“It’s a good job someone remembered to pack the gloves”, thought the Friday conservation work team as they marched purposefully through the sticky backwaters of Askham Bog near York. Otherwise everyone’s arms would’ve been peppered with the tell-tale white specks of nettle stings and spent the remainder of the day scratching themselves crazy.
Askham Bog is managed by John from the Wildlife Trust, a long-time friend of Open Country, working with us in our cause to help people with disabilities to access the countryside. John brought his new toy for us to look at too: a shiny brush cutting machine that we weren’t allowed to play with, probably for the best though.
Our mission was to help clear away unruly nettles that had sprung up in a peaceful glade area of the bog. The conservation team, nine strong, were thrilled to find a nice set of dry logs to perch on in a sunny clearing near the work area. Regulars Billy and Paul also found themselves somewhere to stretch out, sunbathe and supervise in their own inimitable fashion.
The nettles, some four or five foot in height were beginning to take over the area, meaning competition was becoming difficult for other wild flora that the Wildlife Trust were trying to encourage in the area. Plucking out these pesky weeds was a simple task, but a very important one and in the process we were treated to a frog, ‘cuckoo spit’ and some rare wild plants found only at Askham Bog.
After a decent three or four hours work (and some leisurely breaks for lunch and a nap) the area was looking much clearer, now that the nettles had been taught a lesson. We’d even had time for a quick game of ‘Where’s Les?’ (like hide and seek but with member Les who we pretend we can’t see), the usual team humour and debated the finer points of whether to begin strike action if a break wasn’t brought forward.
Speaking of Les, today he did us all proud when he skipped purposefully across a rickety old bridge that had fallen into disrepair, without a second thought. Many others who ‘know’ Les would have thought him unable to conquer such a feat but he put his doubters to shame and proved himself both confident and independent. It was a proud moment for us as he demonstrated exactly the kind of qualities that Open Country promote and encourage amongst its many members with disabilities.
Do you believe in access to conservation areas for people with disabilities?
Our conservation groups contribute to some very important projects across North Yorkshire and can only continue to do so with help from volunteers and fund raisers. If you can help us in our mission to make areas of natural beauty accessible for people with disabilities to enjoy, then contact us or leave a comment below.