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January to December 2011

January 2011

Sunday 9th

Whitewebbs Park

The first task of the year traditionally involves pond work, and today the volunteers returned to the small ponds near the northern end of Flash Lane. Because of their size, these ponds need attention to avoid them filling in and disappearing. Eight volunteers cleared debris and silt from the ponds and cut back some overhanging vegetation, which should allow them to hold water for at least part of the season.

Steve Mathieson

Sunday 23rd

The Merryhills Way footpath

Today the volunteers returned to the prospective footpath running from Fairview Road off the Ridgeway to Trent Park and Enfield Road. The site was last visited on 5th September 2010, and once again the work was at the Ridgeway end. The woods near the entrance get very muddy in winter, and the day’s main tasks were to set two drainage pipes under the path and to dig to ditches to drain them. One of the channels required a slight rerouting of the path, and log edging was added. Road scalpings were laid on the path to improve its surface.

Additional work included clearing a fallen tree from the path and cutting back vegetation.
An inspection of the drainage system installed on the 5th September revealed it to be working well. Today’s eight volunteers, including one first-timer, were optimistic that their efforts would be equally effective.

ECV 23 January 2011

Steve Mathieson


Sunday 6th

Bush Hill Park

In mild windy weather 12 volunteers worked on laying the remaining 10 metres of hedge in Bush Hill Park Nature area. Mainly  hazel and hawthorn of uniform thickness the result was a neat stockproof barrier.Our youngest volunteer became apprenticed to an expereinced worker and learned a lot.  Everyone felt satisfied with our efforts. The Friends of Bush Hill Park ( were also present working on their raised pond with sleeper walls.

This was a momentous day for us as it was the last task led by Christina Lee.  We were all very sad about her move to Wales and wished her well in her future career.  There was some further discussion of ECV future running and a member possibly taking charge of our tools in order to make them more easily accessible on Sundays, should there be future tasks.
Jill Kidger

Sunday 20th

Trent Country Park

Six volunteers made the first visit of 2011 to the Nature Trail to continue the work to prevent the sycamores taking over. Many of the previously felled trees were throwing up vigorous regrowth and this was removed in order to check the trees for this year. Attention then shifted to the felling of some more of the mature trees, which proved to be a damp business as the sap was in full flow. Whilst sycamores do not provide nesting sites for birds, the creation of habitat piles made up of the felled material will provide cover and shelter for small creaures and insects for a long time to come.
Judy Mayo


Sunday 6th

Whitewebbs Park

The footpath and banks of the Mile and a Quarter North footpath are being shaded by self seeded ash trees and overgrown hawthorn bushes. This means the footpath doesn’t dry out (if and when it ever rains) and the wild primroses lack sunshine. Six volunteers resumed clearance work from where we finished last August and again a small bonfire was used to quickly and efficiently get rid if the spoil. Better than it ending up in the brook!
Judy Mayo

Sunday 20th

Trent Country Park

Near the Cockfosters entrance to Trent Park two new ponds have been dug out, and under the auspices of Froglife, ECV put in some native plants to begin the natural colonisation process. Froglife is a charity fostering amphibian habitats, which these ponds have the potential to become.

The recently dug ponds were very bare and muddy when the eight volunteers turned up, but Froglife had provided plant plugs for a range of habitats around the pond, including meadowsweet, creeping jenny and valerian for the moist soil outside the water’s edge, and yellow flag, flowering rush and lesser pond sedge for the swampy margins. More plants were to be provided later for the deeper water.

When the planting was completed there was not much difference to be seen, but as the flora establishes itself these ponds should become a valuable resource for amphibians and other aquatic wildlife.

Steve Mathieson


Sunday 3rd

Oakwood Park

A return visit to Oakwood Park to continue the removal of scrub which overshadows this rare example of acid grassland in London. Six volunteers cut back regrowth to ground level and with the assistance of park staff widened the area even more whilst still leaving a distinct barrier between the wilder area and the neatly trimmed lawns beside the café. Hopefully enough space has been left to allow the council mowers access so in future they will be able to manage this special environment, but ECV are always ready to lend a hand if required!
Judy Mayo

Sunday 17th

Forty Hall

Areas of Forty Hall’s meadows are getting covered by oak seedlings, probably mainly planted there by jays and squirrels. As the grassland is meant to remain open, the five volunteers cut two areas of seedlings to the ground to allow it to be mowed to prevent it succeeding to scrub.
Steve Mathieson


Sunday 1st

Trent Country Park

Four volunteers were out on Mayday, not dancing round a maypole, but removing sycamore stumps in an area of the nature trail near the perimeter fence, This was gruelling work as the ground was very hard due to the recent spell of fine weather and the tenacious hold the sycamores had, and seemed determined to keep. However, ECV workers are made of stern stuff and soon removed several large stumps. These had to be left on site but as the roots have been left in midair won’t regrow, and may become viewed as sculptures in due course!
Judy Mayo

Sunday 15th

Whitewebbs Park

The Warren Path, which runs down from the walled garden at Forty Hall to the mile and a quarter footpath was the destination for today’s four volunteers. The fence separating it from the fields belonging to Forty Hall Farm was in need of repair, and, using a combination of new and recycled materials, posts were re-driven, rails re-nailed and wire re-stapled.

Steve Mathieson

Sunday 29th

Whitewebbs Park

The whitewebbs dambusters. 

Michael, David and Mark tackled the brook blocked by a fallen sycamore. We removed pallets and wood paneling and a metal fence, which is to be picked up by the council. 
The job was grim, swarms of greenfly and the smell was really bad but at least we got the water moving again. We will return in two weeks to clear more pallets and wood further upstream in preparation for the council cutting up the fallen sycamore and removing it. There is still a lot of clearing to do. We finished at 2:30 and I am glad none of us had to get the bus as we all smelt of stagnant water!
Mark Judge


Sunday 12th

Whitewebbs Park

Eight volunteers turned up for the return match against the debris blocking the brook running through Whitewebbs Golf Course. The weather was very different to last time with continual rain meaning that you were as wet out of the water as in it! Although a couple more dumped pallets and plywood sheets were removed (why there -it must be a job to carry them so far from a car park) the majority of the blockages were caused by material more in keeping with the surroundings;tree branches and trunks. The steep sides to the brook meant that ropes and brute force were needed to clear these and seven very damp and aching ECV ended their day knowing that we had achieved something.
Judy Mayo

Sunday 26th

Shaw's Wood, Trent Country Park

This was another day on the ongoing project to clear Rhododendron from Shaws Wood. Rhododendron is particularly bad for wildlife in this country, being both invasive and capable of forming a monoculture due to its dense shade and poisonous leaves.

Today six volunteers cut the bushes down and, where possible, grubbed out the stumps with mattocks. No bonfire was set, so large piles of stems roots and branches were left, giving at least a bit of shelter to small animals. The Rhododendron cover in these woods is now quite patchy, and ground flora in areas cleared of Rhododendron is always slow to recover, and what Rhododendron remains is quick to march across and reclaim its territory. More visits to this site are required.
Steve Mathieson


Sunday 10th

Nature Trail, Trent Country Park

6 eager volunteers met at the Staff Yard to prepare for the continued battle with sycamores.
We returned to the top end near the Trent park entrance to the Animal sanctuary and began to fell slender but tall sycamore. We have been in this area several times in the last few years but we always find more sycamore to deal with, from the tiny seedlings, with surprisingly deep roots, to mature trees that need careful attention.

We then uprooted some previously felled trees, with sheer hard work, slog and pickaxes and upended the roots so they could not re-grow.

We also discovered a large patch of Japanese Knotweed in the centre of Shaw`s wood which was reported to the proper authorities.
Mark Judge

Sunday 24th

Chase Green, Enfield Town

Beside the embankment carrying the railway to the West of Chase Green there runs a footpath shaded by shrubs and trees of various sizes. This path was getting worn away and somewhat overgrown, so ECV undertook to cut back bramble and spread woodchip the length of the path.

LB Enfield Parks Dept had left several piles of woodchip alongside the path, and once most of the path was clear of obstructions, the task of barrowing began. Eight volunteers attended, and this turned out to be just about the right number to get the task completed in a day.

The completed path blended in well with the woodland’s edge habitat, and in the winter the surface will be drier and more appealing.
Steve Mathieson


Sunday 7th

Gough Park

Cancelled - As insufficient volunteers turned up to undertake this manual task (footbridge repairs) it will be carried out when the summer holiday season is over.

Sunday 21st

Hilly Fields

In sunny humid weather six Volunteers and a Dog tackled the colossal task of clearing a section of the brook at Hilly Fields.  With drag rakes and grappling hooks and rope we removed logs and mountains of twiggy silt which blocked the flow of water.  We retrieved three tyres, a suitcase, some clothing, a roadworks barrier and 'men at work' sign, tins, bottles, a golf ball and plastic of all sorts. We managed to clear several bottlenecks in the stream in the time available but there will be further work required later on, especially after the next dose of heavy rain.  We discussed the projected Water Garden planting scheme and will send representatives to a site meeting when this is arranged.  Loading all that rubbish into the Landrover was no mean feat.  Everyone had an energetic and fulfilling time today.
Jill Kidger


Sunday 4th

Grovelands Park

The footpath behind the cafeteria and the play area had become very overgrown and so narrow in places that it could only be negotiated in single file.  Six volunteers, including one new member, set out to remedy the problem. Litter was first removed and ECV would like to thank the cafeteria for allowing us to use their waste bins to dispose of this. Next, overhanging branches and brambles which were blocking out the light and preventing the path from drying out were cut back. A fallen tree had formed a barrier across a bend in the  path - the only way to negotiate it appeared to by limbo dancing under it. The main obstructing branches were removed but it was considered that the remainder of the fallen trunk also needed to be made safe. Our decision to do this after our lunch break proved to be a mistake! The weather turned whilst we had our (increasingly soggy) sandwiches and the hard part of sawing up the thicker parts of the tree were undertaken in a torrential downpour with cries of “can’t you go any faster” being heard from other volunteers. Once the tree had been disposed of, rain stopped play and 6 very wet volunteers called it a day.
Judy Mayo

Sunday 18th

Trent Park Nature Trail

Back to the Nature Trail to continue the fight against sycamores.

An area to the western side of the Nature Trail was originally one of the worst infested parts of the reserve, and ECV have recently concentrated their efforts here, Unfortunately, cutting trees down always proceeds quicker than stump removal, and as sycamores regenerate readily from cut stems, further attention is needed. As usual, this attention consisted of a combination of grubbing out stumps where possible, and, where not, cutting off the regrowth with billhooks and loppers.

Seven volunteers, including one first-timer, left their mark on the woods.
Steve Mathieson


Sunday 2nd

Gough Park

Repairs to sleeper bridge on path in Gough Park.
In hot sunny weather five volunteers removed three rotten sleepers from the bridge and replaced them with the two newer ones delived to the site by the farmer at Forty Hall farm.  We were grateful for the dappled shade of the woodland while working. 
This is a popular route with the public on foot or bikes and they expressed their appreciation of the result of our efforts.  (The sweet chestnuts along this route proved to be very good this year so go and collect some!)
Jill Kidger

Sunday 16th & 30th

Trent Park Water Gardens

With the aid of a grant from the English Heritage Lottery Fund, Enfield Council intend to restore the Water Gardens in the northern part of Trent Park to their former glory. Both ECV and the Wednesday group, Groundforce, agreed to devote two successive sessions each to assist in this endeavour. On our first visit, five ECV members pruned overhanging shrubs  which blocked the pathways, removed selected trees and shrubs which would block the intended overview of the three ponds and bridges. Logs and accumulated debris were removed from the ponds and the water course filling the overflow pond started to run rather more quickly than expected! As most of the trees in the garden were still holding onto their leaves, we expect this will need doing again. Finally to provide an instant splash of colour, a drift of bright cyclamen was planted and attracted favourable comments from park users. 

Our second visit saw an increase in volunteers to eight and included two new faces. The extra pairs of hands were very welcome as bulb planting was the name of the game that day.  The ground in the Water Garden is not blessed with much leaf mould covering and the main beds and steep banks are covered in very tough grass which grows on good old London clay. Bulb planting with mattocks became the norm! Snowdrops and native English bluebells were planted around the bases of deciduous trees and in dappled shade and large quantities of narcissus were planted in large drifts around the ponds. In all around 2,000 bulbs were planted that day and all eight volunteers agreed that we would come back next spring to check they had all come out!!

ECV 16 October 2011

Judy Mayo (pictures Mark Judge)


Sunday 13th

Montague Recreation Ground, Edmonton / Trent Park

Today’s task was originally scheduled for Montagu Rec in Edmonton, but a failure of communication prevented any work from taking place there.
Fortunately, with only five volunteers attending, there were sufficient car spaces available for a mass decamp to our fallback site, the Trent Park Nature Trail. Once there, the struggle against sycamore continued, with previously cut stumps either having their regrowth removed, or being grubbed out altogether.
Parts of the woods are now quite open, with ground flora such as foxgloves and tutsan visible, and, in the spring, bulbs will no doubt be grateful for the increased light, while the wait for native tree colonisation continues.
Steve Mathieson

Sunday 27th

Trent Park, Shaw's Wood

On Sunday 7 able men and one very able woman (leaderine) spent 5 hours clearing rhododendron from Shaws wood in Trent Park.
We also dug out several deep bush and tree roots in the area to clear the ground for native species. We cleared the area around the two gates and unearthed the original fence long since broken down by the force of Rhodedendron growth exposing the sign post fully.

Rhododendron is not a native species, it was introduced in the 19th century as a cover and lair for game birds.  Game birds and huntsmen love it but native species of plants and trees do not as its roots are poisonous and reduce or even halt the growth of anything else.

It was a sunny day and a great time was had by all. We welcomed Chris a new member as well as all the regulars.

Well done us!

ECV 27 November 2011

Mark Judge


Sunday 11th

Whitewebbs Golf Course

The scheduled task was to remove reeds from the brook where the 10th and 11th fairways in Whitewebbs Golf Course  cross it. However, the numbers of golfers playing and their sometimes wayward shots  called for a change of plan for safety reasons! The five intrepid volunteers regrouped further upstream to revisit the site of the fallen sycamore previously visited on 29th May in very different weather conditions. In drizzle and a very keen wind, dressed in waders and wellies, branches and a large accumulation of leaves were removed from the area to allow the water to flow more easily round this very large obstruction. Attemptts to remove some of the lesser parts of the tree itself to widen the channel were to no avail = it needs more than a bowsaw to deal with that monster. When leaks developed in the waders, we called it a day on 2012 tasks but we will return!!!

ECV 11 December 2011

Judy Mayo