11th November 2017
This was the first joint conservation working party with SUSTRANS as part of their Greener Greenways project.
The project is working to ensure that SUSTRANS routes are more than transport for people but also act as
wildlife corridors - connecting populations of wildlife and wildflowers. The route is home to several
colonies of Small Blues, Marbled Whites, Large, Small and Essex Skippers, amongst many other butterfly
species and several day-flying moth species (and no doubt night-flying moths).
The route is part of the old railway line between Didcot and Newbury and is unusual as a man made feature
that creates a chalk upland through a clay vale. Over the years since the line was closed in the 1960s it has developed into a good mix of
hedgerow and grassland, but now needs maintenance to ensure that the hedgerow, along
with brambles and oldmans beard, doesn't take over completely.
There were 11 of us in total, a good turnout considering the less than ideal weather conditions -
drizzle for much of the morning though it had cleared by the time we finished. Several arrived by
bicycle - including BC members. 7 BC members were joined by 4 Sustrans members - including the
project manager, Lydia Blake.
The work was punctuated with cries of 'cyclist', 'dog-walker', 'walker' and some debate over whether
we should be referring to 'runners' or 'joggers'. Work focused on clearing mainly bramble and
old-mans beard from the access ramp at Upton. We managed to make good progress on clearing an
extremely steep slope, and made sure that all brambles had been cleared from the pathway
before leaving. Many passers-through were appreciative of the efforts.
We didn't see any butterflies but we did uncover a frog, who hopped off to safety.
My thanks to all who participated - including those from SUSTRANS who are usually focused on
maintenance of the route, particularly as the section involved is amongst the best maintained,
and probably one of the most used sections in the area.
We hope to arrange another joint work party early in January.
A short video of the area and the work done today is available here (NB 188MB file, video runs for 2 minutes 16 seconds).
Thanks to Malcolm Brownsword for producing it.