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After months of waiting for the Forestry Commission to approve our management plan, we finally received notification in November to be able to get started on the required works.

First job, to get a roadway to the wood, which started just a few days ago, with a time-scale for completion of 3 – 6 weeks. The weather conditions were fairly good, so the ground was not too soggy, but diggers and dumpers are heavy vehicles and soon turn the ground to a muddy mush.

Writing this about a week after the work started I have to say I’ve found the whole process much more interesting to observe than I would ever would have imagined. It’s now not just the 4 year-old grandson who likes watching a digger at work!

digger and dumper truck on low loader lorry

The adventure started one grey Monday morning with the light barely showing as we waited for the arrival of the low-loader lorry. Ours was probably one of the smallest jobs to have such large machinery delivered and it took some manouevering to get the lorry lined up to the gateway.

The digger delivery event effectively created a road-block for traffic travelling up and down the lane, but the event was so unusual no-one seemed to mind and were very patient.

Once the digger and dumper truck were safely unloaded it was time to walk the route of the proposed track, so everyone clearly understood how the drawings stipulated in the management plan related to the actual ground-works to be done.

6 men walking across field

Once everyone understood what was required for the track leading from the public road to the wood, the next discussion was about the processing area where lorries would need to turn. The Agent from Lockhard-Garratt had previously sprayed marks on the ground and on trees, marking out what seemed like a very big area. However, I suppose wood lorries are fairly big vehicles?

group of men talking looking at plan


Beyond the processing area is the main woodland ride, requiring some serious drainage solution if the ground is not to end up being a muddy quagmire. We walked the length designated for ditch digging and considered the configuration of the turning place for vehicles that would be required at the mid-point of the wood.

I could see the men were itching to get onto their toys and start work. The day was fast burning light and it was nearer to 10 a.m. before they actually got started and the digger tooled up for the first part of the track excavation process.

digger and dumper truck working in field

The track from the roadway, through the gateway and into the field had to be cleared ready for the removal of what was going to be a lot of earth. The term used is muck-away, which is quite descriptive really.

The digger trundled through the gateway up towards the road and carefully scooped out the first sod of earth, a momentous moment and game-on!

digger reaching forward to cut bank

Having cleared a track through the gateway it didn’t take long before a large area had been cleared ready for the terram to be laid ready for the first delivery of stone.

tipper lorry unloading stones

20 loads of stone were delivered over the next 24 hours, but the digger made light work of pulling the stones through the gateway and distributing them at the correct depth over the entrance area before the actual single-file track that was going to be established for access to the wood.

digger running over stones

I nipped back to base to catch up on some office work, but the next time I went up to the site to see how works were progressing they were already heading down the side of the field.

Within 2 days the works had almost progressed to the entrance to the wood. Looking back along the roadway it looked a fairly impressive sight to me, even though not quite finished when I took this photo.

stones on top of terram making track

A few hours later the digger and the dumper had finished their job and the track linking the public road to the wood was laid. Next up was use of a roller which slowly trundled up and down bedding the stone into the terram underneath.

Taking in the view from the wood back to the public road reminded me of a song. Yes, we now have our very own Yellow Brick Road!

stone track alongside track

At this point we both feel really enthused and excited to be able to see the realisation of proper management of Oxlip Wood a considerable step closer.

To me, our yellow road is rather like the one in the film leading the main characters on to adventures ahead. It’s certainly already proving to be a fascinating journey, in all kinds of ways.

I wonder whether Dorothy, Tin man and the Lion will be paying us a visit anytime soon?

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