Sunday, 4 August 2013

Auckland Way - Community Conservation - EVENT

My previous blog post detailed information on what Durham County Council had planned for this morning (4th August 2013) along Auckland Way. A two hour session (10am-12pm) was held to try and remove a lot of the rosebay willowherb weed that has taken over large areas of the verges.

I walked Melba along this section of the path yesterday and thought two hours would be nowhere near enough time - the plant really has taken over.

I rode up to the meeting area about 11ish so I could do at least an hour's work. I wore jeans and a long sleeved bicycle jersey in order to avoid being nettled. That worked, but it was a pretty hot morning.

Upon arriving I was asked to fill in a short questionnaire about how I found out about the event, preferred communication from the council (Twitter, website, leaflets, newspaper etc) and my reasons for volunteering. As I said in my last post, I commute along here a majority of the week so it felt right to give something back.

Full trailer of pulled rosebay
I was reassured my bike would be looked after so I locked it to a fence behind the big council van and information displays and set off down the path to find the group. I was given some heavy duty gloves so I could grab the weed with no fear of being nettled or cutting my hands on thorns. The group (around 12 in total) had filled the trailer by the time I'd arrived so the plan was to pull the weed out and lie it at the bottom of the embankment.

Where the group had been working before the wasps got angry

I set about working about half way down the bank, which was quite steep. After around 10 minutes I felt something sharp on my neck. I thought I'd been nettled.
Another two minutes more of pulling weeds and it was apparent I'd disturbed a wasps' nest as they were swarming about and started stinging me and another gentleman. One flew into his glove and he received a few stings on his wrist. I was stung on the wrist, neck, ear and one lodged itself in my hair and started to sting my head. This was hurting quite a lot and it was difficult to scramble up the embankment swatting wasps away.

We moved a lot further down the path to an area where there isn't as many large bushes, trees or wasps and set to work again. There is a bench overlooking a nice view here so it was a good area to clean up. I was hesitant after the wasp incident but I soon got back into it. We worked for about another 30 minutes before packing up and heading back to the meeting point.

Pulling the rosebay out

You can see the bench in the distance with the rosebay on both sides of the path

The rosebay patch we were going to tackle

After we'd finished - looks much better!
When we had all gathered back at the meeting point I grabbed my water bottle and had a much needed drink. There had been talk about a cake being cut but I thought it was in jest. But I was wrong and I was offered a slice of cake, which I thought was a very nice touch. Everyone loves cake!

I was given a brochure which contained more information on the council countryside service and what they do, as well as a leaflet telling me about volunteering. I'd do it again in the future as the staff were helpful, friendly and very knowledgeable.

If you would like to find out some more you can:

  • Phone: 0191 372 9103

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