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A woodland staircase to escape the mud

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Posted: Thursday 13th July 2017 by Bernwood Project

Woodland staircase in Finemere Wood by Charlotte KarmaliWoodland staircase in Finemere Wood by Charlotte Karmali

The Finemere Wood volunteers come to the rescue on a muddy stretch of path at the nature reserve

Charlotte KarmaliWritten by Charlotte Karmali

Volunteer Warden at Finemere Wood, Bucks



In times of plentiful rain, a walk around Finemere Wood becomes challenging, as great stretches of oozing, squelching mud are traversed. One area in particular, deep in the wood, transforms itself into an impressive mud slide. Not all woodland walkers are keen to take on such an obstacle in their path. And so, this presents a different focus for the volunteer team, construction rather than destruction.

With guidance and supervision from Tim Read, (BBOWT’S Buckinghamshire Reserves Officer for the north of Bucks), a font of all knowledge and expertise, the team eagerly embraced the day's project of building a broad staircase of planks and stakes. These steps will prevent further slippery encounters in this part of the wood.

Volunteers creating the woodland staircase by Charlotte Karmali

A 'biotic boom' takes hold of the wood at this time of year, brambles and roses encroach across the paths and grasses grow thigh high. A prominent beauty is the tufted vetch (Vicia cracca), a member of the Fabaceae (Pea) family. Its pretty, dainty and drooping, blueish-purple flowers form long clusters on one side of the stem.

A scrambling plant, which can grow to a height of two metres, it relies upon others for support. It can be seen tangled amongst the tall grass, the tendrils at the ends of its leaves grasping on to whatever it can. These flowers provide plentiful pollen for bees, and it is also a popular grazing crop for cattle, hence sometimes known as the cow vetch.

Tufted vetch by Neil Wyatt and Charlotte Karmali

After much digging, measuring and levelling of wood, tamping of soil and wheelbarrowing of stone, the steps were complete. The volunteers admired their handiwork with great satisfaction, yet another skill under their belts.

Be prepared for a more comfortable descent the next time you take this route, there will be no more sliding down this path!

Come and join us in this biodiverse haven

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