Tuesday 25 February 2020

Volunteers Needed - Clearance Work at Stone Farm Rocks on Sat 14th & Sun 15th March 2020

Photo by Daimon Beail

The BMC is seeking volunteers to help with clearance work at the BMC-owned and managed Stone Farm Rocks on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th March 2020.

As part of the BMC's Stone Farm Rocks Management Plan (agreed by Natural England), a number of trees are being felled on 28th February. Harrison’s Rocks Management Group (HRMG) have asked for help with the clearance of arisings, building revetments, blocking off unwanted footpaths and associated work. Consequently, there is plenty to be done and a good turnout would be very much appreciated.

When and Where?
Meet at the main entrance to the Rocks, below the Inaccessible Boulder at 09:30 on each day where there will be a full briefing explaining what work is to be done, where the work is and giving a full safety briefing. The last part is important and particularly so for those who may join later. If that applies to you, please find the person in charge before starting any work.

What to bring?
If you have a bowsaw, loppers or pruners etc. please bring them along, but there is plenty of work to be done that doesn’t require tools.

Please wear old clothes and boots, gardening gloves and waterproofs if it’s wet.
Bring a packed lunch and a drink.

Where to park?
Parking is limited and there is an overflow car park which is in the Rockfax guidebook for info.

First Aid and Medical Conditions
We will have a qualified first aider on site both days but if you have first aid qualifications, please let the day’s event co-ordinator know.

If you have a medical condition that we should know of, please inform the Event Co-ordinator or the first aider before starting work.

Please confirm your attendance on the BMC Facebook events page link here.

BMC Event: Stone Farm Volunteer Work Weekend 14-15 March 2020

This event was organised as a major part of implementing the Stone Farm Management Plan that had been drawn up by Michael Phelan in 2019, and agreed by the BMC’s Harrison’s Rocks Management and Land Management Groups. Because the site is a SSSI, English Nature’s agreement to the plan was obtained and they gave a Consent to cover the work in March 2019, which lasted to March 2021. A proviso was included in the Consent that any tree felling had to be done in the winter months and before the end of February to avoid birds nesting. Although, we could have delayed the tree felling to 2021, we wanted to get it done sooner rather than later, and it was done on the 28th February. A further complication was caused by the Coivid-19 crisis, and to this end Michael provided hand washing facilities on site. The event took place an just before the BMC stopped all its events. With the wisdom of hindsight, there was an element of social gathering in the Event but most of the time participants were working on their own.
We had arranged for the tree surgeon to cut the trees into lengths that could be carried by volunteers to where we needed them, and in one case for a much longer length that to be left exactly where we wanted it. The objective of the workday was to move to clear the arisings, build revetments, block off unwanted footpaths and to do associated work, including putting up one of the new BMC signs at the lower entrance to the Rocks in a position that would be more readily seen after the entrance had been repositioned by the owners of the land, now a vineyard, to the south of the Rocks.
Attendance was somewhat lower than at the Harrison’s workdays in January but a total of 19 person days work were done, including four people who attended on both days. Most of the tree felling was aimed at opening up a group of previously shaded and usually green boulders between Stone Farm Pinnacle and the Inaccessible Boulder, including the Hippo Buttress / The Pleasure Dome. English Nature had previously advised us to arrange for a bryophyte survey to be on these boulders, which Michael arranged and this showed that there were no rare species of moss that needed to be protected. Stone Farm is now more popular with boulderers than climbers, and it is hoped that opening up this area will relieve the pressure on the popular bouldering areas.
On the workdays:
New revetments were dug in, and old ones were reinforced for approximately 100 metres along the foot of the Rocks.
Steps were dug in in various places, particularly between the foot of Undercut Wall and the small oak tree that we want to save.
A number of unwanted footpaths were closed off with logs and arisings.
Mud/sand was brought up from the bridleway and were used for infilling the revetments and covering the path below the Rock.
New posts were put in for the new notice board and the new BMC sign at the entrance below the Rocks.
The work that still remains to be done includes putting in bolts in the Stone Farm Crack area, where the rotting tree stumps that used be used for top-rope belays had been removed during the previous year, and building a ‘Bug Hotel’ using some of the remaining logs.