Posted by: KimBoland | September 15, 2015

Scattered showers and ragwort flowers : August’s volunteer blog by Ranger Emma

During August, our team of volunteers have worked extremely hard cutting back forests of bracken and pulling up fields of ragwort, along with beach litter picks and some great days out away from Gower.

The month started with a work day at Cwm Ivy to remove bracken from the Tor. Here the volunteers carefully hand cut and gathered the bracken to encourage the growth of the wildflowers on the grassy slopes. We were surprised to find so many species of flowers among the bracken, along with many grasshoppers, frogs, toads and butterflies. We were treated to wonderful views from the Tor and great weather, as we returned for further work days here later in the month too.

We ended the first week with a brilliant day of litter picking on the wonderful Lucas Bay. Here we had a big group who worked tirelessly to gather rubbish from the rocky shoreline, and they were pleased to cover the whole length of the beach.

Later that week Claire, Kathryn and I attended a scything course provided by the Wildlife Trust of South West Wales. We had a great time learning all about the traditional skill of scything, with the aim of teaching our volunteers and using scything to manage grass, bracken and scrub as part of the ‘Clean Cut Gower’ initiative.

We started the next week at Pennard working down the East cliff gathering ragwort flowers along the sides of the main tracks and bridleways. We went back another couple of times during the month and filled the trailer to the top on each occasion. However we will need further work days in the area to gather the rest.

Dave's bouquet of Pennard ragwort

Dave’s bouquet of Pennard ragwort

The Wednesday group enjoyed glorious sunshine as they removed old boardwalks from Three Cliffs Bay. In the afternoon they started the work of hand clearing bracken from Nott Hill. The Saturday group had started to tackle this job at the beginning of the month. Here we are hoping to encourage the growth of the colourful heather, which has become overgrown by bracken fronds. Our lunch was taken by the bench which gave us stunning views over the beautiful bay below.

We ended the week with a trip out to Penbryn in Ceredigion to help Claire’s team clear bracken. Here we used brushcutters, and gave some of the volunteers our first scythe training session. The group had a great time scything, despite the plants being very tough and woody. We were all surprised what an efficient tool they can be.

The highlight of the third week of August was our ‘Volunteer Big Day Out’ to Llanerchaeron. As a thank you to the midweek volunteers, Claire and I took everyone to visit the House and farm, where we were provided with three guided tours. Claire showed us round the farm and introduced us to the livestock, including the lovely calf called Grace. Next we dodged a heavy downpour as we had a brilliant tour of the grand house and it’s collection of curiosities. After lunch we had time for a garden tour, where we saw the vast array of apple trees and beautiful flower and herb beds. And last but by no means least, we enjoyed drinks and delicious cakes in the café before departing.

The volunteers finished the month with a rather soggy day litter picking Rhossili bay,  a windy day litter picking Three Cliffs Bay, and a sunny day cutting and burning bracken at Cwm Ivy.

Bracken ready to burn

Bracken ready to burn

Well the weather has been predictably unpredictable this month, but we are hoping for a more settled and sunny September. I would really like to thank the volunteers for all their hard work this month, as they have all kept smiling whilst battling the weather and challenging jobs.




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