|They knew we were working today|
Though everything was sodden, Terry got the fire going with little difficulty. True, he did have a little help from the embers of the previous day’s fire, but his nurturing and judicial feeding of it ensured success. It was soon a furnace. There were two fires on the go that day. We were with Terry; the other lot’s fire was rubbish.
|Terry gets things going|
|Fanning the flames|
We were starting the New Year much as we had ended the old one by having a good burn-up. Not rhododendron this time, but brash left over from commercial felling of western hemlock. Substantial swathes of the Gibside estate were planted out with an assortment of fast growing conifers and some hardwoods – mainly sycamore. This patch in the West Wood had been planted in the 1960s by the Forestry Commission and now, nearly sixty years on, is ready for harvesting. For the time-being the sycamores remain.
|A real fire|
|The other lot|
|Mary gets down to work|
With the start of the Skyline Walk no longer defined by the felled trees, something will need to be done to mark the route. This is not because walkers will get themselves lost - for it is a short and obvious way to the next distinct section. The reason is simply to encourage visitors to stick to the path, and not trample the woodland floor as the area regenerates with native flora and fauna. It may be a while before that process becomes obvious, and it may need a little help with some selective tree planting, and a lot of help in uprooting the thousands of western hemlock seedlings that will want to reclaim their territory, but it will regenerate quicker and better without unnecessary interference.
|The Cleared Area|
A substantial area of the West Wood beyond this small patch is already being harvested by Forestry Commission contractors, and that will mean more brash for burning. Environmentally that is regrettable, but there is simply too much of it to deal with by alternative means. The other lot had better hone their fire lighting skills.
|Tree Fellers collecting their logs|
Steve Wootten & Phil Coyne