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

“Thursday’s RIGHT OUT”*

The weather Gods have blown our next volunteering day on Thursday into submission, so were having to CANCEL.

All the forecasts are now predicting winds gusting over 50mph with some saying up to 70mph therefore it would be neither safe nor comfortable.

Our next day is on the 28th of Feb (two weeks today) so if you can join us please let us know.

Stay safe peeps.


(*Its a quote from a rather wonderful Monty Python Sketch btw)

Oh dear😥

Well the Gods don’t seem to want us to host volunteer days at the moment do they? We sadly had to cancel our last day because of dreadful weather and it seems to have started a trend. We can cope with a bit of wind, but it’s not looking very good for Thursday is it?

We will make a decision whether to go ahead with our day on Tuesday.


Its looking very unlikely that we can go ahead on Thursday. All the forecasts say ’very’ windy, and as we will either be working near trees or out in the open, this doesnt bode well for safety or comfort.

(Update added 16:46 13/2)

Awls and owls.

As our Saturday with volunteers had to be cancelled due to the weather forecast (which was correct if perhaps a tad understated) we had a few jobs to do this week.

We continued on with the planting of our new scrub with some willow and alder in the wet and damp bits. Some of this will protect a wall between the Cluster and Castle Farm, from flood water, as it gets damaged every few years.

We are trying a different technique for planting some willow ’setts/stobbs’ (c18” pieces of willow which are hammered into the ground leaving about 6” above ground to grow into new willows). As these are very prone to rabbit damage, we have used old tree shelters and tied them to the willow with biodegradable string, using the willow as a stake. Fingers crossed, the willow will grow and in a couple of years time we can remove the shelters and reuse them.

After doing the planting we went for a walk towards the Heggs end of the cluster. We noticed our first barn owl out hunting. We watched it for a while and as it drifted off we set off walking again well chuffed!

Unbelievably within a couple of minutes we saw another hunting. We could still see our ’first’ in the distance. I managed to grab a couple of ’record’ shots with my phone but will have to return with a camera in the near.

We enjoyed that walk.

(If you are wondering what the ’awl’ bit refers to in the blog title, well its what I used to make a hole through the tree shelters to thread the string through)



Firstly apologies to the rampant hoards who had signed up for volunteering tomorrow. God* has decreed that Saturday will be the wettest day of the winter so far (*other deities are available). Whether this will turn out to be correct, remains to be seen. But it was with a heavy heart that we decided earlier today to call tomorrow’s planting fest off. I’d even bought the ingredients for a stunning soup -fest.

So we now have a load of alder and willow that need planting in the very near future. We will be planting these next week, so if you fancy having a gentle play next week and being a major contributor to saving life as we know it (other opinions are available) please let us know.

And to finish on a more positive and uplifting note, here’s a wonderful portrait by John Singer Sargent.

Martin WW

Scrubbing up pt 2.

Shelters and canes have now been procured courtesy of The Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and Tees Swale Naturally Connected. Many thanks.

As we have bare-rooted hawthorn to plant asap (125) we have decided to make Monday a ‘flash planting’ (this is possibly the first use ever of this is according to Google’s Ngram viewer?)

Meet at noon at Castle bridge if you fancy helping, but let us know beforehand if poss. If you fancy some fun (its a surfaced track but a bit steep lower down), feel free to drive to the ‘meet’ spot (4WD only).

Scrubbing up.

Yesterday saw our first public volunteer day of the new year. We were working in the lee of some woodland which kept the cold north-westerly wind away and we also had a bit of sun for company.

We are currently short of ’scrub’ on the Cluster. It is a very valuable habitat and our aim is to increase the amount we have through management and planting.

We used all the guards we had (more on order) which gave us an early finish, so we had a walk around the Cluster, a veritable ’guided tour’ in fact.

We have another volunteer day coming up a week tomorrow where we might be finishing the planting if we haven’t got the remaining plants in before that.


Natural Flood Management (NFM)

Earlier today we had a very interesting and illuminating online meeting with various partners to talk about our plans for NFM work on the cluster. We are working with Durham University to model the outcomes of proposed works and we saw a presentation of how any measures would affect peak flows in the area.

The works proposed would all have a positive effect in reducing flooding risk and we are now looking forward to starting works as soon as consent from the Yorkshire Dales National Park has been granted.

As well as reducing flood risk, the new scrapes, ponds and leaky dams will be of great benefit for biodiversity (and residents lower down the Arkle hopefully).

We will blog about this in more detail in the coming weeks.

Volunteer Days 2022

Here is a list of our volunteer days for the next few months. We start at 10 am and will be providing hot drinks and soup (always vegan but we can hopefully deal with other likes/dislikes/allergies/intolerances etc, let us know) and cake.

27/1. Hedge planting

5/2. Tree shelter removal

17/2. Exclosure moving/building

28/2. Exclosure moving/building

19/3. Tree shelter removal

25/4. General river bank tidy up from winter floods

All the above are weather dependent and tasks could change.

if you are interested in helping on any please get in touch