Magog Down

A Volunteer writes

Sue Bradley writes:

Having regularly walked round the Magog Down for a number of years and received much pleasure from doing so, I decided a couple of years ago to contribute something back by volunteering.

I have been working as a volunteer ranger which has involved walking round the Down and checking that all is OK. I am usually to be spotted in my high-viz jacket clutching a litter picker in one hand, rubbish bag in the other and binoculars round my neck as I make my way around the car park and along the paths, trying to keep the Down a clean and pleasant place to visit. As I go around I keep an eye out for problems such as broken gates, overgrown paths, vandalism (sadly we do occasionally suffer from it), dogs off lead where they should be on lead on the Down where skylarks nest, etc. An important part of my task, I feel, apart from representing the Trust, is to admire all the lovely dogs that visit us with their owners who, on the whole, are as friendly as their dogs. However, this is an optional part of the job!

I think that my strangest job recently, was to help a lady whose wellington boots had got stuck halfway down her legs; I had to pull them off her so that she could drive home! What a service we provide on the Magog Down!

Life is never dull when you volunteer! Walking round the Magog Down is a joy (unless it is raining and because you are a volunteer you don’t have to go out in the rain!). There are wonderful views from the top of the hill, good exercise and fresh air (who needs to pay for gym membership when you can puff up and down the hill!), friendly people who stop for a chat or take the trouble to thank me for picking up litter.

If you would like to contribute in any way, do get in touch using the contact form on our Volunteering page.

Monthly Working Party: First Wednesdays

The conservation volunteers usually meet on the first Wednesday of every month, meeting at 2pm in the car park.  Sessions had been on a hiatus from December 2020 to April 2021, because of the ongoing pandemic, to help keep everyone safe.

The Rangers re-started the sessions with cautious and limited size groups from May 2021 onwards. The group usually gathers in the car park at 2pm on first Wednesday of each month. All welcome, bring good boots and gloves, plus saws, secateurs and loppers if you have them.

Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.

Working Party activities in 2018 and 2019

whitehelleborine_narrow_238Under the leadership of Conservation Rangers Nick and Claire Beale, our monthly Working Party has continued its excellent work throughout 2018 and 2019. The beneficial results of these ongoing efforts can be seen in many places on the site: for instance, the growing patches of White Helleborine (as pictured, left) in Colin's Wood, where our volunteers diligently cleared invasive tree seedings around these beautiful native plants, whose conservation status is 'vulnerable' mainly because of habitat loss.

This and many other tasks carried out by our Volunteers are so important for the ongoing maintenance of Magog Down, in particular developing the habitats that help improve biodiversity. We are immensely grateful to all who give up their time in this way.

Volunteers' efforts make our contractors' life easier

No, the Volunteers did not drive the digger pictured below! But thanks to the Working Party's hard work over several months clearing and removing scrub in the Clunch Pit, the tree surgeons and digger driver who came to do our soil scrape in January 2020 had a much easier time of it. Once again, our Volunteers prove integral to the way we manage the natural habitats on Magog Down. We can't thank you enough.


Working Party activities in 2017

The Working party continued to be active throughout 2017, meeting every "first Wednesday" at 2pm for a couple of hours of hard graft. Various tasks were completed, all of which are a huge help in the ongoing management of our 163 acres of varied Downland.

December's task was on Jane's Piece: to rake up and remove the arisings from it having been cut and cleared. This will benefit the wildflowers which we're keen to encourage. And it's a great spot for seeing the sunset!


Working Party tasks completed in 2016

Wednesday 7th December
The volunteers raked hay off the conservation margins either side of the sheep paddocks (the margins having been previously cut by another regular volunteer).

Wednesday 2nd November
Three of the usual regulars plus one long-time Magog Trust Member, first-time Working Party Volunteer, joined Jon Gibbs for a very productive session as they worked their way along most of Middle Walk, widening it by cutting back scrub.

Wednesday 5th October
Four volunteers turned up and did a great job cutting bramble in Colin's Paddock: the group managed to clear the main area of bramble there, which can now be burnt in situ before the sheep come on.

Wednesday 7th September
More Ragwort pulling: this time a three of our regular volunteers came along, and cleared the ragwort in a corner of the North Down which we are allowing to return to scrub.

Wednesday 3rd August
The Ragwort pulling in Colin's paddock was continued with a team of seven of our regular volunteers.

Monday 18th July
A special session involving a team from Natural England, aiming to blitz the Ragwort in Colin's Paddock. See News item.

Wednesday 6th July
More scrub clearance on the North Down. This task seems to be our "Forth Road Bridge", and we are very grateful for all the help with continually clearing out the unwelcome scrub, so that this area can be maintained as the beautiful meadow it has become since 1989.scrub_453

Wednesday 1st June
Scrub clearance on the North Down.

Wednesday 4th May
Working on the coppiced hedge at the bottom of Feoffee Field: clearing vegetation around the young hedge plants.

Wednesday 6th April
[not recorded]

Wednesday 2nd March
Working at the far end of the paddocks on two tasks: the removal of tree guards from the young hedge plants; and burning the arisings from the perimeter hedge which had been coppiced.

Wednesday 3rd February
Scrub clearance on the North Down.

Wednesday 13th January
Planted shrubs to fill the gaps in the Feoffee hedge.

Volunteer activities

Below are a few pictures of the many and varied tasks our different volunteers have done.

  • Christmas_07_b 005.jpg
  • Volunteers_Spe10121.jpg
  • Photo0911-001.jpg
  • DSC00473.JPG
  • Photo0144.jpg
  • DSC00472.JPG
  • DSC00481.JPG
  • MagogHedgePlantingMar09_01.JPG