Once again the Ashtead Common Volunteers have come along to assist on Rye Meadows during July and August when they no longer volunteer on Ashtead Common. The band, led by James Irvine, have been clearing growth alongside the Rye Brook which has regrown from previous years culling.
We on Rye Meadows, are very grateful for this additional help.
In July and August 2014 volunteers from Ashtead Common and the Environment Agency joined our own small band of volunteers to clear the main culvert that runs from ashtead Woods Road to the Rye Brook. In addition they installed a new seat by the wooden bridge and cleared huge amounts of scrub from the banks. The main footpath was also improved by the addition of more hardcore.
Many thanks to all those who came along to help.
Volunteers from the Lower Mole Countryside Trust assisted by own own volunteers visited Rye Meadows on Tuesday to Thursday 7th to 9th October 2014 to clear blackthorn and hawthorn from the banks of the Rye Brook. Bramble and other scrub was also removed to let more light into the Brook.
Local birdlife obviously approved of the work as we saw a kingfisher exploring the stream now open for his fishing rights!
The photographs show the volunteers hard at work clearing the banks. Established trees were left in place and some coppicing took place where re-growth will occur over the next few years.
NCS The Challenge is an organisation which aims to bring together young people from all different backgrounds in a common purpose. Offering new experiences it gives them the chance to take on new challenges, learn new skills and meet new people. This helps discover their own talents and realise their potential whilst having fun.
10 young people came to assist us at Rye Meadows spending 4 hours cutting back the invasive blackthorn to let more light into the Rye Brook. They all worked exceptionally hard and all seemed to have a good time.
We hope to welcome "The Challenge" back next year with a new group of young people.
Our Estate Manager, Robert, has spent two weeks using a JCB and Dumper kindly donated by A-Plant to reshape some of the south bank to lower the bank and form some scrapes. In addition he has created a shelf alongside the stream where we will plant water loving plants.
Hay making on a sunny August day. These are the meadows in the sunshine with the new ponds filled despite the hot dry weather.
The Community Foundation for Surrey awarded us a generous grant to construct a large pond and scrapes in the field that has now been designated as a Centenary Field under Fields In Trust. Thanks to this generosity we were able to survey, plan and ultimately construct the pond and scrapes all sanctioned by the Environment Agency who recognised the flood alleviation this scheme would bring downstream.
Following Planning Permission granted by MVDC in 2015 work commenced on 1st April 2016 but was quickly halted by the wettest Spring weather for many years. Although we wanted to create a wetland we didn't quite want it before we started moving several tonnes of spoil off the site!
As a consequence work had to stop for a while. Even when we did continue we could only drag the spoil into a huge mound until the ground dried sufficiently to enable the large heavy dumper to move the it through Fraudings field into Jack Adams field so the grab lorry could take it away.
Thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, A Plant, we were able to keep the heavy plant on site and use it whenever the weather permitted. The pictures show the project from start with the mowed field to the end with the pond and scrapes already filled with groundwater.
Whilst excavating the ground, clay drainage pipes were discovered. These must have been installed many years ago as we were unaware of their exitence until work started. On the advice of an expert the pipes were broken up and a long deep trench dug between the pond and scrapes and the brook itself. This trench was then back filled with heavy compacted clay forming a natural barrier to the drainage. This allowed the natural groundwater to rise filling the pond and scrapes. The result was almost instant, and overnight the pond and scrapes filled.
The major ground work is now complete, but there is still some landscaping work to carry out. Another grant from the Thomas Flack Trust Fund helped us reshape the banks in the area, widening the brook and creating a shelf for water based plant life to flourish.
Thames Water have also now granted us funds to construct a wooden walkway across the wetland which will be built in 2017 by the Lower Mole Conservation Group.
If seeing these pictures encourages you get involved with volunteering for Rye Meadows, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
In October 2016 the Lower Mole Conservation Group came to complete the coppicing of the hedge from Bushey Shaw to Ashtead Woods Road, stopping at the new "Burnett" gate to what will be the workshop and yard for Rye Meadows. They came on three days and coppiced the existing overgrown old hedge, planting new hedging in the gaps, and leaving some Ash and Field Maple trees to break up the hedge.
The photos show the work in progress and completed plus show the lower section that was similarly coppiced in 2015. It is astounding how much the hedge has regrown in just 12 months. Once both sections have become established, the 'Moles' will return to lay the hedge, returning it to its state as would have been when the fields were commercially grazed by the farmer.
Volunteers clearing the blackthorn along the Rye Brook. This will allow more light into the brook. Photos courtesy of Chris Abbott's new iPhone toy!
These superb photos were taken Autumn 2016 by Ashley who's not a professional photographer but she certainly has the 'eye' for a very good photograph. Hers is the copyright but if anyone wants a full version copy, please contact email@example.com.
The Centenary Field boardwalk was sponsored by a generous grant from Thames Water and we are very grateful for their support in this worthwhile venture. The boardwalk will enable visitors to walk to the ponds and sit in peace and quiet and look over the new ponds which are gradually merging with the landscape. The ponds were created by another generous grant from the Community Foundation for Surrey, and the equipment used to excavate the ground was supplied by A Plant, another principal sponsore of Ashtead Rye Meadows Wetlands.
The bank work in the Centenary Field and other fields was funded by the Thomas Flack Trust, The Barnby Trust and Ashtead Rotary.
The aerial photos were taken by Graham Degg of Eyeup Aerial Solutions (www.eyeup.camera) and his assistance with these photos is much appreciated. The originals have much better definition but the file size is too large for uploading to the web site. Please contact Graham direct if you would like your own copies, or of course if you want to avail yourself of his services.
None of the improvements made in Rye Meadows could have been achieved without the generous support we receive from the many organisations who have either provided the necessary funds or the expertise. In alphabetical order these are:-
The Barnby Trust
The Community Foundation for Surrey
The Environment Agency
Eyeup Aerial Solutions
Fields in Trust
The Lower Mole Partnership
Mole Valley District Council
The Thomas Flack Fund
Surrey Wildlife Trust
The Woodland Trust
On Wednesday 24th May 2017 the Centenary Field in Ashtead Rye Meadows was officially opened by Col. Patrick Crowley following a commemoration and prayer of remembrance lead by Rev. Richard Jones of St. Giles and St. George's Churches. Also present was Hugh Riley, DL Deputy Lieutenant for Surrey and representatives of the various organisations who have supported and sponsored us. These include A Plant, the Community Foundation for Surrey, Thames Water, Ashtead Rotary, The Barnby Trust, The Thomas Flack Trust, The Lower Mole Partnership, Surrey Wildlife Trust, The Woodland Trust, The Trout Trust, The Environment Agency, Mole Valley District Council, Cllr. Chris Townsend, Cllr. Chris Hunt and the late Cllr. John Northcott.
On the day of the ceremony we were supported by Peter Williams (Pete Williams Entertainment Service), who supplied the sound equipment and who made a huge contribution to the recording of the schoolchildren's voices reciting the short profiles of those who fell in the Great War. In addition our thanks go to David Gillott and Andy Hendry of the Four Gables Group for supplying tea,coffee, cold water and delicious chocolate brownies to the assembled crowd.
Tkanks also to all the volunteers who contributed to the great success of this venture. We have received many letters of congratulations and appreciation, not only from the sponsors themselves, but also the many residents of Ashtead who came to the ceremony, including Chris and Sue Grayling, Cllr. Chris and Mrs. Chris Townsend, Cllr. Simon and Mrs. Cynthia Ling, Cllr. Pat Wiltshire and Cllr. David Hawksworth.
Photographs courtesy of Janet Webber, Hannah Mornement and David Baker.
Cathy Brett MA (UCA) is an artist and author whose recent commissions have included a museum exhibit, a National Park website, a French Revolution comic and an award-winning superhero book series. She lives and works in a light-filled studio at the bottom of a Leatherhead garden.
Cathy has agreed to create artwork from the photographs she has taken in order that notelets or cards can be printed for sale at Village Day and other events raising much needed funds for Rye Meadows work to continue. Follow Cathy's work on her web site below.
All the pictures below are subject to Copyright (© Cathy Brett 2017) .
10th March 2018
Thanks to some 25 volunteers who braved the doubtful weather forecast (which as usual came to nothing!) we planted 500 mixed native hedging plants in Fraudings Marsh alongside the new fence line. We would like to thank all those who came along to help plant the hedging. People came from all over, including one lady all the way from France!
The hedges planted were as follows:-
Wildlife Friendly Mixed Hedging Pack consists mainly (50%) of Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn) but also includes a mix of Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn), Corylus avellana (Hazel), Cornus sanguinea(Common Dogwood), Acer campestre (Field Maple) and Malus sylvestris(Crab Apple) (10% of each). This hedging mix is made to reflect rural hedging. It is suitable for all soil types and positions.
Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn):Small, fast-growing, deciduous tree with glossy dark green leaves, flat clusters of scented white flowers, and glossy red haws. (Please Note: Fruit may cause mild stomach upset if ingested)
Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn): A prickly native thorny hedge which produces masses of tiny snow white flowers in March on bare branches, with dark green oval leaves and purple sloe berries in autumn.
Corylus avellana (Hazel): Fast-growing, medium-sized tree with large green leaves, long yellow catkins and edible 'Hazelnuts'
Cornus sanguinea (Common Dogwood): Distinctive red stems with broad, ovate variegated leaves, small white flowers and black 'Dogberries'
Acer campestre (Field Maple): Fast-growing, deciduous tree, with leaves developing from red to green to buttery-yellow, small green flowers and winged seeds
Malus sylvestris (Crab Apple): Small, native,deciduous tree with cup-shaped pale pink flowers in spring. and fleshy, yellow-green, apple-like fruits tinged with red in autumn.
Ashtead Village Day 2018 saw us represented by some of the volunteers and special thanks go to everyone who helped on the day.
This year we focused on Cathy Brett's artwork and her cards and notelets. Cathy was commissioned by Daphne Burnett to record work on Rye Meadows via her artwork. Cathy produced notelets in packs of 4 which retail at £6.00 and are still available by contacting us on firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to notelet cards and lino print cards, Cathy is looking to create booklets recording the four seasons on Rye Meadows and perhaps even write an illustrated book with her drawings of the Meadows and contributions of stories and anecdotes from the volunteers. More on this project as time moves on.
On 2nd July 2019 we were lucky enough to have an enthusiastic team from Combe International Ltd help us to construct a path and bridge. The path is a side path off Footpath 24 and leads to Gullett Field. The bridge is a sleeper bridge across a deep culvert that takes water from Ashtead Common alongside Footpath 24 to the Rye Brook.
David Curnow researched Sleeper Bridges and downloaded a very useful design and guide from Hampshire County Council. We based our bridge on that design and bought the materials in readiness for the visit from Combe. Their team was organised by Sarah and although we had 6 tonnes of Type 1 hardcore to move there was no hesitation from anyone of either sex to help shovel the hardcore into wheelbarrows and move it to the site.
Logs were laid to mark out the path and a membrane was laid for weed prevention. Whilst some were moving the hardcore, others were digging out heavy clay soil to make the path as flat as possible. The remainder were digging out the foundations for the support beams that were to be laid parallel to the culvert.
Once these were in place the sleepers were moved into position and screwed down onto the support beams. Despite being told the screws would “drive in very easily”, even using a power drill and a generator this proved to be impossible and the last 30 or so turns of the screws had to be done by hand.
Once in position the hand rail was erected and more hardcore put in place to ensure there was no trip hazard leading to the bridge.
A sign was chiselled out, announcing “Combe Bridge” and a team photo was taken of the group proudly standing on their achievement.
A terrific bunch of willing people. Great company and we hope to have them back next year to construct another bridge.