A Southwood task – behind the scenes

As a change to my usual blog post, I thought I’d answer the frequently asked question, “so what does a ranger actually do?” Well today I arrived at 8:45am at Ash Lock Cottage to load up the tools and kit for the Southwood Woodland task, taking care to throw in extra motivational chocolate biscuits.

At 10:30am I met the volunteers on site enjoying the Spring sunshine, where we set to work clearing invasive willow from the main meadow glade. It was great to see everyone get stuck in and help out a new volunteer. Louise was suspiciously excited by using the imaginatively named ‘saw-on-a-stick’ to cut some higher branches. Meanwhile Mary enlisted helpers to walk a willow log around in circles to snap the extensive roots, a perfect plan till Paul pointed out that as they rotated it clockwise the corkscrew effect would obviously drive the log into the ground. After a ranger-style steak and pepper cooked lunch, Michael, Tim and Mike helped us turn in the fire and tidy up.

After everyone had left by 3pm I checked on all the entrances to update the posters and see what tools I would need next time to de-wobble the noticeboards. I’m very lucky to have volunteers who litter-pick the woodland, so I simply clear the Kennels Lane lay-by with leaping in ditches to clear 5 bags today. Next I chatted to one of our neighbours to follow up a report of unauthorised tree felling, then updated Rushmoor Borough Council. Finally back to Ash Lock Cottage at 5pm to unload kit, type up our records and wash up the cups – all fueled by an essential cup of tea. A hectic but very productive day, and great to see so many families, joggers and walkers enjoying a sunny Southwood Woodland.

Clearing invasive willow by bench

Clearing invasive willow by bench

New view from bench after a hard days work

New view from bench after a hard days work

Lunch - ranger style

Lunch – ranger style

Ranger Stuart




About blackwatervalleycountryside

The Blackwater Valley is located on the borders of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire and runs for approximately 30km from the source near Aldershot, northwards to Swallowfield. At its confluence it joins the rivers Whitewater and Loddon. The Loddon eventually flows into the River Thames near Reading. Work in the Blackwater Valley is co-ordinated by the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership on behalf of the local authorities that border the Valley. Despite being surrounded by urban development the Valley provides an important green corridor for local residents As well as the Blackwater Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a small part of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI, three nature reserves within the Valley catchment and many other areas have been recognised for their ecological importance. The local planning authorities covering the Valley have designated 31 other areas as ‘Wildlife Sites’.
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