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Friday, 3 July 2015

Guest Blogger David Carr on the Riddy Wood Project

David Carr (left) recently graduated game management student from Reaseheath College shares his experience of visiting The Riddy Wood Project. Dave and his colleagues spent three days at Riddy Wood helping to set up the main camp site and outdoor classroom.

Our first trip to Riddy Wood Cambridgeshire was an interesting one, from being stung by nettles, eaten by flying multitudes and being kept awake by a very confused Muntjac.

Our first job was to all fit in the Land Rover, what would seemingly be an easy task turned into quite an adventure - at least for those poor souls in the back at the very least. The journey was long but everyone was in good spirits.

First however, we were to clear some of the brash and nettles away from the woodland floor to make way for 'base camp' so, with limited tools (some felled hazel) we whipped and slashed the nettled area, forcing as much of it down as we could. After an hour or so, the base camp area looked good enough to begin work on the more permanent structures that would eventually form a part of the 'Riddy Wood accommodation and Classrooms.'

The next day was spent clearing more brash, creating dead hedges and burning what seemed half the forest at the time! Half of the group was encouraged to take down an old pheasant pen that was used in the wood and had been left abandoned, it looked big and in it's defence was very substantial as it took quite a few days to bring it down. I had settled down into a routine of processing felled trees/brash ready for either fire or for dead hedging whilst others worked on either larger tree felling, the pheasant pen or creating the remaining shelters/classroom.

Richard had now left us and we used some down time to relax a little whilst we worked. It seemed that although the 'cool camp' was at the bottom of the wood, it was also where the insects liked to hang about too, so the majority of the boys down there had virtually been eaten alive! 

'The Bottom Camp' was the camp set up in February to house us while we were coppicing the first coup and seemed to be popular with the students from Reaseheath. 

Where as up in 'base camp' we got off quite lightly. Over the course of this day we disturbed many different species of invertebrates which we were new to us and were documented for future identification;

Rhino Beetle

Lesser Stag Beetle 

It was apparent that Geoff had woken up at the sparrows' the next morning as we were treated to the unmistakable sound of his .243 going off in the distance. I must confess my disappointment when he arrived at camp armed only with what can only be described as a Sleepy Hollow rabbit instead of the Roe buck he'd been after. But this is something we could try for later during a deer drive in the neighboring wood.
The rabbit was skinned and as the group continued to 'work' (or not as the case may be) the roast chicken dinner we had promised ourselves was soon underway with rabbit being now on the menu as well. 

Chicken roasting in the Dutch oven with a rabbit side dish.  

After the good dinner, we decided to relax for a while and then we went on the deer drive in the next wood. One thing has become abundantly clear from my experience in the woods with my colleagues. Silence is GOLDEN, in fact, it's an outright rarity with us lot, so the chances of even seeing a deer were minimal, least of all driving one into the firing line!
Once we'd tried and subsequently failed, some of the guys went to invest in the local brewing economy whilst the rest of us flaked out at camp. 

The next morning saw a visit from the local radio station for an interview with Geoff, those of us who were around the camp at the time busied ourselves for no other reason so as not to look silly.  the interview went well (in my view) and it wasn't long until the rest of the group were up and about doing bits and bobs around the camp. 

Thanks to the students from Reaseheath College for helping out this week with work at Riddy Wood, have a look at what...

That day we would be going to Woburn Abbey to see the various deer species. (if nothing else, we were determined to see at least one deer, albeit a rare imported one.)

Pere-David Deer at Woburn Abbey

Manchurian Sika Deer at Woburn Abbey

After a take out at a well known fast food outlet, we headed back to camp ready for our big journey back in the morning. 


Thanks to Dave for sharing his experience at Riddy Wood; Dave and the students from Reaseheath were all studying on the following programmes;

Also starting at the college this September is the Environmental Archaeology and Bushcraft course; there are still places left so sign up now

Thankyou to all the students who have volunteered and helped out at Riddy Wood over the last few weeks, your help has been much appreciated and you're welcome back any time. 


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