The postponement of two events this week due to the ‘beast from the east’ at least has given us time to update the blog.
Audrey continues to build up the Trust Hut Shed at Naburn with more activities for children, more information and longer opening hours. She is becoming well known to path users and takes advantage of this to raise the profile of the project. She has been visiting a number of residential homes to develop our role in the Cycling without Age project where we are working with Bike Belles, the York Cycling Campaign and Good Gym. She has also produced workbooks for both schools and volunteers.
Early in March we will be hosting the first food stop for the Cycling to Freedom inclusive cycling ride to Selby with Voice of the Drum urging on participants on a range of adapted bikes.
Good Gym have also becoming regular visitors to the Greenway, painting over unwanted graffiti, preparing the ground for spring flowers and making bat boxes. These boxes are now up in the trees thanks to the North Yorkshire Bat Group. Phil ran a session at Brunswick Organic Nursery as part of National Nest Box week while visitors to the Trust Hut are encouraged to make more. The resulting homes will be up in the trees in time for nesting season. Birds also love hedgerows, and Sustrans are offering our volunteers training in hedge-laying as part of our policy of making volunteering more interesting and rewarding.
Phil has also prepared a programme of activities for both schools and local residents (for details see the Natural History part of the website or keep in touch through our Facebook and Twitter sites). He has also been using his creative skills to produce publicity material – banners and leaflets – as well as brightening up the website and social media pages.
As spring arrives the work load will increase and Peter has met with Community Payback to get offenders back on track with useful work in the outdoors (maybe some will enjoy the work and come back as volunteers). We also look forward to corporate groups from York Cares, especially once the Himalayan Balsam starts to peek through. We are planting wildflowers along the verges, and controlling the Himalayan Balsam will give them a fighting chance.
Volunteers love to scythe – less noisy and smelly than strimmers and better for the environment – and Sustrans are offering training in the safe use of scythes. Phil will work closely with the Sustrans Greener Greenways ecologist to agree on a joint management plan that will guide this summer’s programme. Discussions are under way with Askham Bryan agricultural college for them to help improve the northern-most entrance to the path which is close to their campus.
The local history aspect of the project is progressing strongly too. Each of the specialist area research groups has a convener, and we have scoped the likely sources of information that we will need to investigate. The website already has a wealth of interesting material and will offer a framework for much more to come. We have identified and met up with a number of rail enthusiasts prepared to share their personal archive material and have visited the Coal Mining Museum to meet their librarian and social history staff. Peter has spoken to meetings of the Old Selebrians and Selby Civic Society and has developed links with the Abbots Staith museum.
The scale of the work envisaged is such that it goes beyond the capacity of local history groups and local volunteers, and we have thus formed links with the volunteering arms of the local Higher Education establishments. Both internships and placements are on offer and we already have been approached by history and ecology students eager to take part. Graduate students at York College have already completed artwork we have commissioned to be located on the greenway, and we are erecting boards to create an outdoor art gallery for temporary exhibitions from local residents, schools and groups.
The summer term schools programme will feature artwork and Bike Belles have been commissioned to arrange a Wicker Sculpture programme, while Phil will be getting the children to decorate timber discs or pebbles to be displayed along the path.
A highlight of January was taking all 110 Year 5 pupils from the three local schools on a trip to the National Rail Museum where two highly entertaining (and instructive) workshops were enjoyed with the bonus of seeing Tim Peake’s Soyuz capsule. This month Riccall school, with its position in the centre of the Selby coalfield, will be visiting the National Coal Mining Museum for England, a day which includes an underground tour of the old deep mine. In the summer we return to the space theme with a visit to the Astrocampus at York University.
Other projects under development include a walking dramatization of the themes of the project, a verbatim dramatization by York University drama students of a selection of the oral histories they will collect, a visit to York University’s ‘Astrocampus’ and a history-based led bike ride as part of York University’s Festival of Ideas.