Saturday, 31 December 2016

What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love And Understanding?

Once in a while we encounter people who are not happy about our planting trees. We are very conscious of boundary disputes, ownership issues, access rights, and interrupting householder's views. We plan our plantings accordingly.

Legally, neighbours can complain about hedges, if they consist of evergreen plants which are over two metres tall, and which affect the enjoyment of a house or garden.

Nothing we have ever planted (in 50+ years) has ever met these conditions.

But, we don't want to get drawn into neighbour disputes, and so are even more careful than the law requires us to be. We look at sight lines from houses, and will not plant where we think a neighbours view from their house or garden will be affected. We also refuse to plant evergreen hedges, even when a landowner requests them. Our plantings always comprise a mix of predominantly deciduous species.

Despite this, it is still not possible to entirely avoid neighbour ire.

Today we were planting a shelter belt between fields on a hillside. A mix of deciduous 20-40cm saplings, 2 metre spacing. The owners of the neighbouring field above where we were planting came out to tell us in very robust terms that the trees would be blocking the view of the valley from their land.

The trees we were planting today were at least 100 metres from their house, and there was no sight line from their house or garden - the only sight lines that may eventually be interrupted are from some non-permanent farming type structures, wooden sheds and some metal cages (for livestock?). It is unlikely that the deciduous trees we planted today will ever entirely block the view of the valley even from these temporary structures, and will not remotely impinge on it for at least 10 years. The fields slope quite steeply, and the planting was taking place well below the footings of even the temporary structures in the field above. But, the neighbours were, without doubt, very upset indeed.

Its a shame that this happened, and it was quite stressful - but brave efforts were made to reassure the neighbours, and our collective conscience is clear.

We have the full permission of the landowner for the planting we have agreed, and material and support from the Woodland Trust for the project. The rest of the planned planting is even further away from and further below the the level of the neighbours house.

We were: myself, Philip, Dave, Geoff, PA, Maxime, Claudine, Edouard, Tanya, Ben and Solo the Dog, Jess, Dianne and Lizzie the dog, Adrian, Peter T., Lesley, Robert, Hap and Sarah.

Back at the pub Dianne provided us with surplus Christmas cheese and crackers, and even cooked a pan of chestnuts on the open fire. A lovely end to an otherwise testing morning.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Whatever happened to Christmas

Edouard and PA.

Well despite it being Christmas Eve, a demented/devoted few of us turned up at the nursery and spent a lovely morning cutting up logs. We earned our home made mince pies.

We were: myself, Philip, Geoff, PA, Maxime, Claudine, Edouard, Dave and Tanya.

Happy holidays everybody!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

A forest

Philip, fettling.

Here we were today at Royd House Wood. We were thinning out some trees planted around 20 years ago. Kirklees land, and Kirklees forestry officers had marked up the trees for removal by us.

We were: Ben (solo, without Solo), Philip and chainsaw, Stephen K. and chainsaw, Stephen O., Steve, Hap, Tanya, Jess, Dianne and Johnathan, John, Guy, Peter, Dave and some Aldi liqueur , Adrian, and myself.

We filled over 3 bays of our drying sheds with the fruits of our labour.

Cake was pineapple upside down cake, followed later by Guy and Mandy's winter feast at the Sair (curry, sausages, many side-dishes). Geoff (poorly) joined us at the Sair.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Lonely boy

Back up to Huck Hill this morning to plant the last dozen trees on my own. We did seem to have dug slightly too many holes when we were preparing the other week though. There are 11 empty screefs, 12 guards, and 14 stakes left over. Maybe if there is something suitable left over at the end of the season I will pop back and fill these in...

Saturday, 10 December 2016


A Hogarthian scene.
We were back at Butterley Clough finishing off. Or was it finishing us off? (Thanks Guy). Not only is it a pig to get to, it is also, in places, very rocky. I could have built Stonehenge with the stuff I dug up.

Anyway, we were: Steve, Lee, Jess, Cath, Dianne and Lizzie the Dog,  Duncan and Harvey the Dog, Andrew, Hap, Dave, Ben and Solo the dog, Lesley, Robert, Geoff, myself, Philip, Adrian, Susan and Stephen.

The 200+ trees got planted, and fruit cake got eaten. Onwards!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Climb

Hap in attention seeking beatific pose.
Today we were at Butterley, deep in the clough, which made it steep, to say the least. We were: myself, Steve, Philip, Adrian (half session), Geoff, Dave, Jess, Dianne and Lizzie the dog, Hap, Stephen, and Andrew. We planted 105 Sessile Oak, and I think, 105 Scots Pine.

Cake was chocolate.

Pictures by Jess this week, with her Motorola G4 (sponsorship opportunity?).

Surrender yourself to this epic power ballad, which, lyrically, pretty much sums up this morning.

Deep in the clough.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Apology song

Today we ventured back to Huck Hill, planting another 60 trees, and digging holes for the remaining 30. We were: myself, Stephen, Dave, Hap and Tanya.

Tanya arrived by bicycle, and we gave her a bit of a lecture about her rather casual approach to bicycle security. Hence today's title and song.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Keep on keepin' on

Today we were high up above Marsden planting a long hedge and some trees. We were: Stephen O., Stephen K., Steve, Tanya, Robert, Hap, Philip, Dave, Jess and Lee, Dianne and Lizzie the dog, Duncan and Harvey the dog, Ben and Solo the dog, Geoff, John and myself.

We planted 510 trees and hedging plants this morning. Which is a pretty heroic effort. Though we did have to keep on keepin' on til 1pm.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Everybody is a star

Somebody wake Hap up!
This Thursday morning five of us went back to Huck Hill and planted another 80 or so trees. We were: myself, Stephen, Dianne, Dave and Hap. Scones had been freshly made by Ann.

Well done everyone!

This leaves 60 Downy Birch and 30 Alder to be planted at this site (all of which are at the nursery).

Saturday, 19 November 2016


Mystery guest and his political hat.
This week we were back at Huck Hill. The weather was not kind, and the ground here is still the hardest digging we ever do. Nevertheless we planted around 200 trees. We were: myself, Dave, Philip, Guy, Cath, Steve, Lesley and Robert, Adrian, Jess, Dianne and Lizzie the dog, Ben and Solo the dog, Iain, and Geoff. Cake was sticky ginger.

I guess we still have another 150 trees to plant here, which is either another days team work, or a little hobby for me on my days off!

Dave and his deckchair.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Heartbroken, in disrepair.

I popped back up to Huck Hill, and dug another 20 holes ready for next Saturday.

Unfortunately, I broke Dave's new toy. Only had 4 days of use, so am filling out the Amazon return form now...

Saturday, 12 November 2016


Today were were up at Huck Hill, Marsden. We were: Iain (who's field it is) myself, Philip, Geoff, Hap, Stephen, Peter T., Cath, Dave, Ben and Solo the dog, and Adrian.

To the best of my recollection we planted 52 Hawthorn (out of 60), 90 Downy Birch (out of 105), 13 Oaks (extras from Stephen's garden), 95 Scots Pine (out of 105).

Cake was an adorable coconut and cherry affair, which some people had 3 bits of.

Back here again next week for more punishment! (heavy digging) (so many parentheses today).

This week, a wildly inappropriate (but classic) country tune.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Thank U

Doug, Rebecca, Guy and Philip

Today we had a visit from Rebecca Speight, Chief Executive of the Woodland Trust.

Myself, Philip, Guy (in his White Rose Forest role) met Rebecca and Doug Edmundson, Woodland Trust Woodland Creation Advisor (North Central).

We took a quick tour of Hemplow Wood and expressed our extreme gratitude to them for the support that the Woodland Trust has given us in recent years.

Me, Guy, Doug and Rebecca

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Apple blossom

A game of two teams today. Myself, Duncan and Harvey the dog, John, Ben and Solo the dog went back to Highwood to finish planting 75 Oaks, plus another 13 Oaks home grown by Stephen. Duncan was very proud of how the apple trees he planted here have done, and took fruit home.

Meanwhile..Philip, Geoff, Hap, Cath, ,Dave, Diane, Jess, Lesley and Robert, Stephen, Steve and Adrian went to Cop Hill Slaithwaite to plant 375 assorted trees. I believe they were assisted by Neil, Julie and Seth.

Cake was also Apple!

Geoff likes to pretend he is digging for Time Team.

Saturday, 29 October 2016


First day of the Season and were at Fieldhouse, Slaithwaite planting 150 Red Oak and 45 Sessile Oak. We were: myself, Steve, Hap, Adrain, Jess, Dianne and Lizzie the dog, Duncan and Harvey the dog, Geoff and Dave. 75 Sessile Oak still to plant on this site.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Keep on truckin'

The day of our big delivery. We are now ready for the Season. Scott from Alba brought us all our gear. There to greet him were myself, Neil, Philip, Peter, Adrian, Dave and John.

Saturday, 22 October 2016


Embracing the idea of it now being Winter,  we were cutting up logs and filling our drying bays.

We were: myself, Philip, Jess, Adrian, Guy, Lesley and Robert, Hap, Steve, Ben and Solo the dog.

Monday, 10 October 2016


Another sad loss this Summer, Ron, the legendary landlord of the Sair.

While I am a comer-inner, and haven't known Ron for my whole drinking life (unlike some Society members) he was a friend and supporter of the Society for many, many years. He will be missed.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Way up yonder - in the minor key

This Saturday we ventured up the far, high end of the valley to do some tidying of a site planted in 2009. Its coming along well up there.

We had apple sponge at break, which contained some of the nursery's thousands of apples.

We were: myself, Steve, Dave, Hap, Ben and Solo the dog, Jessica, Peter and Geoff.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

In the pines

Robert and Lesley remove the stump of a tree they felled.

In the pines, is exactly where we were today. We went to the small Scots pine plantation round the back of Butterley Reservoir. We think this was planted by the water board back in the 1960s, when that sort of thing was fashionable. Sadly the plantation is not looking as vibrant or viable as it did even 10 years ago. There are a large number of dead trees, and a number of trees that have been blown down in storms. At the same time, there are beginnings of natural regeneration of native broadleaf species, including Oak, Rowan and Holly, at ground level. We went in there with bow saws to take down some of the smaller dead pines, in order to allow more light to the natural regeneration. We were: Joanne and Jake, Lesley and Robert, Guy, Geoff, myself and Peter. Everyone worked safely, and no trees fell on us. We left the site at least as tidy as we found it. All timber was left on site in habitat piles.

Friday, 16 September 2016


We were extremely sad this week to hear of the death of a friend and member of the Society, Clare Bakhtiar. Clare planted trees with us between 1998 and 2001, but moved away from the area. She stayed in touch, and twice came with us on our occasional Summer walking and mountain trips. The above picture was taken at Inchnadamph Lodge in Scotland, just before we walked up Ben More Assynt. Her sudden death in an accident is a terrible loss, most of all for her son Caleb.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Nature boy

Its always a shame to split up the workforce, as a large part of the reason to be there on a Saturday morning is the social aspect, but, sometimes there are things that need doing.

So this morning we had a nursery party, myself, Dianne, Peter W., Ben and Solo the dog. And an out and about party, Philip, Geoff and Steve.

The nursery party cleared paths and covered up allotment beds with landscape fabric (donated by Duncan). This gives us access and space for storage of the Winter planting stock.

Philip and Geoff visited a prospective site at Bolster Moor, and then joined forces with Steve at Wholestone Moor to weed, straighten guards, and perform general aftercare duties. The trees are doing well. Some of the more recently planted nurse species are doing their job of growing quickly. The oak are growing, all but slowly.

Messing about in the shrubbery.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Bad to the bone

This evening I went up above Marsden with Sarah and Neil to take a look at the ash die-back in their field. Very sad, not every tree is affected, and most that are affected still have new growth from this year, but have lost their main upward stem, the leader. Forestry commission advice is a bit unclear. They don't advise outright destruction, but do say that coppicing from diseased trees is likely not a good idea. Coppicing was Neil and Sarah's original plan for these trees. Luckily, they have other trees, and other species in the same field.

Diseased stem, it will work its way back down the stem.

The leader (top stem) seems most often the one to go.
Classic "lesion" on stem.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

In the flat field

This morning we went to Wham to do some weeding, it is not very often that we are in a more or less flat field. We were; myself, Dave, Philip, Jess, Ben and Solo the dog, and Adrian.

And a wildly inappropriate bit of goth rock this week.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Machine gun

Another solo session up Wessenden. Guy and Stephen have done their turns, and today I went up and did an hours weeding. Lovely day.

On the way back down I passed some re-enactor sorts on their way to Uppermill for one of those 1940s days. Quite bizarre to turn a corner and see a small tank trundling along the road.  Albeit the most pathetic tank ever made, the Bren Carrier, complete with (hopefully) replica Bren gun on the top of it.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Clean up at home

This Saturday we stayed at home, at our nursery base. Lots of work was done clearing paths and cutting back overgrowth. Important work, in that our neighbours won't think the place is quite such an eyesore, and also because we will need the easy access and space to store trees and materials in the Autumn.

We were: myself, Dave, Geoff, Lesley, Robert, Adrian, and John.

Still more work to be done. More paths to be cleared, stakes to be stacked for drying, and fruit to be picked. Could probably do with some new tools too, a flat hoe for clearing paths, and some new shears.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Higher ground

That same Saturday another team weeded Delight Farm, which didn't take long and Scammonden, which took longer. The Scammonden weeding was the Green Building Store's plantings from the last 2 years. There was plenty of all the nasties: Brambles, Himalayan Balsam, Nettles, Bracken, Thistles, Rose-Bay Willow Herb and Grass.

They were (if remembered correctly): Dave, Geoff, Steve, John, Adrian, Robert, Lesley, Seth, Neil and Philip.

The team were, of course, careful not to weed anything that looked like it might be a significant wild flower.

Hound dog

Solo seeks attention, Neil just stares him down.
Today some of us were at Glen View planting some dogwood (Cornus Sanguinea to latinists). We were: myself, Ben and Solo the (hound) dog, Neil, Sarah and Tanya.

All plants were thoroughly mulch-matted. Cake was peanut cookies.

Going back

A trip down memory lane to Green Owlers.. This is what it looked like in March  2009.

And this is how it looks now in July 2016!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

As I walked out one morning

Another solo bracken bashing session, this time it was Stephen seeking some peace and tranquility on the hillside at Butterley.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Livin' la Vida loca

Vida obscured by young tree.
Fifth bracken bashing session of the season. Back at Butterley. Today we were: myself, Philip, Steve, Stephen, Geoff, Dianne and Lizzie the dog, Jess, Ben and Solo the dog, Neil with Seth and Jake, and Robert with Jack and Vida (hence this week's song title). We got a ton of work done, despite the passing heavy showers. And enjoyed ginger cake at break time.

All followed by a short but lively conversation about Brexit with Bobby back at the Sair!

Guy said he would be bashing later on in the afternoon. No photographic evidence though yet.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

One man went to mow

No photo, but Philip was up at Butterley this evening. In the rain. For the fourth session of the season.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Swords of a thousand men (well, four men and a dog)

Lots still to be done!
Third bracken bashing session of the season. Butterley again. We were: myself, Philip, Ben and Solo the dog, and Steve. There was a 50/50 split on choice of tools today. Myself and Steve had slashers. Ben and Philip favour a sickle.

We get material and financial support from Yorkshire Water and the Woodland Trust - and part of the relationship is that we undertake to weed the planted sites, in order to maximise successful growth. Still quite a lot to do so we will be piling on the emotional blackmail in order to get more boots on the ground next Saturday.

Cake was fruit slice. Midges, middling. But we had nets and Jungle Formula (sponsorship opportunity).

After bashing, Philip and I went to visit Eileen and Yogi to discuss planting up some of their land this Winter. We were enthusiastic... and they were charming.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Some enchanted evening?

Nicely bashed.
First Thursday night of bracken bashing for this season. We were; myself, Hap, Philip and Steven. No official cake, but Hap did share his with us. Pleasant evening. Not too midgy.

Bracken bashing is hard, sweaty work. But it means that the new trees get plenty of light, when otherwise they would be shaded out by the seasonal growth of bracken.

We get material and financial support from Yorkshire Water and the Woodland Trust - and part of the relationship is that we undertake to weed the planted sites, in order to maximise successful growth.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

The long and winding road (up Wessenden)

Jess being helped up the steep slope by Lizzie.
So week one of this years bracken bashing, up the far far end of Wessenden. We were: myself, Dave, Jess and Lizzie the Dog, Hap, Adrian, Steve, John and Geoff.
Cake was the legendary Eccles. We got a fair bit done, but there were a lot of stakes needed banging in, and a lot of cable ties needed tightening.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Bug powder dust

Went back to Jolly's field to finish the cardboard mulch matting. Just myself, Ann and Tanya. And it just took til 11am. There were, however, shed loads of midges. A timely reminder to re-stock the insect repellent and head nets.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Unknown brother

Weeded, matted.
Today we were in Marsden trialling a new form of weed suppression. Cardboard mulch mats. The field we had planted in contains a tank and pipe supplying water to a nearby terrace, so spraying wasn't an option. We were: Dianne and Lizzie the dog, Dianne's brother Jim (who we had not met before hence this weeks song title), Jess, John, Steve, Ann and myself. Cake was jam sponge, plus Mint flavour kit kats that Dianne had brought. Very pleasant morning, lets hope it has some beneficial effect and one day this is an impenetrable hawthorn hedge worthy of a fairy tale.

Steve's feet, Ann, Jim, Jess, Dianne and John.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

(B)ramble on.

Geoff and Dave, both cutting a dash in their differently styled shirts.
So we went to Fieldhouse to clear brambles from the young trees there. Fieldhouse is coming along nicely, and this will probably be the last time we need to do this. We were: myself, Peter W., Steve, Geoff and Dave. Dave was wearing a frilly shirt, that looked somewhat incongruous when wielding his petrol strimmer. Cakes were rock.

Ben and new dog Solo stayed at the Nursery. Duncan and Harvey the dog went to Merrydale.

Some woodland, improved and expanded by us.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Fruit tree

Geoff labours, Cath casts a critical eye.
This week we were at Rotcher community orchard, helping them to tame their weeds. We were: myself, Philip, Geoff, Cath, Adrian, Steve, Duncan and Harvey the dog, and Dianne. There were also a number of Rotcher folk. Cake was chocolate.

(Song title: Nick Drake).

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Knock on wood


Me, Dave, Adrian and Ben spent a few hours cutting and splitting logs today at the nursery. It was a fairly pleasant morning though the promised nicer weather did not appear, the chilly drizzle making up for that. Hopefully this batch of wood will now be seasoned in time for next winter. Lots more to do still! 

Hit, git and split.

John and I had an effective morning checking the Merrydale trees. The points of note were:- loads of hazel nuts, lots of germinating balsam especially in the areas were water was running, a couple of split trees and exceptionally muddy footway. There is a another two man morning to finish the guards, some formative pruning and I would coppice one in three of the hazels.

John gave blood for the cause as evidenced in the photos (editor's note: not sure an extreme close up of a bloody volunteer is the right image for the blog).


Saturday, 26 March 2016

Wild is the wind

Today on possibly the windiest Colne Valley site Dave, Chris, Dianne, Ben, Steve, Hap, myself and the two dogs beat the elements planting about 75  Viburnum lantana, Wayfaring tree and 160 willow (editors note: some of these may have been Spindle)

We did well in making use of the bare root trees from Stirley farm  and used a lot of recycled stakes and guards.

Cake was provided by Mrs Haps.

All planters will be sleeping very well after  working out in heavy windy conditions.. Thanks to all.


Saturday, 19 March 2016

Every rose has it's thorn (except the Guelder Rose?)

Canes and spirals for the Guelder Rose.
Today were were back at Outlane, for the official last day of the planting season. We were; myself, Philip, Dave, Hap, Adrian, Jenny, Makun, Duncan and Harvey the dog, Cath, Peter W., Steve, Stephen, Jess, Lesley, Robert, and young Ben.

We planted 107 Guelder Rose, 120 Alder and 75 Goat Willow.

Cake was sticky ginger. V.good.

There are, in fact, a few trees left to plant this season. Stirley Farm donated quite a few trees to us last week, and so I will be planting 25 Whitebeam above Dirker in Marsden, Adrian will be planting 30 Hawthorn at Pole Moor, and Duncan will be planting 100 Wayfaring, Spindle and Dogwood at Goat Hill Farm. Duncan's planting will take place next Saturday, and he will need some help!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

2,4,6,8 Motorway

Today we were at Scammonden, almost within punk rock spitting distance of the M62. We were joined by the good folk of the Green Building Store, who sponsored today with 220 Sessile Oak, stakes and guards. We also planted 100 Downy Birch, which were a last minute donation from Stirley Community Farm.

CVTS folk were; myself, Geoff, Cath, Lesley and Robert, Jess, Dianne and Lizzie the dog, Duncan and Harvey the dog, Peter W., Peter T., Stephen O., Stephen K., Ben, Hap, Philip, Guy, Mandy, Machan, Dave, Brian, Ros and Steve. Plus as many Green Building Store people.

Cake was another new one, carrot and orange, again very successful.

Weather was mild and dry.

Are you all keeping up with the songs titles for post headlines?

And I nearly forgot to mention the lost baby rabbit we encountered. It was ushered back into the brambles to keep it away from the dogs.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Life in the Outlane

Kit and caboodle.

Here we were today in Outlane, planting 105 Oak, 75 Alder and 75 Goat Willow. We were; myself, Adrian, Hap, Philip, Dave, Geoff, Dianne and Lizzie the dog, Duncan and Harvey the dog, Ben, Peter W., Stephen, Steve, Chris, Brian, Diane and Jenny, Seth Luke and Joanne. Jess stayed the nursery and sorted logs.

Cake was a new one, date and pineapple loaf, and was a resounding success.

Jenny (and noise cancelling headphones?!) and Diane.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Wood, 'n it be luverley.

As Mr Carter has pointed out, we are doing quite well with stocking our drying shed. While we don't aspire to being a fully fledged social enterprise, these logs do help pay the rent.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Big log

Guy, how long is that log? Is it a "Dave"?

More thinning and formative pruning at Netherwood. Dave was snedding trees that Philip felled today that were not done last week in the lower part of the site (M10b). Guy and Mandy were formative pruning and manual felling at the top of the site (M12c). They met with the landowner to explain why we were thinning and formative pruning -  and then took some of the logs back to the nursery, leaving some for the landowner.