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Article & Photography: Martin Clarke

At the beginning of 2021 a small new plantation of 2.5 acres along Tyley Bottom was recognised by Gloucestershire National Landscape [formerly the AONB] as an important piece of wet woodland habitat. 100 Acer Wood Conservation Trust was then formed under a 10 year agreement with the landowner who had moved out of the area. Over 500 trees had been planted sixteen years before, unusually in blocks of different species. Some species had prospered – wild cherry and alder in particular. Others like silver birch, bird cherry and field maple had been severely damaged by squirrel and deer. The ash trees had started to show signs of ash die-back disease. Over the next two years the enthusiastic band of volunteers have removed dead and damaged trees, tidied up the loose plastic tree shields and transformed the health of 100 Acer. Over the last Autumn and Winter around 600 saplings have been planted to fill some of the gaps and recreate a mid-19th Century hedge dating from when 100 Acer was called Tuggers Ash Leaze. We dont know who Tugger was – it would be nice to find out. We hope he would have approved of our hedge-laying along the old track. Our second laying season completed our boundary hedge work, and we now wait for the hazel to grow over the next six or seven years before we do it all over again.

The Tyley Bottom valley supplies Wottons water, tapping the many springs and piped into Coombe Pumping Station and then up to the reservoir on Coombe Hill. The Tyley Brook has been raging this Winter and Spring, with so much rainfall. Every downpour sees a deposit of creamy Fuller Earth clay deposited along the banks. New springs have started up all along the valley as Coombe residents have noticed. Volunteers monitor the health of the stream every month, and regularly check and strengthen the stock fencing.

Our volunteers enjoy learning new crafts – hedgelaying for one, tree and hedge planting as well, but also hurdle making, charcoal burning, coppicing and pollarding, A dye-plant nursery is being started with woad, weld, indigo and madder. We have large nettle-beds, fibres from which might be used to make cloth in future. A new bird hide has been constructed as a base for the recently formed Wotton Wildlife Watch group for young people. With woven hazel walls, the hide is already proving a big hit. Daub is being added to the walls from stream side clay. Regular visitors include fox, badger, roe and muntjac. New ponds have been dug to further encourage wildlife.

Although 100 Acer Wood is not open to the public, occasional events are held with an annual open day featuring walks, talks and demonstrations. All are welcome to the 2023 Open Day on Sunday June 11 from 10 to dusk. Contact martin@clarkeconsult.org and our Facebook page for further information.