Once again the Ashtead Common Volunteers have come along to assist on Rye Meadows during July and August when they no longer volunteer on Ashtead Common. The band, led by James Irvine, have been clearing growth alongside the Rye Brook which has regrown from previous years culling.
We on Rye Meadows, are very grateful for this additional help.
In July and August 2014 volunteers from Ashtead Common and the Environment Agency joined our own small band of volunteers to clear the main culvert that runs from ashtead Woods Road to the Rye Brook. In addition they installed a new seat by the wooden bridge and cleared huge amounts of scrub from the banks. The main footpath was also improved by the addition of more hardcore.
Many thanks to all those who came along to help.
Volunteers from the Lower Mole Countryside Trust assisted by own own volunteers visited Rye Meadows on Tuesday to Thursday 7th to 9th October 2014 to clear blackthorn and hawthorn from the banks of the Rye Brook. Bramble and other scrub was also removed to let more light into the Brook.
Local birdlife obviously approved of the work as we saw a kingfisher exploring the stream now open for his fishing rights!
The photographs show the volunteers hard at work clearing the banks. Established trees were left in place and some coppicing took place where re-growth will occur over the next few years.
NCS The Challenge is an organisation which aims to bring together young people from all different backgrounds in a common purpose. Offering new experiences it gives them the chance to take on new challenges, learn new skills and meet new people. This helps discover their own talents and realise their potential whilst having fun.
10 young people came to assist us at Rye Meadows spending 4 hours cutting back the invasive blackthorn to let more light into the Rye Brook. They all worked exceptionally hard and all seemed to have a good time.
We hope to welcome "The Challenge" back next year with a new group of young people.
Our Estate Manager, Robert, has spent two weeks using a JCB and Dumper kindly donated by A-Plant to reshape some of the south bank to lower the bank and form some scrapes. In addition he has created a shelf alongside the stream where we will plant water loving plants.
Hay making on a sunny August day. These are the meadows in the sunshine with the new ponds filled despite the hot dry weather.
The Community Foundation for Surrey awarded us a generous grant to construct a large pond and scrapes in the field that has now been designated as a Centenary Field under Fields In Trust. Thanks to this generosity we were able to survey, plan and ultimately construct the pond and scrapes all sanctioned by the Environment Agency who recognised the flood alleviation this scheme would bring downstream.
Following Planning Permission granted by MVDC in 2015 work commenced on 1st April 2016 but was quickly halted by the wettest Spring weather for many years. Although we wanted to create a wetland we didn't quite want it before we started moving several tonnes of spoil off the site!
As a consequence work had to stop for a while. Even when we did continue we could only drag the spoil into a huge mound until the ground dried sufficiently to enable the large heavy dumper to move the it through Fraudings field into Jack Adams field so the grab lorry could take it away.
Thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, A Plant, we were able to keep the heavy plant on site and use it whenever the weather permitted. The pictures show the project from start with the mowed field to the end with the pond and scrapes already filled with groundwater.
Whilst excavating the ground, clay drainage pipes were discovered. These must have been installed many years ago as we were unaware of their exitence until work started. On the advice of an expert the pipes were broken up and a long deep trench dug between the pond and scrapes and the brook itself. This trench was then back filled with heavy compacted clay forming a natural barrier to the drainage. This allowed the natural groundwater to rise filling the pond and scrapes. The result was almost instant, and overnight the pond and scrapes filled.
The major ground work is now complete, but there is still some landscaping work to carry out. Another grant from the Thomas Flack Trust Fund helped us reshape the banks in the area, widening the brook and creating a shelf for water based plant life to flourish.
Thames Water have also now granted us funds to construct a wooden walkway across the wetland which will be built in 2017 by the Lower Mole Conservation Group.
If seeing these pictures encourages you get involved with volunteering for Rye Meadows, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
In October 2016 the Lower Mole Conservation Group came to complete the coppicing of the hedge from Bushey Shaw to Ashtead Woods Road, stopping at the new "Burnett" gate to what will be the workshop and yard for Rye Meadows. They came on three days and coppiced the existing overgrown old hedge, planting new hedging in the gaps, and leaving some Ash and Field Maple trees to break up the hedge.
The photos show the work in progress and completed plus show the lower section that was similarly coppiced in 2015. It is astounding how much the hedge has regrown in just 12 months. Once both sections have become established, the 'Moles' will return to lay the hedge, returning it to its state as would have been when the fields were commercially grazed by the farmer.
Volunteers clearing the blackthorn along the Rye Brook. This will allow more light into the brook. Photos courtesy of Chris Abbott's new iPhone toy!
These superb photos were taken Autumn 2016 by Ashley who's not a professional photographer but she certainly has the 'eye' for a very good photograph. Hers is the copyright but if anyone wants a full version copy, please contact email@example.com.
The Centenary Field boardwalk was sponsored by a generous grant from Thames Water and we are very grateful for their support in this worthwhile venture. The boardwalk will enable visitors to walk to the ponds and sit in peace and quiet and look over the new ponds which are gradually merging with the landscape. The ponds were created by another generous grant from the Community Foundation for Surrey, and the equipment used to excavate the ground was supplied by A Plant, another principal sponsore of Ashtead Rye Meadows Wetlands.
The bank work in the Centenary Field and other fields was funded by the Thomas Flack Trust, The Barnby Trust and Ashtead Rotary.
The aerial photos were taken by Graham Degg of Eyeup Aerial Solutions (www.eyeup.camera) and his assistance with these photos is much appreciated. The originals have much better definition but the file size is too large for uploading to the web site. Please contact Graham direct if you would like your own copies, or of course if you want to avail yourself of his services.
None of the improvements made in Rye Meadows could have been achieved without the generous support we receive from the many organisations who have either provided the necessary funds or the expertise. In alphabetical order these are:-
The Barnby Trust
The Community Foundation for Surrey
The Environment Agency
Eyeup Aerial Solutions
Fields in Trust
The Lower Mole Partnership
Mole Valley District Council
The Thomas Flack Fund
Surrey Wildlife Trust
The Woodland Trust
On Wednesday 24th May 2017 the Centenary Field in Ashtead Rye Meadows was officially opened by Col. Patrick Crowley following a commemoration and prayer of remembrance lead by Rev. Richard Jones of St. Giles and St. George's Churches. Also present was Hugh Riley, DL Deputy Lieutenant for Surrey and representatives of the various organisations who have supported and sponsored us. These include A Plant, the Community Foundation for Surrey, Thames Water, Ashtead Rotary, The Barnby Trust, The Thomas Flack Trust, The Lower Mole Partnership, Surrey Wildlife Trust, The Woodland Trust, The Trout Trust, The Environment Agency, Mole Valley District Council, Cllr. Chris Townsend, Cllr. Chris Hunt and the late Cllr. John Northcott.
On the day of the ceremony we were supported by Peter Williams (Pete Williams Entertainment Service), who supplied the sound equipment and who made a huge contribution to the recording of the schoolchildren's voices reciting the short profiles of those who fell in the Great War. In addition our thanks go to David Gillott and Andy Hendry of the Four Gables Group for supplying tea,coffee, cold water and delicious chocolate brownies to the assembled crowd.
Tkanks also to all the volunteers who contributed to the great success of this venture. We have received many letters of congratulations and appreciation, not only from the sponsors themselves, but also the many residents of Ashtead who came to the ceremony, including Chris and Sue Grayling, Cllr. Chris and Mrs. Chris Townsend, Cllr. Simon and Mrs. Cynthia Ling, Cllr. Pat Wiltshire and Cllr. David Hawksworth.
Photographs courtesy of Janet Webber, Hannah Mornement and David Baker.
Cathy Brett MA (UCA) is an artist and author whose recent commissions have included a museum exhibit, a National Park website, a French Revolution comic and an award-winning superhero book series. She lives and works in a light-filled studio at the bottom of a Leatherhead garden.
Cathy has agreed to create artwork from the photographs she has taken in order that notelets or cards can be printed for sale at Village Day and other events raising much needed funds for Rye Meadows work to continue. Follow Cathy's work on her web site below.
All the pictures below are subject to Copyright (© Cathy Brett 2017) .