Volunteers improve access at the Old Hills

Volunteers got stuck in to improve access for visitors (and cattle!) at the Old Hills yesterday.

A small team of volunteers used hand tools to open up dense stands of bramble that had invaded an area of grassland at the north eastern edge of the site.  By creating routes through the impenetrable bramble bushes, cattle who return to graze here later in the year will be able to trample through and eat more of the scrubby plants further improving the condition of the habitats.  The new routes have also improved access for visitors and the team met an orienteering mapper who was delighted with all the new paths through this part of the Old Hills!

This work is part of a long-term plan to restore grassland to areas of the Old Hills from where it has been lost.  The Old Hills is registered Common Land and used to be frequently grazed by cattle and sheep.  As farming economics changed, adjoining roads became busier and more people visited, grazing the commons gradually ended.  With no animals to eat new growth, brambles, scrub and trees invaded some of the open grassland habitats over time.  

Over the last eight years, the Trust has been working with a local grazier to reintroduce grazing by cattle to the site which has gradually opened up areas benefitting butterflies, grassland flora and small mammals.