New Beginnings!

New Beginnings

So here it is, the first entry of what I hope will be a long and prosperous blog.
I aim to use this space to create a written and pictorial record of our woodland project as it progresses.  Mainly as a reminder to myself; so that in years to come I can look back and marvel about how far we have come. But also to share with you guys; my friends and family.  If I can spark any inspiration, imagination or even interest along the way-then that will be a bonus!
First things first; An Introduction to The Woodland Project.
The adventure began on the 3rd August 2012 when we purchased just over two acres of ancient woodland near our hometown of Wigan, England.
Having not been managed for the past 30 years, the area has been allowed to ramble along, with only mother nature as its’ guide,  which is fine. However, we have a dream, a vision and this space seemed the perfect place to begin creating that dream.
To give you some idea of what we have purchased, the land is bordered along one side by a beautiful stretch of river; central to the space is a meadow of approximately one acre (as you can see from the picture this was completely overgrown with Himalayan Balsam but that’s another story!).  To the other edge of the land is a steep embankment sloping down from the road above; this is a private road and does not see much in the way of through traffic, plus the trees that grow on this embankment provide some privacy though we do hope to plant a natural hedgerow all along the roadside (at some pont in the future!).  Our vision for the meadow includes short term, i.e, we hope to be able to begin with this very soon-growing as much produce (fruit, vegetables, herbs) as possible andlonger term, i.e-this may take more time/planing etc- keep livestock (chickens, pigs).
At each end of the meadow the land continues into a natural  woodland; mainly ash, too many sycamore, hawthorn, elder, some alder, a few splendid oaks, several silver birch, the odd willow, and some newer beech saplings.
 The woods continue alongside the river, again with the embankment to the right, to the boundary of our land. The plan is to leave this as natural woodland but again to manage it appropriately and enhance its’ natural state. For example, the embankement is overshadowed by sycamore which is restricting the amount of natural light getting through and therefore harbouring growth of any vegetation.  Conjure up an image of a woods carpeted in Bluebells in the spring, green with ferns, and other native species of plants- well this is not what we have-YET, but definitely what we hope to have in time!
Also, there are several points throughout the woods that are rather boggy underfoot; as natural ‘run off’ drainage points from the feilds above thses are currently blocked, overgrown, not draining correctly, and need clearing.  Similarly there has been an awful lot of fly tipping down into the area.  One of the first tasks I undertook was to clear up the majority of broken glass and other dangerous items strewn around.  This in istself took a good few days and I’m sure I’ve only begun to touch the surface of it; so much so that I am now mortally apologetic for any piece of litter that I have ever dropped throughout my life.
As for the river; there has been considerable time and money spent, over recent years, on regeneration of the waterways and, with fishing rights and two avid fishermen in the family, we are hoping that this will prove beneficial.
One final note for this post; I realise there is a time difference between the actual date and the date the blog is intended to cover.  Having only just started writing about the project I have lots of catching up to do to bring the blog up to date.  I could apologise for this confusion but I’m not going to; instead I will finish by saying thanks for taking the time to read this and please call back soon, there is a lot to look forward to!

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