Archive for July, 2012

Cragside 2012

21-28 July 2012

Before we get into August I feel I really ought to provide an update on the Working Holiday week at Cragside in Northumberland. With up to 12 people working on each of the 5 days, we made our usual visible difference to the landscape.

Douglas in the Pinetum

Day 1

For some, a slightly disappointing day. Working down in the valley along the Armstrong Trail, we were mostly tidying up after previous rhody clearance. Ben, Mary and I became acquainted with Douglas in the Pinetum, with him even resting his chin on Ben’s head.

Here the fire had to small and controlled, but we cleared a number of brash piles in the day and everyone joined us for Cake o’clock and lunch.

Two other fires cleared areas further back on the Trail.

Day 2

Still down on the Armstrong Trail, but a better day – clearing an area (from cutting to bonfire). As the before and after photos show, a satisfying day.

Day 2, before

Day 2, after

Day 3

The day off … nothing much happened. We had our traditional trip to Seahouses, most of the group had a boat trip out to the Farne Islands, though I opted for a bit of a wander round a graveyard in search (unsuccessful) for ancestors.

After the boat trip, the group headed to Low Newton for a drink at the Ship Inn.

Oh … and they had a quick chat with Prince Charles!

Chatting with Prince Charles

Days 4-6

A bigger project working up at the end of Nelly’s Moss South Lake. The rhododendron had started to hide the stone bridge at the end of the lake.

Before we started

From Laura:

In true SSNTV style, those Rhodies didn’t stand a chance.  The first half came down in the first day, but that wasn’t all Cragside had in store.  As usual, buried deep underneath the Rhododendron, leaf litter and soil, there lay a once beautifully landscaped rocky border, which once we realised it was there, was destined to see light of day again.  Volunteers chopped, sawed, dug roots out.  Trowels and brushes were brought in, and even a leaf blower!  The budding archaeologist came out in us all.

At the end of the week, as I drove round the Estate Drive, the sun was shining and the end result was spectacular.

Bridge over Nelly’s Moss South Lake


Note added 2/9/2012: a ‘Cragside Special’ Newsletter has been lovingly created by Mags, you can find it on our Newsletters page. It’s a good un!

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Main Drive (before)

Sunday 29 July 2012

It was a shock to the system to be asked to arrive at Wightwick Manor at 9am. But the reason soon became clear. A mammoth task – to cut down laurel hedges on the main drive between the House and the newly opened Manders’ Tearoom. Starting so early, and with an excellent turnout, we were soon making a difference, with one large hedge and a huge holly tree out of the way before the property opened to the public.

The ‘cuttings’ were cleared as they were cut, keeping the site as tidy as possible. They were dragged down the drive past the front door and thrown over a yew hedge. From there they were either loaded onto the trailer, or dragged down to the bonfire site where, by the end of the day everything had been cleared and burnt.

Once the roots have been dug out, turf will be laid and new beds will be developed. One possibility is that roses from Alfred Parson’s original design can be reintroduced.

Main Drive (after)

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We’ve updated our EVENTS page with all the latest info. Looks like we are going to have a busy few months.

If you are a member of SSNTV, contact your workday leader in the usual way.

If you haven’t been out with the group and would like to join us for a workday, we’d love to meet you  – can we tempt you with the promise of cake? Please contact us on email at Let us know which workday you are interested in and provide a contact telephone number. Typically, our workdays start at 10.15am and finish no later than 4pm. You’d need sensible footwear and clothing and bring your own lunch. Easy!

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