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On Sunday 28th February, SUCV returned once again to idyllic Edale to assist the National Trust High Peak Estate with their afforestation project. The weather forecast was good, but after meeting at the train station we found the train to Edale so packed the ten of us could barely fit on. Apparently the previous train had been cancelled, thus explaining why the usually-virtually-empty train was so full early on a Sunday.

After arriving in Edale and meeting up with the rangers of National Trust High Peak Estate (and their pooches, as always), we took a short drive to Jaggers Clough, our work site for the day. I had been here once before, under very different weather conditions. At this time of year, however, it was quite picturesque.

For our job today, we had 200 alder tree saplings to plant and this was only the tip of the iceberg, for High Peak Estate have another 2,800 trees more! Thus, we promptly set about unloading tools and equipment and preparing for action.

Planting trees isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. After placing the trees in the ground, the soil needed to be properly compacted to firmly root the tree and avoid spaces that would get waterlogged. Next, guards needed to be erected to protect them. Again, this had to be done properly, in such a way that rodents couldn’t get inside, make little nests inside and gnaw on the trees. The guards also had to be secure enough that they wouldn’t get pushed over by sheep (those little miscreants...)

We split up into groups of two or three and got to work. The rangers ultimately planted most of the trees and allowed us to set up the guards, which was probably for the best as the tree planting was the harder task to get right and it was most important that it be done properly.

It was nice working next to the stream and although dark clouds appeared at one point later in the day, they soon passed without it raining; in fact, today’s weather was practically perfect for conservation work. We even saw a trio of what were likely buzzards hunting together (no pics, unfortunately). Once we got underway, we found ourselves working quite smoothly and quickly, despite having to navigate tough and hilly terrain, and despite Rona and Elsa constantly pestering us to play fetch, often with the most pathetic twigs they could find.

By 2pm we had nearly finished all 200 trees, but were getting conscious that trains home were only once every two hours and we were running out of time to catch the one at 2:30. Ultimately, the rangers decided we could leave the last few trees to them as they would be back the next day, anyway.

In our rush to pack up and get back to the station, I unfortunately forgot to take a group photo (just as well as we would likely have missed the train), but I hope the rest of these photos will suffice. Thanks again to everyone for turning up and to the rangers of National Trust High Peak Estate for having us. It was a truly brilliant day!

Jamie (Task Leader)

(Thanks to Luke Blyth for some of these photos)

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