Archive for the ‘Residential weekends’ Category

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of John Agar on 17 April 2020.  John was a very committed and enthusiastic member of SACV and right up until recent weeks he was a stalwart of the group, for many years our most frequent volunteer.  John was out with us most recently at Chorlton Water Park on Sunday 1 March, where he busily got stuck in to the construction of a willow arch.

John had a passion for the natural world and conservation and he especially enjoyed having more time to indulge these interests in later life.  In former years, John was a fixture on our residential weekends in the Peaks, until he “retired” from weekends away in 2013.  On those weekends, John continued his working life’s habit of very early starts, so by the time the rest of us were up John would inevitably have been for a walk to listen to the local birdsong as well as got the breakfast porridge, tea and toast on the go!

John was a founder member of the Friends of Chorlton Meadows, a group we have worked with many times over the years.  Having lived in Chorlton all his life, John was a source of fascinating memories of the changing local environment.

Since the loss of John, tributes have come in from the volunteers who have worked with him over the years: it is clear he was held in huge affection and warm regard, a vocal advocate for the natural environment, infectiously enthusiastic and always willing to share his knowledge with others, warm and welcoming to volunteers of all ages, good-humoured and good company.  He will be greatly missed.

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This past weekend was our first residential weekend of the year, working as usual with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers and staying in their volunteer accommodation near Grindleford.  On both Saturday and Sunday we worked on reconstructing a set of steps on a steep footpath above Eyam – thirty-nine steps, pleasingly!

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This past weekend was our third and final residential weekend of 2019, again with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers.  We were back on the shores of Tittesworth Reservoir, and were pleased to see that the lakeside hedge we worked on last October and again in the January snow is well established and providing effective protection of the shore. In a hot and sunny late summer day we did further work on the hedge to keep its rampant growth under control and to extend it further along the water.

Sunday was a greyer, wetter day but nonetheless we made good progress with a new stretch of hedge in a different location, opening up views of the lake while also protecting the shore and enhancing the wildlife habitat.

An excellent weekend all round!

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For our first weekend away of 2019 we were treated to a a beautiful sunny and snowy landscape on the edge of Tittesworth Reservoir!  Working with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers, on Saturday we were coppicing willow in an area being managed as an important habitat for willow tit.  Then, on Sunday, we returned to the willow hedge that we began in October 2018, and extended it further along the shore.  This barrier, created by a combination of dead hedging and the laying of living willow, is to discourage disturbance by walkers and dogs of an area of the shore important for ground-nesting birds.

Update, May 2019: Back in the area for another weekend, we were pleased to see our hedge thriving and sprouting well!


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SACV goes to Ireland!

This month saw SACV’s first international outing!  We spent a long weekend in Ireland and joined in with voluntary work being done by Mountain Meitheal, a group of environmental volunteers who have for the past fifteen years undertaken conservation and restoration projects on mountain and forest tracks and have won awards for their work.

Our volunteer Mike is a past member of Mountain Meitheal and nobly organised the trip over to Ireland for nine SACV members.  In glorious weather, we worked with Mountain Meitheal on path maintenance and waterbar construction on Three Rock Mountain (Saturday 5th) and were taken on an instructive guided walk (Sunday 6th) around Glendalough to see some of Mountain Meitheal’s past projects.

It was a great weekend.  Very big thanks to Mountain Meitheal who gave us a warm welcome, contributed very generously to the cost of our accommodation and were informative and engaging guides to the local area.  And of course – very big thanks to Mike who came up with the idea and planned the weekend, booked the ferries and youth hostels, drove the minibus and pulled the whole thing together!


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This past weekend was our first residential weekend of the year.  We were working as usual with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers, but the weekend was a little disrupted – not so much by snow as by the constant forecast of possible heavy snow!

Plans for our activities therefore had to be altered but nonetheless we were able to work on Saturday on the removal of a fence which had previously been part of a project to protect an important habitat for water shrews.  The land is no longer grazed by livestock so the need for the fence has gone and access to the brook’s bank has been restored.

By Sunday morning the snow was starting to fall so, with our other activities having been cancelled, we had the chance of a walk to enjoy it!

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The weekend before last saw us among the atmospheric ruins of Errwood Hall.  We spent our final residential weekend of the year working with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers to remove invasive rhododendron from the grounds around the remains of the Hall.  Originally part of the Hall’s landscaped Victorian estate, the rhododendron has spread out of control over the decades, to the detriment of the woodland and its habitats.

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This weekend was our second trip to the Peaks this year, working as usual with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers (PPCV). On Saturday we worked on the Pennine Way to help with areas which need improved drainage. On Sunday we were very pleased to join (as two years ago) the annual Pick-and-Play day, which was again organised by Peak Mountaineering and PPCV: this followed the usual formula of litter-picking for one half of the day and then a choice of outdoor activities for the other half. This time we SACV volunteers opted for a mix of activities, including bushcraft, a guided walk, orienteering, climbing and abseiling – and as previously we had a fine time, with a torrential downpour in the middle of the day failing to dampen enthusiasm!

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This, our first residential weekend away of 2017, was spent as usual doing some work through the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers.  The activity was to remove some encroaching hawthorn from a hillside to preserve an important grassland habitat; energetic work on a steep slope, but that and a bonfire helped to keep the winter chill away!

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This past weekend was our last residential weekend of the year, working with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers as usual, this time on the Pennine Way.  On both days we did some footpath maintenance – improving the drainage on parts of the path with the aim of preventing future erosion (both from flooding and from walkers being forced to divert off the route).  So plenty of work with spades and mattocks – and some especially enthusiastic digging from a couple of canine volunteers!

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