Trees please…update.

Those of you who are subscribed to the blog get an email with any new blog post. However, that is a copy of the original post (mistakes included). Unfortunately the link to the ancient tree inventory was incorrect. The link has been corrected on our blog, but will still be incorrect in your original notification email. Click on the blog title in the email to take you to the corrected version.

Other blog writers are available…if a tad quiet!


Trees Please…(old ones especially)

First up is an update on our wild boar. No further evidence, but I imagine there may be further sightings (or similar) on the first day of April next year!

So what has been happening in the mean time? Well not a lot on the ground sadly. The contract for our big planting has been put out for tender with a lot of site visits so far made by prospective contractors. We still have no idea either when any of our NFM (natural flood management) work will commence, which is frustrating, but as they say (no idea tho who ‘they’ are?) “good things come to those that wait”. We will see.

BUT on a positive note, we had a very interesting session earlier today with a lady from the Woodland Trust ancient tree inventory scheme. ( ) This aims to map all the ancient trees in the country (of which there are a few registered locally and a lot more not yet registered). She showed us how to identify old trees, how to record them and what to look for when searching. There are quite a few on The Cluster from mighty ancient crab apples to old elders (which are seldom recorded).

Looking at an old Rowan

A wet start turned into a dry late morning with lots of interesting points raised regarding how to correctly measure and photograph trees before sending the details to the Ancient Tree Inventory (see link above). I expect a few records from The Cluster to start appearing on the inventory soon. If you would like to see any of these old trees, drop us a line.

Many thanks to Christa Nelson (Tees-Swale Naturally Connected) and to Vanessa (didn’t get her surname) for facilitating this.



We have been keeping a close eye on a certain part of The Cluster as we’ve noticed some unusual soil disturbance. We had no idea what was causing this, although we had our suspicions.

Yesterday our suspicions were confirmed when we had our first sighting of a wild boar on The Cluster. Yipeee….. Although we didn’t get a photo there’s no doubt as to what we saw. We will be getting our trail cam set up later today.

Watch this space!

Super Sunny Saturday?

This next Saturday sees another of our volunteer days. The forecast is perfect. Lots of spring sunshine.

We will be erecting wire ’exclosures’ to prevent bunnies from nibbling emergent growth to see what flowers etc are actually growing on the Cluster. We have had some up for a couple of years and the difference is quite amazing.

So ’Children of the Cluster’ don’t be shy. Sign up here p l e a s e ( Contact ). Its easy enough ’work’ but dont forget your suncream!

Martin WW

How was your day?

(Ours was pretty good…)

Thankfully Thursday’s weather was decidedly spring-like. A tad breezy admittedly but very pleasant. I reckoned the four of us would be finished by lunchtime which would hopefully leave plenty of time for a wander afterwards.

I had ‘processed’ the willow (chopped up into lengths and put a rather dashing point on one end), so today just involved banging in the willow, then a tree stake and then putting a shelter on. I had also cut some to about 3 feet in length which were hammered in leaving about 6 inches above ground. we also managed to get some into the river bed which is only stony for a few inches then becomes lovely clay. Great for holding willow stakes in.

We were done by 12:30 and celebrated our ‘mammoth’ morning with red soup (tom and roasted red pepper) and some decidedly alcoholic gluten free cake. Whilst eating we were thrilled to have a pair of red kite with spring in their wings flapping around behind our ‘camp’. Professor Yaffle (you have to be of a certain age*) was calling frequently and a pair of oystercatcher seem to have made themselves at home too. “Nice”.

Our two volunteers (Paul and Jo…oh and I suppose Derek who continues to think himself a real dog) left after lunch so wife, Liz and myself wandered along to Heggs. My first primroses of the year were flowering along with some dubious snowdrops. They were along a riverside pasture so may have arrived via flooding.

On return we packed all the tools/broke camp and set off to harvest even more willow for further ‘in-river’ planting. All today’s willow and the extra came from one tree (last pic) which was pollarded along with quite a few others near Low Row a few years ago, to provide material for just this sort of malarkey.

It looks like I might be getting wet feet this weekend!

Martin WW

*Bagpuss age.


Wot u doin on Thursday? Helping us plant willow hopefully. If not, why not you ’naughty naughty things’? (in the words of English composer and leader of The Enid Robert John Godfrey…an eccentric and very talented man. See a cover of ’Wild Thing’ on YouTube to hear where the quote comes from…its quite something🤔🤔🤔. But for sheer beauty listen to ’The Immolation of Fand’. He’s also been featured on Radio 3)

Sorry drifted off there. I’m listening to it now.

Right, were doing a short willow planting sesh this Thursday. A couple of hours of planting (snax provided natch) to try and further stabilise our big land slip.

Just turn up at the area circled ⬇️ and we will see you there.

Martin WW

Playing In Puddles

Monday didn’t dawn bright and clear. It was decidedly moist. Never mind, it wasn’t throwing it down or particularly windy so as planned we met up with our volunteers at 10am to plant some willow in the very wet bits of the land slip which we planted a couple of days earlier.

By lunchtime we had all our willow planted so we set up ’camp’ as it was still drizzling and had red soup (sweet potato, lentil and tomato with a dash of ever so exotic coconut) and brown cake (dark chocolate and sour cherry). All vegan natch.

After lunch we decided to move all the existing ’exclosures’ which are there to protect small areas from the darling bunnies, so we can properly survey the flora this year. As grass had grown through the mesh, having a few pair of hands to lift at the same time made it an easy job.

Another cup of tea and we ’broke camp’ and headed off home. A very useful and enjoyable day. Even Derek the dog (I think he’s a dog🤔🤔🤔) enjoyed himself.

Martin WW

Forgot to mensh…

We have had to update the forthcoming volunteer day tasks because of our recent weather cancellations, so please have a look here Volunteer Days 2022 for details.

If you receive notifications when we post a blog, please open the link in the email (to the blog post) as it appears that you only get the original post in the email text. The posts are almost always updated (when we correct mistakes and add images, as sometimes WordPress fails to upload pix straight away).

I hope the above makes sense?

Martin WW

Bare root bonanza.

Thankfully our long time arranged planting day with Raleigh UK Alumni Society dawned sunny with no threat of rain. After the February we have had we were very grateful for this.

We had been promised 650 bare rooted trees by The Woodland Trust, along with stakes and shelters. These were due to be delivered on Friday but I hadn’t heard anything by the Friday morning and so was getting a tad nervous. A call to Thorpe Trees near York (who were delivering them) confirmed that they were on their way. Relief.

10 volunteers met on site in the morning and eventually got planting after all the usual sorting of trees and shelters. Lunch (leek and tattie soup) soon followed and it looked like we may not get them all planted, but a stirling effort in the afternoon achieved our aim. As we had our post-work cuppas we were rewarded with a barn owl hunting in the sun around us. We also heard curlew ‘bubbling’, green woodpecker ‘yaffling’ and oystercatchers doing whatever they do. It felt like spring. We even found some barren strawberry in flower!

Many thanks to all who turned up to help. Seemingly an enjoyable day was had by all.

Our volunteer day tomorrow (Monday 28th Feb) will be planting willow in the wet bits among yesterdays planting, so we should end up with about 750 trees in total, creating a wildlife corridor from the Arkle up to the ”allotments” on Fremington Edge (where we plan to plant a ‘few’ trees in the future…watch this space).

Martin WW