Posts Tagged ‘Working Holiday’

It’s the time of year again that some of us SSNTV volunteers got to pack up our boots, bowsaws and cake and head up north for our annual working holiday in Northumberland, staying in the NT bunkhouse and working on the fantastic thousand acre Cragside estate.

This year we had two main tasks which were to clear back the rhododendron at the base (toe) of the dam at Nelly’s Moss South Lake and to remove about a third of the reed growth in the Slipper Lake (Tarn).

Sunday saw us up at Nelly’s Moss to attack the Rhodi, aiming to cut it back by about three metres so that the dam inspectors could have better access when they come to check the dam integrity.

Lotsa RhodiLotsa Cake

Rhodi bashing is one of our favourite activities so needless to by the end of the day we had created a huge pile of cuttings and eaten a huge amount of cake. Unfortunately this time we weren’t able to burn the rhodi, as it was going to be chipped and used for path and trim trail surface covering so we had dragged it all up to the edge of the road ready to be taken away with the tractor and trailer later in the week.

Rhodi piling upsuper human chain

Monday was our wet and messy day as we donned the waders to go paddling in the Slipper Lake and attack the ever encroaching reeds.

happy wader's day!ready for action

Although these were a smaller type of reed than the ones that we regularly pull out at Morville Hall, it was just as satisfying to see more and more clear water emerge as the day progressed. We were stacking the reeds at the water’s edge to allow any little creatures to make their way back to the water before we tidied up properly at the end of the week

what a lot of reedsreed raft racing

Tuesday was our day off and the only day with persistent rain, hmm typical!

A group of us took our brollies and went over to Low Hauxley to have a look around the Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s discovery centre ( Luckily we found the tea room first and “discovered” the homemade date and banana scones there before having a nice walk around the large lake, stopping in the many bird hides to watch the wide assortment of birds that were out and about.

Following a lunchtime stop at Amble for some yummy fish and chips and with the rain coming down more heavily, we headed back to Alnwick for a visit to Barter Books and a mid-week shop for the rest of the holiday food.


Wednesday and Thursday were back to work and returning to Nelly’s Moss Lake to continue attacking the rhodi, eating cake and starting the massive tidying up operation with us filling up two trailers at a time to go round to Nelly’s Moss car park ready for chipping!

loading, loading, loading Rhodi!!how much more is there?

“Tidy” Friday was our day to finish off at both sites so our first stop was at the Slipper Lake to move the reeds away from the lake edge and leave it all looking tidy and beautiful again.

lovely reeds


We then headed up to Nelly’s Moss for cake o’clock and continued to load and clear the last of the rhodi cuttings.

see the magic walking rhodi

only one more load to go

Following our final lunch break we had a leisurely stroll back to the bunkhouse to drop off our work gear before heading up to the formal gardens to test out the new deck chairs and bean bags.

lunch with a viewand relax...

While we were there, we took up the very kind offer from Rachel the head gardener to give us a sneaky peek inside the newly restored clock tower before it re-opens to the public later in the month.

Clock towerit goes deeeep down...

This was followed by even more sneakiness as Helen and Charlotte of the ranger team treated us to a preview of the new Parkland walk and the amazing new Gorge walk that will be opening to the public very soon.

Parkland walk preview..gorge walk

And to top it all we ended up back at the visitor centre to meet up with ranger Leigh for ice-creams overlooking the lake, what a fantastic end to a brilliant working week!

the ice creams are on their way..joined by the gardeners...

Thank you to all of the volunteers, who came up to Cragside this year and worked so hard over the week, brought and made such amazing cakes and cooked such yummy food!

Special thanks also to the awesome ranger team of Leigh, Helen, Dan, Charlotte and Duncan “the elusive” for making us so welcome and making the week such fun and also to head gardener Rachel for the clock tower viewing.

Hope to be back again next year!

until next year...

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

Wenlock Edge, old quarry, Friday 7th to Sunday 9th October

Earlier in the year, a discussion took place with NT Ranger Chris – what would be better than a workday at Wenlock Edge? The answer? Three workdays at Wenlock Edge! And so the group found themselves booked in for a three day working weekend, working at a new part of the site. The location was an old limestone quarry which has long since ceased production. The National Trust recently took over management of the site. It had become overgrown with hawthorn and blackthorn hence badly in need of some volunteer action.

There is a variety of things that make the group happy: – good weather, chunky trees to chop, a bonfire, lots of cake. All of these were available in abundance!

Some of the group stayed overnight at an NT holiday cottage near Dudmaston. Ron tested his culinary skills on Friday evening, providing the group with a delicious spaghetti dish. Sheila helped out by creating an apple crumble, using apples provided by Ron from his own garden. This was washed down with a fine selection of ales, or a glass or two of homemade wine – “Rhubarb Ruin”. On the Saturday evening, the overnighters ventured into Bridgnorth for a meal in a local bistro – I am sure it wasn’t as good as Ron and Sheila’s tasty creations on Friday.

The photos don’t do justice to the extent of work completed over the weekend. We hope to be back working at this site sometime before Christmas so if you want to see it, keep an eye on our programme of workdays and come out and join us.

Read Full Post »

Happiness is a sharp tool!
Happiness is a sharp tool!

Here are some photo’s from the groups working holiday in July 2009

Matt’s Photo’s

Julie’s Photo’s

Mag’s Photo’s


Read Full Post »

Here’s some of the photos I took at the weekend…Pumpkin fun

I really enjoyed my first Firework Weekend.  Never thought I’d say this but, I may have eaten too much cake though…


Hope you all enjoyed the weekend, I know I did! I’ve uploaded some photos onto..


Read Full Post »