Fencing and fine rain…

As much as I do enjoy the idea of sword fighting someone without actually getting hurt, my day instead was another trip out to Snowdonia. Today a group of 7 Bangor University students (including me) got out of bed at 8:15am to set off to a bog. Literally a bog. Cors Bodgynydd to be precise. And I didn’t have wellies.

The weather was again a monotone of grey which seems to have altered even the yellow paint of the now closed Yellow pub. Anyway nothing can be done about that so when the free minibus organised by the Snowdonia Society arrived we all jumped on with great enthusiasm. The minibus was shockingly comfy, then again at that time in the morning the damp pavement was starting to become appealing. Though with all my past experiences of begin crammed onto a packed out minibus, with climbing gear stuffed in on top and around you, I really did appreciate the space.

We set off. In the direction of my house I  might add. The trip was nice with lulls of consciousness. Arriving at Cors Bodgynydd at 9:45am we received a rainbow and introduction to the area. I learned that:

  1. It not gold at the end of the rainbow; its mud. Lots of mud.
  2. The bog is leased by the wildlife trust, and under their management the coniferous forest has been cut back.

This is only a small patch, within a much larger non-native conifer plantation which previously separated two sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs). This is to increase connectivity between the two areas, making it more open and an increased area for important wetland habitat. Though this management is ongoing, with the conifers continuously seeding, though this is manged using grazing (the most sustainable way, and the reason for our fencing.

The rain started then, or at least thats when I noticed it. It was this awful fine rain which which soaks you through (if you dont have waterproofs) in ten seconds flat, all the while pretending to be only a light little splashing that you could easily make it to the shops to without getting drowned. Damn you deceiving rain.

Before we set off a group leader made my dreams come true by saying she had spear wellies in her car. Though my hopes we shot down when she said the only ones left were size 11. I’m size 6 at the most. Yay. Oh well, can’t get too comfortable or I might enjoy myself. I accepted the wellies as it was better than anything else I had and from past experiences in mountain walking; you can have the best boots in the world and your waterproofs can be tucked around your toes, but in a bog your feet will get soaked.

We set off. Across the bog each carrying our bags and a wooden log. Hopping over a stream and then another we squelched our way to what would be considered base camp. We dumped the bags and got a demonstration of how to hit in a fence post, and how to “staple” the barbed wire in. Today’s work was improving the 20 year old fence by placing more fence posts in and securing the barbed wire to it. I’ve built fences from scratch before and so was expecting the usual post driver, though I was childishly overjoyed to see Mjölnir, Thor’s mighty hammer! Which was, as I’m sure you can imagine, just a big hammer.

We set off in groups: one hitting the post on the head, with the other using a second post to keep the first from falling (whilst angling themselves in odd shapes to avoid a stray hammer to the head). This was tough getting used to as the hammer is difficult to pick up  and hold above that of the 5ft tall post. Not to mention the aim. But once the post had been hit in a good 2ft we then used pegs to hook over the barbed wire and attach it to the post. Leaving enough room for the wire to move is important as it allows the cows who graze on the land to rest their heads on the wire without causing the posts to be yanked out of the ground with it.

The rain continued through the day though with moments of sunshine here and there. At lunch the group leaders set up a collapsing tarp to hide under. We all perch on tree stumps and mounds of cut up conifer twigs whilst we ate lunch and discussed the best weather forecaster. XC weather is fantastic for predicting wind speeds apparently, whilst the BBC are very over cautious with theirs. We then got back to the fencing taking more posts in a pile at the other end of the fence. A fun trek which would take five minutes if it wasn’t forgetting stuck in bog every 30 second resulting in a 15 minute trip all for one post.

All in all we hammered in 50 posts. A good days labour, which got us halfway along the fence before running out of fence posts at around 2:15pm and deciding to call it a day. I’m hoping to join them if they plan to do another fencing work day, there’s nothing like completing something which will hopefully give the fence life for another 20 years.



The first ever.

This is the post excerpt.

I’m very knew to the blogging thing. But I’ve recently been turned on to the idea of noting down my experiences of both travelling and conservation works which I am becoming more and more involved in. And who knows maybe also adding in any interesting trips and photos from climbing trips.

So for the first post I thought I should mention a conservation work day I took part in Monday 13th. This wasn’t the first time I’ve volunteered for a outdoor work. Previous work days, however, have been much more comfortable. Back down south and in the summer, where the work days consisted of being outdoors in the sun with a nice, bright green, polo teacher and thin leggings. Up in Snowdonia there was no chance of a nice sunny day, this is the middle of March.

But the cold and rain wasn’t enough to put me off a nice morning walk to the Yellow Pub in the centre of town and get a lift into Snowdonia to Capel Curig. A nice small town with a great cafe I consider a God send when just finishing a long walk in the rain. The purpose: to plant trees. More specifically locally grown trees on a rather barren section in between two branches of ancient woodland.

The trouble is that this area of land is still used for grazing, so any newly sprouting tree would be eaten in five seconds flat. To overcome this the trees we planted were slightly older than usual, this is to make them tall enough to not become easy prey. The landscape was also used as a way of protecting the trees without the use of fences to block off important grazing areas.

Using the land means that if there is any very steep hill where, from experience, you could easily slip almost all the way down you should plant a tree. I don’t think I’ll ever get the mud out of my trousers, coat or gloves. But that’s a sidetrack. The tree should be planted at a right angle to ensure it isn’t munched.

Using the land also included getting up close a personal to Gorse (the plant not the bird). A nasty little shrub which has bright yellow flowers and spiky little leaves which can get you despite the thick walking trousers, the leggings, the thick coat, the thermals and the fleece. But still its the best place to plant the trees, with the very tops angled to be right over the top of the patch of Gorse.

Overall it was a really rewarding day where 100 trees were planted, though a small number for a days work by conventional planting standards, it is a decent amount for the method we were using. In preliminary evaluations of this method i was told that the success rate is around 60-70%. But not only the rewarding feeling of adding another tree I also learned a lot about what soils the plants prefer and how to identify the different samplings.

Snowdonia Mountain Range
An example of the beautiful surroundings I found my self in on a dreary Monday. Though I usually hate Mondays, this one was brilliant.