Monday, 11 August 2014

Firewood for 2014

We have just started to sell firewood for 2014 and are currently experiencing a high demand of people getting ready for winter.

This year we are charging £80 per HiLux load, which equates to approximately 1 cubic metre. Delivery to local areas is included, although stacking in your wood store is not.

The price from 1 January 2015 will increase to £90 due to the price of fuel and our overheads rising.

Please contact or or call 07818 427242.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

New Ranger Team

From left to right: Amanda Turner, Owen Hibben, Jess Darwin, Rachel Forsyth, Andrew Ginner, Sandile Mthiyane, Tim Crauford

With a new team in place we thought it was about time to introduce everyone to them and what they get up to.
The team is headed up by myself, Rachel Forsyth,  providing guidance and direction (apparently) as well as still getting my hands dirty sometimes! My journey with the Trust started in June 2006 when I worked in administration at Polesden Lacey, before migrating into the great outdoors for three years at Hindhead and Black Down on the Surrey/ West Sussex border. I am then supported by three Area Rangers, Tim Crauford is responsible for Cliveden and is our longest serving team member, having started out as a Long Term Volunteer, he then had a brief flirtation with the Gardens team before becoming a Forester and now a Ranger.. phew! Owen Hibben who manages Maidenhead and Cookham Commons, started in June and came from Thomson Habitats who are based in Guildford, he had previously managed lots of smaller projects and has a degree in Wildlife Conservation.  The newest member of our team Andrew Ginner, will work between Tim and Owen to help with planning work across both sites and will also manage our two lovely Rangers, Jess Darwin and Amanda Turner. Andrew has most recently been camping out in the Forest of Bowland monitoring Hen Harriers and making sure no pesky intruders interfere with their nest.  Jess and Amanda have been heavily involved with the Round Garden project and we are pleased to say it has come on leaps and bounds in the last six months. Jess was an Academy ranger who joined us from Attingham Park in Shrewsbury and she now mentors our Academy Trainee Sandile Mthiyane. The Academy Programme used to be called Careership and is how I started my journey within the Trust, so it just demonstrates how valuable this course is. Trainees attend college in blocks and then spend the rest of their time on a property being a part of the team and completing projects. Sandile comes from South Africa where he worked on a big game reserve and worked at Port Lympne Zoo in Kent before joining us here. Last, but by no means least, is our current Long Term Volunteer Bruna Remesso who has been with us since September last year. She has been building up her skills and knowledge and will be an Academy ranger herself in September in Snowdonia.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Softcat spring into action

Last week the ranger team at Maidenhead and Cookham Commons were supported by a very motivated group of representatives from Marlow-based company Softcat.

The aim of the day was to clear a woodland ride in Maidenhead Thicket of scrub and brambles to give more delicate woodland flora a chance to flourish and to create a more variable plant age structure (cue biodiversity!). The crew soon tackled tasks such as cutting, raking, log splitting and even scything and it didn’t take long for the ride to be transformed completely!

To make the day perfect we were continuously rewarded with sunshine and weather that generally was reminiscent of the coming of spring.

We’d all like to thank the Softcat crew for their very impressive day’s work!

Academy Ranger

Monday, 20 January 2014

New ride in Maidenhead Thicket

For those of you who have been walking in Maidenhead Thicket of late, you'll notice a bit of a change as you come across the footbridge over the A404. 

We've made a start on our new ride which will run from the end of the footbridge and eventually link up with the grassy glade in the centre of the thicket.

In short a ride is like a corridor through a woodland. It allows a lot more light and heat to the woodland floor which encourages growth of all sorts of nice flowers and shrubs. It also provides a better habitat for everything from beetles, to butterflies and moths, small mammals and birds. This document from the Forestry Commission gives some good information.$FILE/ewgs-on011-ride-mangt.pdf

Our ride will take around 5 years to complete and will run along a broadly east to west line.

And what have we done so far? Well we've just started..... We've cleared a large area on the western side of the footbridge. 

We've felled some large trees to allow more light in and stacked the wood at the side. 

We then plan to come back to process this for firewood and remove it for sales. Other wood and brash we have stacked at the edges of the ride which will provide some nice habitat as it rots back into the soil.

We will be working on this for a few years to come so do pop down and have a look.

Area Ranger


Friday, 17 January 2014

A flood plain in action

Now that the Thames flood is on the retreat and most of the flood plain is visible as land again, it is time for some impressions of the landscape as it looked last week.

The first few pictures were taken from the road crossing Widbrook Common (between Cookham and Maidenhead).

The following photograph shows the Thames flood plain as seen from Cliveden, with the actual river running along the lower half of the picture.

Let’s hope for a dryer but colder couple of months to keep the water in check, nature from reawakening too early and us in front of a blazing log fire with a hot cuppa!

Academy Ranger

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


Sometimes our jobs as rangers are really really tough....... Every year the National Trust sends us out to spend hours and hours looking at trees.  

Ok so it's not tough at all. In fact it's brilliant! As most of us are big tree fans (and occasionally huggers) it's rather a pleasant way to spend a day.

But there is slightly more to it than that. We are not simply looking at trees. We are surveying them for safety. To keep a long story short all of our sites are zoned by how many people use them. This includes where our land borders roads and houses. We then decide on what to survey when and how regularly.

We follow the same approach in surveying every tree. We are looking for telltale signs that the tree may be unsafe or in decline. These signs include fungi, split trunks, split branches and other symptoms which may suggest it is not doing so well. 

We make a record of all of these and then, in cases of large trees, use contractors to make them safe.

Where possible we try and keep the trees or if they do require felling, we try to leave as large a column of trunk wood as possible. 

This is a massive job that we have to do every year. it would take one ranger alone a full 2 months to do the entire thing. We'd best get back to it....

Area Ranger

Thursday, 9 January 2014

News from the Brick and Tile Works

Throughout 2013 the Brick and Tile Works underwent a continuous makeover which has seen a fantastic transformation of the entrance area.

In the first phase scrub and some trees were removed from along the road, letting in lots more light in the process. That area was then levelled and cleared of rubble to allow for the sowing of a wildflower patch. It came along beautifully in summer and was cut using a scythe in autumn, with the grass being removed to lower nutrient levels.

A lot of the brash from the clearance works was chipped and the wood chip then spread further back along the trail to create safe ground coverage for the play and picnic area.

Summer and autumn saw the installation of a post and rail fence along the road, a notice board and picnic tables (both funded through the English Woodland Grant Scheme) and the creation of a further wildflower patch down the middle of the clearance. Before Christmas we finally tackled the play area using larch logs from Maidenhead Thicket for balance beams, stepping blocks and seats. We also coppiced willow rods from around the ponds to construct a willow tunnel, with the rods hopefully to re-root next year and then do what willow does best: sprout!

But we are not finished yet! Further ideas for 2014 include the installation of way markers, updated interpretation panels, a ‘rejuvenation programme’ for some of the buddleia to support the butterflies and ongoing pond management with another newt survey planned for spring.

So you see, the Brick and Tile Works will continue to receive attention and keep us busy.

I would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone involved in this project and especially our volunteers, who put in many days of hard work and whilst digging were often faced with the reason why this site is called the Brick and Tile Works!

Academy Ranger