, securing them with stakes. The idea was to create mini ‘leaky’ dams where over time pools of water would form. Apart from holding back the water during heavy rainfall to reduce flood risk, the pools create new habitat which benefits wildlife such as water voles. Water voles were definitely around – as evidenced by the blade of grass Chris showed us, gnawed across at an angle, which apparently is a typical ‘tell tale sign’. We were also lucky enough to see a small (field?) vole that crawled its way through the undergrowth right where we sat for lunch! They are cute!
Later that evening we enjoyed a fine meal of baked potatoes, sausages, ratatouille, fruit pies and custard. Jude had once again kindly planned the food for the weekend and was ably helped with the shopping trip on the previous Thursday evening by Niamh. Everyone else mucked in with chopping, stirring or washing up according to preference.
On Sunday we met at a different location, again quite nearby above Ravenscar. We had a short walk to a point with great views down to the sea and (through binoculars) to some seals on the rocks below. We then went 200 metres back into the moors where Chris pointed out various landmarks and gave us a sense of his ‘office’, which was vast!
The work today consisted of hand pulling, digging up and some cutting down of small pine trees that had self-seeded from the nearby plantation into the heather of the open moorland. At lunchtime we saw some tiny holes in the ground that were home to mining bees and we caught sight of a lizard. We do seem to attract the wildlife!
Once again it was a great team effort, beautiful location and a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. When’s the next one?!
If you’d like to know more about ‘slow the flow’ and natural flood management, this article is a good starting point: https://environmentagency.blog.gov.uk/2015/11/11/slowing-the-flow-working-with-nature-to-reduce-flood-risk-in-north-yorkshire/.