The balsam bashing season is over for 2015, and thanks to our wonderful volunteers, a Derbyshire County Council grant, and donations from local businesses, it was the best one yet!

Here’s the year in (if anything, under-estimated) statistics:
•17 organised events (including one intrepid abseiling session)
•over 30 known volunteers
•an estimated over 100 hours of volunteer time on organised bashes, – estimated value of around £700 (based on min wage)
•£500 DCC Greenwatch Action Grant, spent mainly in local shops and businesses

The areas we focussed on were The Torrs (Sett Valley from trail to Archie), Goytside(from Archie to railway viaduct), Mousley Bottom (around riverbanks and on DCC land), and The Picker. River levels were quite low, which helped us safely access the banks. The Torrs, Mousley Bottom and Goytside had been tackled last year also, and much less balsam was noted in these areas. We were able to extend clearance further up the riverbanks in Mousley Bottom, and DCC/NMTC undertook some brushcutting which greatly helped tackle some of the large swathes choking the meadows. The Picker was a new area for us and, with the permission of the landowner, we took on a demanding task; there are an abundance of wild plants and picking individual balsam plants colonising new areas was hard going. The area was alive with insect life so this deserves to be an area we continue to give more attention to to keep the balsam at bay.

We would especially like to thank:

  • all the volunteers and supporters
  • Derbyshire County Council (for Greenwatch Action Grant and help from Countryside Section)
  • New Mills Town Council
  • landowners
  • our generous sponsors: Butterfly Cafe, Llamedos, Pulse, Manchester Giants basketball team, and Spring Bank film club, for donating prizes to the raffle that every volunteer was entered into
  • New Mills Festival (for help arranging the insurance).

Things to look out for next year include:

  • DCC have offered Health and & Safety  training for brushcutting
  • the involvement of more groups, for example the Scouts, who have expressed interest
  • a new pocket guide to balsam bashing

Hope to see you then!

Finally, here’s some photos:

Happy bashers at the Picker

Happy bashers at the Picker

Evidence of recent pulling activity

Evidence of recent pulling activity

What we are trying to protect - the variety of wildflowers and grasses at The Picker

What we are trying to protect – the variety of wildflowers and grasses at The Picker

Oak and hawthorn saplings given a chance, The Picker

Oak and hawthorn saplings given a chance, The Picker

Balsam free around Salem Mill, the Picker

Balsam free around Salem Mill, the Picker

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