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2017 January - Hedgelaying

28th and 29th January


Volunteering on a heritage railway does mean opportunities to learn some unique skills – usually related to engines, carriages or track. One new skill a large gang decided to learn last weekend was hedgelaying. Properly managed native hedges provide us with a good sheep-proof fence, look more traditional than wire fencing, create wildlife habitats and help prevent soil erosion.

A couple of regular volunteers had taken part in hedgelaying courses and they offered to teach others their skills. A good cross section of volunteers came along - drivers, guards, firemen, various committee members, outdoor gang members and people who just fancied trying something new. The majority of the gang were women, possibly something unique in the heritage railway world! Although it did mean we had plenty of tea, coffee, biscuits and cake.

The aim of the weekend was to continue the hedgelaying already achieved along Doldeheuwydd Bank, between Brynglas and Dolgoch Stations. The exisitng blackthorn bushes had grown high, blocking the views from the train up towards Cader Idris. The bushes were cut back and selected branches were ‘pleached’ – laid down horizontally and interwoven with upright stakes to form a framework for new growth. Over the next couple of years the new shoots will be cut and trained to form thick hedges. New bushes will be planted in the gaps.

The gang worked in two teams – one to work on trimming back the bushes and one to take the accumulated ‘boscage’ by train to the dumping site near Dolgoch. Volunteers rotated between teams to get a break - it’s hard work sawing branches, pleaching and bashing in stakes! Everyone had a great time and we’re looking forward to the next hedgelaying weekend.

Many thanks to Becky, Dave, Keith and Chris for organising a brilliant weekend.

Article by Karen Willans. Photos by Sarah Freeman, Keith Hayes, Martin Lester, Karen Willans and Andrew Young




The hedgelayers and train with plenty of boscage to collect
Laying branches
Pleaching a branch ready to lay
Saturday hedgelaying progress
Geting rid of the boscage from the hedgelaying by the lineside
Halfway there - Saturday progress
Sunday's section before work begins
Pleached branches
Pleaching with an axe
Loading up the boscage train
The Hedgelaying Gang and their work in progress
Hedgelaying - newly improved views up Doldeheuwydd Bank
Final view of the weekend's work as the last of the boscage is loaded up

Source: Latest News

Posted by Peter Bowyer on 30 January 2017

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