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Despite our name WMCV work at a variety of sites around East Berks and South Bucks. We have several sites we visit regularly, although we’re always happy to try somewhere new, and there are many more we visit than are listed here.

Burnham Beeches

This lovely site was bought by a far-sighted Corporation of London in the 19th Century in order to preserve some open space for the inhabitants of London to enjoy. In the end, even London couldn’t sprawl quite this far, but the Corporation still own and run the Beeches (as well as Hampstead Heath, Highgate woods and other green spaces rather closer to home).

The Beeches consist not just of the beech woodland after which they are named, but what used to be open grazing (now being opened out again and managed with ponies, cattle and pigs), heath and bits of wetland. Tasks here tend to be very varied – clearing out the ponds, scraping turf to regenerate heather, restoring heath to provide an Adder habitat and even felling trees to restore a wetland area

We meet in the Beeches at Victory Cross. This is handily placed beside the little outdoor cafe which does a very good bacon sandwich…

Cliveden Estate

This National Trust estate is now probably more famous for the Profumo affair and its plush hotel than its grounds.

It was badly hit by the 1987 hurricane, and we have planted more than 2000 trees here. The river cliff provided some of the most challenging tree-planting conditions we’ve ever encountered (abseiling equipment would have been useful, put it that way).

On one of our “bashing” tasks at Cliveden we came across an abandoned orchard and pressed the National Trust to rescue it. The Round Garden is a 150 year old circular orchard in which apple and pear trees were trained over cast iron hoops. Eventually the National Trust was persuaded to restore this 150 year old circular orchard. We cut back laurel trees which were growing over the fruit trees, ring-barked 50 foot ash trees growing in the orchard and generally cleared the site. Now damaged and missing hoops have been replaced and new fruit trees planted among the few remaining veterans.

Beyond the parterre Cliveden has an area of chalk grassland, which is a beautiful and little know place to visit in the summer. We removed unwanted trees and ragwort.

Bisham Woods

Bisham Woods is the only site in Berkshire owned by the Woodland Trust. We appear in the Maidenhead Millennium book “Three Days in May” next to a large pile of tree guards that we had removed from tree planted following the 1987 storm. We clear unwanted trees from beside the rides and ponds to encourage the ground flora to grow and let light into the pond.

A few years ago the Woodland Trust realized that they also owned the chalk grassland meadow next to Quarry Wood Road. Since then the field has been mown by the Woodland Trust and we have raked off the hay. This is to reduce the nutrients in the soil to reduce the rank grass and increase the diversity of wild flowers.

Braywick Nature Centre

This is a site on our own doorstep in Maidenhead. We visit Braywick Nature Centre almost every year to clear the pond in the Dell in readiness for the next year’s pond dipping. We also clear and plant trees in the raised area of landfill.

Englemere Pond

This large pond is home to kingfishers and the occasional visiting Bittern. It is surrounded by commercial forest and heathland. We generally clear encroaching willow and pine seedlings from the pond margins, and pine and birch from the heathland. It’s managed by Bracknell Forest.

Arthur Jacob Reserve, Horton

A great site for plane-spotters as the Jumbos brake for their final touchdown on the Heathrow tarmac apparently only yards overhead. We mainly work in the various ponds pulling out reedmace or coppicing willows at the edge.

Shurlock Row Pond

Shurlock Row pond is in a triangle formed by the junction of three roads in the centre of the village. We come here periodically to clear invasive reedmace and other debris from the pond. On 1st April 2001 our planned task was cancelled due the foot and mouth outbreak, so instead we went to Shurlock Row for a short task to clear the azolla that was covering most of the surface of the pond.