Thursday morning volunteers again visited the neglected and overgrown area now known as Northchurch Flats – it is far from flat!
The first visit to clear the scrub took place before Christmas, with a record turn-out, and it was expected that further visits would be required to finish the job.
This time the cold weather reduced the numbers to the hard core members only, and fortunately the rain kept off until the afternoon. The intention was to clear out the old Victorian chalk pit adjacent to the road, dug out by the locals around 1880 when it was still part of the common. A chain gang type operation was needed to get the cleared scrub up the sides of the pit for the ritual burning.
The long term purpose of the operation is to “enhance the floristic value of the chalk roadside banks”. It was some years ago that orchids graced the banks of the hollow, which has a micro-climate of it’s own. With the deer reduction program now complete, this should allow the flora to recolonise the hollow. We might even have the return of some brambles to support ground nesting birds like the pheasant. That would be exiting, so let nature get on with it! It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the restoration to be successful, when it will showcase the delights of Ashridge to the passing public.
It was nice to welcome a new volunteer to the group – Anne Robinson. She wrote in to say how much she had enjoyed her induction.
Thanks to Richard Gwilt for his contribution to the article.