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January to December 2013


Sunday 8th, 20th and February 17th

Oakwood Park

As part of ECV’s work to assist in implementing the Council’s Higher Level Stewardship plan, three hedge laying sessions in Oakwood Park were planned for the early part of 2013.  So on 6th January, 7 volunteers, including a local resident who answered the Council’s “call to help” notices in the park, viewed with dismay the first stretch of quite mature trees which were due to be laid. Hedge laying is a skilled countryside craft which is very satisfying when the stems of the trees to be laid to form the new hedge are between 2 and 4 inches in diameter. However, the first section of trees here were twice that size! To lay the tree down to form the new hedge requires the stem to be reduced in thickness near the base to enable it to be easily bent over. The majority of this first session was taken up with removing excessive side growth from the trees, using some of this material to form stakes which support the laid stems (known as pleachers) and finally laying some of the monsters to form the “new” Oakwood Park hedge. 

The second session on 20th January unfortunately had to be cancelled due to London’s first major snowfall this year.

Five volunteers returned on 17th February to continue the work. This time the sun was shining but the ground was a quagmire. Not what you really need when most of the work means you are kneeling down! This time armed with felling axe and large Yorkshire billhooks the three men continued with the battle against the monsters whilst the female members of the group slipped round the side of a large oak tree and started laying another section of hedge made up of field maple and blackthorn with stems which were of the optimum size. By the end of the day the two sections had been linked round the large oak tree so a decent run of hedge can now be seen.

We will return in the autumn to carry on the work as there is still lots more to lay but hopefully we started with the worst stretch and we are all now much more experienced.

ECV 6 January 2013

ECV 17 February 2013

Judy Mayo


Sunday 3rd


This was a return to the ditch alongside North Enfield Cricket Club's field, which we visited in October last year.This time, unsurprisingly, the ditch was much wetter, but this did not deter the five ECV workers and the two cricket club members who mucked in.
There were still some fallen and overhanging branches to be cleared from the course, but the main job was dredging. As more mud was removed, and a couple of mole drains cleared, the flow steadily increased and poured off down the steep side drain to join Turkey Brook. This work not only improves drainage on the cricket field and eases the recovery of boundaries (oddly, we found golf balls, but no cricket balls) but creates a seasonal water feature with habitat for wildlife..
ECV is making a return visit on 24th March, but such good progress was made that extra tasks nearby might be added (no, we will not be rolling the pitch!). Perhaps the ant meadow might get some attention.
Steve Mathieson

Sunday 17th

Oakwood Park Trent Park Nature Trail

See above.


Sunday 3rd

Conway Recreation Ground

On a dry chilly March day six volunteers were made very welcome by the Friends of Conway Rec. In rough ground, at the rear of the tennis courts, a field maple was planted. An ornamental cherry was planted beside the path running through the recreation ground to add some colour. In the meantime, those with muscles, sawed down a section of old established x Cupressocyparis leylandii and mattocked out the roots (which came out surprisingly easily). The Friends intend to plant up the space with native shrubs in due course. In the afternoon we planted three silver birch in the area by the tennis courts adding compost and “fairy dust” (actually mycorrhizal fungus rooting medium) to give them a fighting chance, We finished the day with a warming drink supplied by the Friends group in the clubhouse. We look forward to collaborating with the group again on any future work they want doing.
Jill Kidger

Sunday 24th


CANCELLED due to the weather.


Sunday 14th & 28th


At a Top Secret location, somewhere in Enfield, ECV began work on their first ever otter holt.

Holt is the word for an otter’s lair; they do not construct holts themselves, but will make use of sheltered hollows on riverbanks: under tree roots, say, or in dense vegetation. However, it has been found that the construction of artificial holts is a major aid to the recolonisation of waterways by otters. After decades of national decline, otters have begun a gradual recovery, and are now present over much of the River Lea. In accordance with their High Level Stewardship scheme, London Borough of Enfield has identified areas on tributary streams of the Lea where new holts could encourage otters to extend their range.

There are several designs of man-made holts, and after consideration ECV decided on a hybrid plan (further extemporised on the day) that would require the Council to provide plastic piping, logs, pebbles and corrugated composite roofing material. Having previously scouted a suitably obscure site, the volunteers lugged wood, stones and roofing to the stream bank and picked the precise spot to start digging. Soon the air was thick with the smell of garlic, as the surrounding bed of ramsons was thoroughly trampled. The floor of the holt was to be about one square metre and the height about 50cm. On the sloping bank, the rear of the construction was dug to nearly half a metre, and the front wall hardly at all, meaning that half the holt was to be underground, and half built up. At the end of the first day the five volunteers laid the first level of logs around the excavation, and spread the layer of shingle which was to be the otters’ luxury flooring.

A fortnight later five volunteers again visited the site, this time collecting the plastic piping which makes the otters’ entrances and exits. Two lengths of it were cut to stretch from the front of the holt to the stream’s edge, so channels had to be dug to bury most of the piping out of sight. Meanwhile the log cabin walls of the holt were built with a stake-and-slot construction. The roofing was then added, and the whole thing covered over with ivy, holly, brambles and other loose vegetation, to hide it from human eyes.

All in all, the volunteers were well pleased with their efforts: whether otters will be remains to be seen.
Steve Mathieson

ECV Otter Holt


Sunday 12th

Trent Park Nature Trail

A large sleeper bridge in the Nature trail was in desperate need of repair. The bridge, consisting of 6 sleepers, unusually lying parallel to the ditch had collapsed on one side. This was due to ground erosion beneath one of the sleeper bearers. Six volunteers dismantled the collapsed bridge and were able reuse all eight sleepers. It was decided to rebuild the bridge with the sleepers crossing the ditch at right angles supported on bearers on either bank. The bearers were dug in and levelled on each side of the ditch, sitting them on firm ground. The 6 sleepers were then nailed and staked in place. Hopefully the bridge will last for a good few years.

ECV 12 May 2013

Judy Mayo

Sunday 26th

Whitewebbs, Mile and a Quarter North - 25th Anniversary task

Six volunteers turned out on the 25th anniversary task for ECV. The task chosen represented what ECV is about. Proper managed clearance of larger species benefit ground cover and since 1998 ECV have regularly been keeping the shrubs and self-seeded ash at bay on the Mile and a Quarter footpath allowing wildflowers to flourish. It seems as if we have succeeded as 9 different varieties were identified that day (see photos).

ECV 26 May 2013

Twenty-five years of voluntary work did not go unrecognised. The volunteers enjoyed two cakes, one supplied by the council  and one made by Jill (a volunteer) representing our latest venture, an otter holt, plus a celebratory drink. It must have seemed strange for those out for a Sunday stroll in the sunshine to see a helium filled balloon flying above the trees and people partying on a footpath! Here's to the next 25 years.
Judy Mayo


Sunday 9th

Trent Park

Extension to boardwalk on path parallel to the Piccadilly Line track in Trent Park.

Four of us located railway sleepers deposited near the site by the Council. Two were barrowed to actual extension site. Having taken measurements of existing slats  two of us collected the planks needed to make new ones, measured and sawed them to correct lengths .  Two of us worked on positioning sleepers to take account of the curve in the path and also attempted to re-channel the flood waters from a  spring presently engulfing the path and footbridge further along the route. (The public were complaining to us about the state of this area.)

It took some time to sink sleepers on edge into the rock-hard ground and to link them smoothly with the existing boardwalk.  Slats were nailed into place. Walkers were pleased t use the resulting extension.  Two sleepers remain near the site for a future task.  NB the flooded footbridge and path merit emergency attention.
Jill Kidger

Sunday 23rd


Six volunteers made a return visit to the old orchard to clear brambles, saplings and overhanging branches to prevent the ant hills being in the shade. Volunteers noticed, with regret, that many of the hills appeared to be dormant or had been partly demolished by outside interference. Whilst ECV will do what we can to”help” this special ant colony, by trying to give them access to the natural light they need, we also need others to respect the special formation of hills.

Judy Mayo


Sunday 7th


Having built an otter holt to the same design a couple of weeks previously (see 14th April) ECV might have expected these two tasks to run relatively smoothly, but a location selected for seclusion presented its own particular problems. This time the holt was sited between two trees, and the stony ground along with the lattice of thick roots meant that mattocks had to be used for most of the digging. With only three volunteers on the first day, it was hard going, but the chamber was excavated, one layer of logs laid down and the pebble floor put in.

Two weeks later six volunteers, including one first-timer, attended, and progress was accelerated. The presence of tree roots and the steepness of the bank constrained the position of the access pipes, and digging was again difficult. Just downstream from the holt a tree had fallen across the water, and, with its accumulated debris, was under way to construct a dam. While some worked on the holt, a couple of volunteers dismantled the dam to improve water flow and access along the stream.

Finally the last adjustments were made to the pipes and the log walls, the roofing was put on, and the holt was ready for its brushwood camouflage. Another shelter was available to any passing otters.

ECV 7 July 2013

Steve Mathieson

Sunday 21st


See 7th July above.

ECV 21 July 2013


Sunday 4th


Boardwalk construction in Grovelands park
This long established section of boardwalk takes a pleasing route through a wooded section of the park giving the user easy access and a glimpse of woodland life within its urban surrounding. It also has the function of keeping walkers on a set route, thus protecting the woodland floor and its natural inhabitants from human disturbance. 
The day starts off sunny and due to a popular demand for holidays by fellow ECV members, the work force only comprises of two but keen volunteers. The task in hand is to increase the length of boardwalk in the parks wooded area. After much huffing and puffing to position the two railway sleepers as the base to the boardwalk, sawing the timber planks and hammering in excessive amounts of nails, the new section soon takes shape.  
With the satisfaction of a job well done and another task completed for ECV, the two weary but contented workers head off home!
Simon Pegg

Sunday 18th

Trent Park Nature Trail

Six volunteers continued the fight to rid the Nature Trail of the invasive sycamores. Regrowth we were pleased to note is slowing, so attention turned to cutting down some of the larger trees next to the path adjacent to the university grounds. For one member, this was her first experience of felling trees and it proved to an enjoyable one! The larger branches were made into stakes which will be used at the hedge laying in Oakwood Park later this year and the trunks will be used for path edging in the Nature Trail itself.
Judy Mayo


Sunday 1st

Trent Park Nature Trail

A different six volunteers including two new recruits once again ventured into the Nature Trail. This time, however, we had been asked to remove the invasive brambles from the area opposite the Animal Rescue café. In the spring the Nature Trail has a beautiful display of native bluebells but the dense bramble cover can mask this. Ensuring that everyone had suitable gloves for the task, the brambles were pulled up, ensuring where possible the roots were thoroughly removed. Brambles have that annoying habit of sprouting twice as much from any piece remaining! This is a back breaking task and after lunch four of the group decided to straighten out the kinks by hauling tree trunks (see previous report) around other parts of the Trail to define the paths.
Judy Mayo

Sunday 15th



ECV 15 Sept 2013


Sunday 29th

Conway Recreation Ground

In breezy sunny weather Friends of Conway Rec joined 5 of us. Further work on removing leylandii conifers from the side of the tennis courts was the chief  task of the day for ECV.

Eight conifers were lopped down and their very large and difficult stumps and roots were mattocked out.  

In addition the new planting of deciduous native trees and shrubs in the area previously cleared by ECV in March were weeded. The established Crataegus crus-galli ornamental trees had rootstock suckers removed. 

Brushwood and debris was barrowed away to a spot outside the gates for removal by the council and subsequent chipping.

ECV 29 Sept 2013

Jill Kidger


Sunday 13th

Hilly Fields


Sunday 27th

Whitewebbs (Mile and a Quarter)


ECV 27 October 2013



Sunday 10th

Oakwood Park

Today the volunteers restarted the hedgelaying which had been left off on 17th February this year. Hedgelaying should only be done in the winter: the trees need to be dormant to avoid introducing disease due to the violent hacking and sawing it entails. And of course, any sort of tree work is best avoided during the bird-nesting season.

Today seven volunteers, including one first time ECV worker, laid a good section of hedge, with sufficient stems to hope for a lot of bushy regrowth.

ECV 10 November 2013

Steve Mathieson

Sunday 24th

Oakwood Park

Continuation of hedgelaying. Four volunteers. See 10th November.


Sunday 8th

Oakwood Park

Continuation of hedgelaying. Four volunteers. See 10th November.