Thursday, 30 December 2010

Atmospheric March Haigh

It felt very atmospheric walking around on the moors today. While I was out I didn't meet another person until I was almost back in Marsden and it was all very still with no wind to move anything.
These photos are taken from the bank of March Haigh Reservoir with the mist swirling about. The reservoir was also still frozen, but starting to thaw out and had lots of cracks in it.
Hopefully it will be as pleasant on New Years Day for the first guided walk of the year. Meet the National Trust staff and volunteers at Marsden railway station at 10am for a pleasant walk to start the year!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Natural Christmas Decorations

Our exhibition room is looking a bit festive now after some help from the Kirklees Youth Offending Team. For our final session of the year we went out to collect some natural materials, holly, ivy and the like, to create some festive wreaths and decorations.

We made a few wreaths with everyone getting a bit creative, recycled paper chains and snowflakes, and some glittery fircones and other berries hung around the room.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A White December Day

It's a lovely winter scene in Marsden, just right for December 1st! Looking out of the office, there is just a lot of white that can be seen as the snow comes down thick and fast. No one has ventured out onto the moors today, and everyone is just staying snug in the office. Here are a couple of photos of the office to show just how snowy it's getting here...

Saturday, 27 November 2010

A Walk up to March Haigh

The Kirklees Youth Offenders carried out a patrol of part of the moors for their task this week. The walk took us up to March Haigh reservoir and back down via Eastergate Bridge. There was very little snow out up on the moors, but it was still very cold. However, the bright sunshine did have a bit of warmth in it.

There were plenty of animal tracks to be spotted where there was snow.

Icicles on a rock at March Haigh reservoir.

Looking up to Buckstones from the reservoir.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Surveying the Gully Blocking

The survey team has suddenly gone from being a regular group of 4 volunteers to about 12 volunteer each week. Amazing! This means that so much more of the work that has taken place around the estate can be monitored for progress.

As There are now so many people the group now splits up to tackle different areas. One of the groups have recently been studying the effects that the gully blocking has had. Gully blocking is done to prevent water from draining off the moors, and taking some of the peat with it. We want to keep the water on the moors to prevent the peat from drying out and encouraging more plants to grow and keep the peat stable.

The gullies are blocked up with dams with the idea that water will build up behind the dams, with plants then growing in these areas which were previously bare.
This photo clearly shows the line of the gully with the water in it and being held back by the dams which are made with heather bales.

Seed Planting at Highfields

A group of adults from Gateway to Care in Huddersfield have been helping out with our moorland conservation from their centre at Highfields. They have been busy sowing heather and cottongrass seeds which they will look after and nurture over the winter, and then we can hopefully have a great day out next year planting them onto the moors.

The group have done nearly 500 pots so far and are hoping to do more. Fantastic! It could be a long day out on the moors planting them all!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Moorland Treasure Hunting

A group of teenagers from Oldham on a project called MEND came along to go for stomp over the moors. The project helps to encourage young people to do more exercise and eat more healthily. We were going out for a session of geo-caching - using a GPS to hunt for boxes hidden in various places. The first box of 'treasure' was up rather a steep long hill, but that didn't put people off from running up to try to be the first to find the box.

Despite some people getting wet feet and rather muddy, the enthusiasm never dwindled and there was always the rush to be the first to find the boxes. The walk took us up onto the edges of the moors with fabulous views over the rest of the estate and down the valley, into some woods and finally back along the canal.

I'm sure there would have been a few snores in the minibus on the way back to Oldham from some exhausted people!

All Greased Up

The last session that the Kirklees Youth Offenders came for ended up getting rather messy!

One of our activites for the day was making bird feeders - by the end everyone was covered in grease and there were seeds everywhere.

We even had a fat and seed star sculpted, wonderfully exhibited here. In the end it did get broken up and made into more manageable sized fat balls.

All the bird feeders we made will be for sale at our stall at the Christmas Lights turn on in Marsden, on Saturday 4th December. Come and buy one to give our feathery friends some extra tasty treats to keep them going over the winter.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Volunteer Moorland Excursion

A large group of the Marsden Moor Estate volunteers were taken on a magical tour of the estate last weekend. It was a good chance for people to have a bit of a social excursion and see other volunteers that they don't perhaps see very often. It was also a chance for people that don't regularly get out onto the moors, or for new volunteers that don't know as much about what work we are doing, to get out and have a look.
The trip went up to Buckstones at the north end of the estate, looking at the gully blocking and heather spreading and to the south of the estate at White Moss to look at the flag laying and the gully blocking with heather bales. Only 2 people were lost down a cleverly hidden hole, but they were rescued.
Although it was a bit chilly, it was a good day out.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Fencing in the Wind and Rain

The work party this week were out doing some fence repairs. The Tuesday group were up on Birk Moss, looking down over the Wessenden Valley, repairing the fence plots up there.

The fences were put up several years ago to keep sheep off parts of the moor to allow the vegetation to re-grow and prevent the sheep from causing too much erosion.

Some of the fences have been damaged, some of it caused by the snow last winter, and there are now places where sheep can get into the plots.

With the volunteers out in force, some of the plots have now been mended and should now be sheep proof. With the weather turning for the worse after lunch, everyone arrived back at the office looking and feeling very wet!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Wallaby on the Moors

You may expect to find sheep and quite a few different birds and you might occasionally spot the odd hare, but apparently there has also been a wallaby spotted on the moors! It was in the Huddersfield Examiner this week that someone had spotted it twice at the weekend on Marsden Moor, so I thought I would share it here as well.

No one from the National Trust has spotted it yet...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

News Flash!! Health Walks are now twice a month!

The health walks that currently run on the 4th Wednesday of each month are now going to be running on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month. With more volunteers able to help out we can run these walks more frequently. Now there is no excuse not to come out on some and get your dose of fresh air and chatter!

Walks meet at 10.45 at the Marsden Moor Estate Exhibition Room (Station Road), and we are back there at approximately 12.30pm. See you there!

Footpathing in the Rain

The volunteer work party was out as usual this week. The Monday group had fabulous sunshine while working on Close Moss doing some fence repairs.
The Tuesday group were rather worse off, working in the rain on the Blake Clough path. The task for the day was to try to prevent so much water running over the path and to get rid of the deep muddy patches. We made a good start, but there is plenty more work to be done - particularly is there is a fair bit of rain that comes down in these parts!

Wellies stuck on the Fence

The Kirklees Youth Offenders have been busy nailing wellies to the fence! They added a new feature to the Recycled Wildlife Garden in the form of wellies that I rescued from the skip. We made some holes in the bottom to allow for drainage, nailed them on to the fence and the potted them up with spring bulbs and winter pansies for some instant colour.

The two empty wall baskets at the front of the office now have flowers in, and keep your eye out for the mosaic picture that will soon be making its appearance in the exhibition room.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Feed the Birds

If you want to help our little feathered friends over the winter months, then why not make a bird feeder for your garden? Come along to the Estate Office on Friday 29th October, between 11am and 2pm to make your own bird feeder. They cost £1 each to make, and we have a few different varieties for you to try out.

If you can't make it along, why not do it yourself at home? It's easy! You can mix soft lard with seeds, such as sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet, and stuff into any sort of container. You could use yogurt pots, pine cones or small logs with holes drilled in and stuff the holes with fat - make sure you put it in the fridge to harden before you hang it up. You can string monkey nuts together and hang those up somewhere in your garden.

They're not hard to make, and you'll be surprised at how they really do attract the birds!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Marsden Jazz Festival 2010

Marsden was alive with jazz over the weekend of the 9th and 10th October with the annual Jazz Festival taking place. We had our usual National Trust stall there, and this year we had a seed planting activity too. People could come and sow either heather, bilberry or cotton grass seed in a recycled plant pot and then take it away to nurture it over the winter. Next year we will be having an event to plant all these out on the moors once they are big enough.
We also were selling tickets for the duck race, and as usual, all 1000 tickets got sold. The onlookers also got to give a good cheer when one of the volunteers took a splash in the river while trying to fish out the ducks. Hooray!!
We sold a fair few of the plants from the yard as well, altogether a rather successful weekend for us.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Birds in the Wildlife Corner

Our new wildlife garden, which doesn't have a huge amount in it yet, is already attracting birds. Several bird feeders made by the youth offending team were put up a little while ago, and today we saw a number of different sorts of tits feeding from them. We managed to catch this little chap on camera!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Eastergate after heavy rain

After the heavy rain at the beginning of October, this is what the river at Eastergate looked like - more like a raging torrent than a babbling brook!

Friday, 1 October 2010

John Muir Certificate Presentation

The group from the Oldham Youth Offending Team that completed their John Muir Award in the summer holidays came back for their certificate presentation. The plan had been to have a walk out onto the moors and have the presentation taking place at the top of Pule Hill, but due to the persistant heavy rain it ended up taking place in the exhibition room!

Despite this, it was great to get the first lot of certificates for the John Muir Award and hopefully there will be more groups in the near future.

Getting Muddy Planting Cottongrass

A number of people from the Adult Services team came and helped us plant cotton grass on White Moss. The weather, for a change, was actually rather good. Despite it starting off a bit misty it soon cleared up and we were working in some nice warm sunshine.

The day wasn't without it's mishaps as we got a welly stuck in the peat, and shortly after having got the boot free then the whole person got stuck in the peat. Luckily, we managed to save him before he sank below the surface.

As the group was working so hard, all the cotton grass plugs were in the ground by lunchtime, so after lunch we had a walk along the path to look at some cotton grass that had been planted last year and to see how much it had grown. We also looked at how deep the peat was in one of the gullies which everyone found very interesting. Some hard work and a good day out for all!

Heather Seed Collecting with 100 children

We had two days out on the moors with pupils from Marsden Infant and Juniors, and Slaithwaite Juniors collecting heather seeds. The seeds were being collected so that we can sow them - which will happen at the Jazz Festival next weekend - they will be nurtured and then can be planted out on the moors to help with our regeneration.

With about 150 pupils and helpers altogether we managed to collect several tubs full of seeds which is brilliant.

The children seemed to have a good time, bouncing about in the heather, getting a bit dirty and we also found some interesting wildlife. There was this lovely caterpillar, along with some beetles and lots of spiders and spiderwebs.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Digging out the rhodies

A large group from Groundwork Oldham came over to Marsden Moor to help us dig up some of our rhododendrons. We went up to Round Hill, in glorious sunshine, to try to get rid of the ones that have sprouted up around there.
We are trying to get a rhododendron-free moor, as they can rather take over and stop more desirable plants from growing. They are also a non-native species, introduced from the Himalayas in the nineteenth century, so should not naturally be found on the moors here.
With about 25 of us altogether, we spread out over the plot and dug out all the ones we came across, hopefully getting them all. After admiring the views, we dragged our plants back to the vans and everyone was pleased with a good hours' work!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Tyres for Wildlife

We have been trying to make our office a bit more wildlife friendly and to brighten it up a bit too. The Kirklees Youth Offending Team have again been hard at work. This weekend we were recycling tyres that had been taken off the moors after they had been dumped there. Usually we have to pay to have them removed so recycling them is good for the finances too.

We spray painted the tyres in bright colours, and then sprayed on wildlife designs from templates that we had made. The tyres were piled up and then planted with wild flowers. Although the flowers don't look so attractive at the moment, hopefully they will encourage more bees and butterflies in the spring.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Waterbutts and Worms

With thanks to funding from the Kirklees Youth Offending Team, we have been able to spend some money on making our office grounds a bit more attractive, wildlife friendly and a bit more environmentally friendly too.

We have bought a wormery which will help us to compost our small amount of kitchen waste, as well as getting some top quality liquid fertiliser and compost which the plant group will happily use.

We have two new waterbutts which will be great for saving a bit of water, despite there generally being plenty of it in Marsden!

And we have also started to make a herb garden and will soon be making a small wildlife garden, using recyled materials which will hopefully attract a few more butterflies and bees. Some super work being done by the Youth Offending Team!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Stream Dipping at Eastergate

Every Thursday morning in August has seen us Stream Dipping at Eastergate. We have run drop-in sessions for people to come along and discover what is living in the water here. Despite the weather, which wasn't particularly summery for any of the sessions, plenty of people came along, most of them getting very wet!

There were a fair number of different creatures living in the stream, lots of nymphs of various species, water beetles and the odd greater water boatman among other things.

Everyone had a great time getting stuck in trying to find the creatures, and also had a brilliant time splashing about in the water.

And although the weather was a bit damp it didn't put people off their classic British picnics!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Wild Food and Health Walks

Today's Health Walk was Wild Food themed - Yum!! There were 13 of us out for the stroll on a rather nice Wednesday morning. We found plenty of different berries as well as a few different mushrooms. Blackberries and bilberries were found the most, and there were plenty of purple fingers and lips. There were also lots of other berries about and with help from an ID book, people were able to discover what they were and what to do with them.

The next health walk will be on Wednesday 22nd September - come along to our exhibition room for a walk themed on Trees.

Friday, 20 August 2010

John Muir Award

This past week, a small group of us from the Oldham Youth Offending Service have been working towards our John Muir Award - this is what we were doing for the week.

•On the first day when we arrived. We went for a very long walk and did some geocaching (aka treasure hunting) on our walk we stopped to do a couple of sound maps which involves drawing out everything you can hear as a picture

•Second Day - We went up to the hills to do some surveying and navigating to find our way round if we ever got lost in the cloud we were in. the weather wasn’t very good… at all… so we got a bit wet.. Sorry not a bit, a lot!

•On our third day we did some brutal, hard, intense, punishing, tiring work. Which we really enjoyed.. Until Kibby threw a bucket at me! We went out to the moors to plant some cotton grass and then later on we spread 3 tons of heather brash! We also got a bit stuck in the peat!

On our fourth day we went out to the woods and tried to learn some bush craft, while being eaten alive by midges, which was really annoying! We built a shelter and made fire without matches or a lighter.. And we boiled water in a paper cup, amazing isn't it? We caught fish as well, we made a trap out of a single plastic bottle which some how worked. We also did some map reading while waiting for the fish, we learnt how to leave no trace in the countryside, smashing right?