Lockdown in the valley

A slightly belated update this one: due to lots of stuff going on. However, as life creeps inexorably back to normal it seems like a good time to pick up the reins of the Friends of Gill Beck project again.

Lockdown has seen an enormous increase in people, especially young families, using the valley -which is great. Fantastic for them all to be able to get out there and mess around in the beck and the woods. We’re incredibly lucky to have such an amazing place on our doorsteps.

The beach on the Gill Beck at Tong Park

Hopefully a connection with the local landscape and nature is a legacy of the current crisis. The flip side of this is a big increase in litter: I suspect that, for many people, there’s nowhere else to socialise. For several weeks we’ve been collecting bags of litter including vast numbers of bottles and cans from the bin by the dam. The owners have thankfully granted us vehicular access which means we can now drive down and pick it all up. Although sometimes it feels like a bit of a chore I think, at least, the party people are putting their trash in/next to the bin rather than in the bushes. I know that quite a few people have been helping to gather up some of the mess and put it ready for collection -which is a big help and much appreciated. We perhaps need a bigger bin!

It’s been suggested that we’re suckers for punishment taking on his job…but sometimes it’s good to have a purpose in life and I reckon there’s definitely less rubbish in the bushes since the advent of the FoGBV bin.

This is also the first run out for the FoGBV logo:

We are planning on using this, discretely, on some fence posts at entry points to the valley to generate some interest.

We’ve also been tackling the footpaths in one or two places. Mainly the heavily eroded section East of Spring wood.

Footpath engineering

This is going to be an ongoing project for a few months. Hopefully we can get it in decent shape before next winter. Bradford council have generously offered some aggregate to surface the path….but not a helicopter to get it to the bit where it’s needed. Muscle power is going to be required. A bit of socially-distanced labour should be possible I think.

Finally, a bit of a photo-gallery of recent bits and pieces:

Large Skipper on Vetch: Willow Lane 30/5
Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa Tong Park 31/5
Crosswort: Gill Beck 31/5
Yellow Pimpernel Spring Wood 31/5
Cuckoo flower on Hollins Hall golf course: making the most of the break in mowing
The dam is properly blue at the moment due to dye which the anglers use to control the growth of weed. As far as we know this is not directly harmful to wildlife. Obviously weed has its advantages for wildlife…but we an understand that too much weed is a problem for anglers.

Friends of Gill Beck Valley in 2020

After a little pause for contemplation it’s been a busy week for environmental activity chez FoGBV and an opportunity to put together a picture of what we want to do and how to achieve it.

Firstly, I think we have established that none of us really relish the prospect of lots of admin or formality.  Let me know if you do -there’s a place here for you!!  But, happily, we have the reassuring presence of the Aire Rivers Trust to help us. They are a well-organised charity with a wealth of experience and a network of co-workers whose aims are well aligned with ours in many respects (albeit focussed on the waterways).

Aire Rivers Trust https://aireriverstrust.org.uk/

Secondly, we are becoming aware of the diversity of amazing environmental organisations locally. Including…

Bradford Urban Wildlife Group https://buwg.vpweb.co.uk/default.html

Bradford Environmental Action Trust http://www.beat.org.uk/

Bradford Ornithological Group https://www.bradfordbirding.org/

Baildon Swift Group https://www.facebook.com/baildonswiftgroup/

Friends of the Earth Baildon https://friendsoftheearth.uk/groups/baildon

Sitting in on the meeting of the Friends of Bradford Becks (affiliates of the Aire Rivers Trust) this week we were very impressed with their effectiveness in improving the watery environment across the other side of the Aire from our patch.  Much to be learned from them.

On Thursday we convened our own little assembly in Baildon with ten pioneering attendees weighing in.  We are very grateful to Nick Milsom from Aire Rivers for being there.  Outcomes in brief summary:

  • We are currently resolved to remain a humble contact list and group of spontaneous conspirators rather than a more formal membership association with written constitution etc.
  • We can seek to collaborate with bigger organisations where necessary: including those listed above and also, importantly, Baildon Town Council and Bradford Countryside Service.
  • We will produce a digitised map of the valley accessible to all of us which can be annotated by us with points of interest, projects on the go and things needing attention.
  • We will produce an information board for a central site at Tong Park dam (with permission of the owners) focusing on the wildlife, human history of the valley, access points and giving contact details for ourselves to promote interest and generate new particpants. Plus smaller notices at main access points (Low Springs, Ladderbanks Lane, Hawksworth Lane footpath, Lonk House Lane).  We perhaps need a little logo too.
  • Recording of fauna and flora in the area will be an ongoing project over the years.
  • We will continue with ongoing projects: bird and bat boxes, litter collection and bins, footpath maintenance, pollution monitoring, wildlife recording and friendly overtures to the various landowners with a view to opening up new avenues of environmental enhancement where mutually advantageous.

Onwards and upwards! As ever, any feedback more than welcome.