An update from Sara Messenger of Bradley Stoke’s Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group.
Annual New Year hedgelaying weekend
We are now in our ninth year of hedgelaying along the entire length of Bradley Stoke Way and I think we’re getting the hang of it! Green Gym went in over Christmas and cleared 65 paces along the fence on the reserve side and Robocut was bought in to clear some of the large blackthorn patch that has in recent years crept across the verge. This, combined with the weather being kind to us, meant that we managed to lay 65 paces of hedge, which is a new record for us; we only stopped because we ran out of trees! Last year (2018) saw 42 paces and 2017 saw 32 paces, so we’re taking bets as to how far we get next year!
As always, on the Sunday a hot lunch was cooked for us on site by our quartermaster Rob Williams, and as dusk began to fall we toasted our new hedge with his homemade sloe gin.
We have taken down our hedgelaying banner and replaced it with one of our generic reserve banners. Apart from our banners, the reserve now has no signage, as all the wooden reserve signs and the large Run England sign were removed many months ago by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) and have yet to be replaced. Our notice board at the lake was disposed of by Wessex Water, and although SGC promised us several new boards, they have yet to make an appearance.
We have asked that the reserve be signposted on the brown information sign as you enter Bradley Stoke from Aztec West, but it was suggested that we don’t have enough footfall to warrant that (although I’m fairly sure we match the library for visitors), so we will have to remain for the moment a hidden gem!
The fallen one in Savages Wood
Savages Wood is the largest of our woodlands and the earliest record we have of it is on an Ordnance Survey map of 1880. On other maps it appears as Savers Wood, so we’re not sure when or how the name changed. As well as the oak by the skate park we have another bigger oak with a wide spread. This is unusual for a woodland tree, which suggests that in its youth it may have stood alone at the edge of a farmer’s field. Sadly, one of our oldest trees has come to the end of its life and in the recent winds came crashing down. At over 60ft ‘tall’ it is far too big to move, so apart from clearing a few branches to clear the path we have left it as it is. In the future I think it would make a wonderful carving, but for now it will be left in peace. If you want to see the fallen one for yourself, go through the gate behind the leisure centre and follow the path, take the first left and you will very soon see the tree on your right.
Our lake is in a very different state to this time last year. Last January, it was bursting its banks and there were concerns that if the water rose much more the Wessex Water construction site would be flooded. This year, there are no such concerns as we have more mud than water; I’m told the weir has been left open, which may be the cause. I’ve also been told that Brooke (our female swan) is often alone on the lake. It is possible Nugget is hiding, or, more likely, as he is now an adult, he may have flown off in search of a mate; whether he returns with his new bride or if Brooke will accept another mate now all the kids have left, we have yet to see. Although Bradley was a really big character and is greatly missed, life moves on and it would be wonderful to see the lake again brimming with new life.
• How to contact the Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group…
Photos: 1 Hedgelaying weekend. 2 Homemade sloe gin. 3 Nature reserve banner on Bradley Stoke Way.
This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 22 & 23). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.