Claycart Mission – Search and destroy Laurel and Robina

Our Thursday task this week was based at Claycart were there have been invasive species sneaking their way out over time, so we set our volunteers on them !





First off we started removing the Robina, which took us a fair amount of time as the roots were a lot bigger than expected.





But of course we managed.






Whilst doing thiIMG_4055s we found someone had been celebrating Christmas early.








After we had cleared the Robina we set our sights on the laurel that had grown a bit unruly and dragged it closer to the path so that we can come back on another day and pop it all through the chipper.

A special thanks to our team today Dharma, Matt, John, Eric and Mike. It was a successful mission.

Assistant Ranger Bobbie

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Hawley Meadows Power Planting

Mid-autumn is the perfect time to sow wildflower seeds and that’s just what we have been doing here at Blackwater Valley.

At the beginning of October, I was joined by BVC Trustees Bernard and Chris and volunteers Edmund, Jeremy and Paul at Hawley Meadows. We kicked off a season of wildflowers by planting Devil’s Bit Scabious, A pretty and vulnerable wildflower suitable for the type of grassland we were working on. Grown from a single plant (that Steve Bailey saved from a now non-existent meadow) into 130 plants, we had our work cut out for us.

First, we had to prepare the ground by strimming a 50cm x 50cm patch in order to reduce the grass thickness. Then the volunteers used hefty spades to dig up the turf in that patch. This was tough going as the sun was beating down and the grass was very thick. They then churned up the soil and finally planted between 2 to 4 Devil’s Bit Scabious plants within that space. We moved up and down Long and Rushy Meadow, planting as we went, to distribute the plants well and give them a good chance of thriving.

HM Devils bit scabious

Devil’s Bit Scabious planted.

Once the back-breaking work was finished we sowed some wildflower seeds on the disturbed ground along the new path and within the patches we had dug. The seeds, collected by Steve and Paul, included Great Burnet, Betony and Bird’s-Foot Trefoil.

Thank you very much to Bernard, Chris, Edmund, Jeremy and Paul for your help. I can’t wait to come back in June and hopefully see the plants flowering. If you would like to join me then please follow the link to find Hawley Meadows and the location of the new plants.

Acting Ranger Jenny

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Riding the Hogs Back

Last week, when we hired the roboflail again, Bobbie and I headed out to mow the remaining slopes and road verges on the Surrey Hills, which straddle the Hogs Back south of Tongham.

Taming the roboflail

We look after lots of small parcels of land along the Hogs Back, including the some pretty steep chalk grassland slopes. The roboflail is ideally suited to the task, being able to traverse up to a 55˚ incline. Also it’s much safer for roadside working where the operator can stand well back.

Surrey Hills southern verge mown

We cut a road verge by the Surrey Hills wooden sculpture, which is near one of the meadows we manage where Stu and I found over 500 Pyramidal Orchids back in the Summer.

Mowing the bank opposite Tongham Ambulance Station

Acting Senior Ranger Stuart

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Ghoulish Grants Moor, MWA HAHA

It wasn’t that bad really, but had to get a Halloween pun in there somewhere.

Yesterday our team of volunteers managed a small patch of heathland in Grants Moor for our reptile friends, and we had a massive team of 20 people ! Good job I brought extra biscuits.

The site was starting to be taken over by various plant species such as Broom, Oak, Birch and Bramble and the Heather itself needed a bit of TLC as it had become too mature in some areas.

Janet and Chris tackled the large clump of Oak saplings.

Paul giving his usual cheek and Meticulous Mike going to town with the hedgecutter  on what once was a big patch of Bramble.

Lets play a game of spot the volunteer, there are five in this photo.


By the end of the day our heathland looked beautiful and clear. It is best to do heathland management at this time of year as most reptiles will be going into hibernation and therefore we cause very little impact to their environment. By removing invasive species, heather is able to grow easier and we can obtain different age classes which makes the area scrappy, perfect for scaly friends.


I would thank everyone individually but I think I would be here all day ! Thank you to everyone who came along, you all did a fantastic job managing the site.

Assistant Ranger Bobbie


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New Volunteer Programme

Here’s our new sparkly volunteer programme for November.

Volunteer Task Programme November 2017

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Hectic Halloween at Lakeside 

Today Sam & I are bug hunting with families at the Lakeside Halloween Event in Ash, hosted by the Community Wardens at Guildford Borough Council. It’s been a busy day with over 600 visitors carving pumpkins and exploring the Local Nature Reserve.

Acting Senior Ranger Stuart

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Prince of Culverts

Stu and I headed out to Princes Avenue on the 17th October to improve the condition of one the paths that had become very wet and muddy over time.

We set out to improve the drainage of the path by using the digger to create long ditches leading downhill from the pathway to prevent water from pooling on it and holding ditches along the sides of the path to improve water catchment and capacity.


Then Laura, Jeremy, Dharma and I headed back out on Friday the 20th to continue the improvements by laying a length of culvert pipe under the pathway to allow water to run underneath it. To finish the work we tamped aggregate over the wet areas of the path to get it in good condition while we wait for it to dry out.

On the third day, Friday the 27th, Laura, Jeremy, Dharma, Bobbie and I completed the drainage works at princes by installing one more culvert nearby and completing the aggregate laying to restore the path to its former glory.

Sam Valente, Assistant Ranger

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