We hope you’ve all been keeping well with minimal Covid impact and enjoying our Indian Summer over recent days. Perhaps you may have even managed to get away for a break in these strange times. Outside of charcoal production, it’s been relatively quiet in Pondhead over the past month. Even the Limewood sewer work which was due to start a couple of weeks ago has yet to commence operations!
We are currently winding down charcoal operations as sales always die away after the end of August. We keep a bulk stock over the winter to cover the trickle of sales over that period and will close down production by 22 September. It’s been a challenging season in view of the fact that we did little cutting last autumn/winter because of Covid but we have retrieved various piles of previously cut timber from some of the more remote areas of the inclosure and just about managed to find enough to see us through. Despite this and an indifferent summer, it’s been a record year and we are already £700 ahead of the sales for the whole of last year! For the first time ever we have produced over 5 tonnes of charcoal which required over 15 tonnes of cut timber so many congratulations to all who have been involved in achieving this record.
As mentioned above, the Limewood sewer saga continues to roll on with one delayed start after another. It was an ominous sign recently when the Project Manager asked if we’d like to buy a lottery ticket for the start date! Every meeting we’ve had with them brings forth a further change in the plan and we are now told that the work inside the inclosure could last up to 10 weeks. Basically, the plan is to tunnel the new pipeline from the rear Limewood gate along ride numbers 18, 17, 16, 12 and 11 (see map below) before diverting off through the fields to the north around 300 metres from Beechen Lane gate. When the work is in progress this section of track will be closed and the contractors will require access to both ends via both the Beechen Lans and Beaulieu Road gates (1 and 2 on the map). In addition to both gravel tracks, they will also be using grass rides 26, 23 and 22 past the kiln area. The work will commence at the Limewood end then work down towards Beechen Lane with the initial work involving removal of the stretch of tarmac on ride 18 which is incongruous in a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) – the conservation status of Pondhead. The tarmac will be replaced with approved hoggin in due course. We will be involved in weekly site meetings with the contractors when work begins, whenever that may be! We’ll endeavour to keep you posted as work progresses.
When the charcoal season ends, we plan to start our autumn/winter conservation programme in the week commencing 27 September and we will be confining tasks to the north eastern sector in the vicinity of rides 20, and 21 initially to avoid the sewer operations. This initial work will involve ride maintenance, cutting back overgrowth from the ride edges – we aim to commence coppicing late October/early November. The tasks will appear in the Events Diary shortly but before they do, we are thinking of working towards set days each week and would like your views on this. We’d be grateful if you would take a few seconds to complete the form below in order that we may guage which days would be most suitable.
In view of the Covid situation which still looks far from over, we will be limiting tasks to 10 volunteers plus 2 task leaders (who have recently attended a Forestry First Aid Course). With the vast majority of our volunteers having been double jabbed the risk is significantly reduced and while infections can happen outdoors, the chances are further reduced as fresh air disperses and dilutes the virus. In addition, ultraviolet light from the sun should kill any virus that’s out in the open. Having said all this, we still need to remain wary and take a few simple precautions which task leaders will advise. In particular, do not turn up if you think you may be infected and socially distance ( around one metre) as much as possible while on a task. With a few simple precautions, we should all be able to have an enjoyable day in Pondhead with all the benefits that outdoor excercise brings.
Once we have received your feedback, we will start listing our autumn/winter tasks in the Events Diary