Whose ready for Spring? We certainly are! Why not join us on Saturday 25th March where well be spending our day picking up litter from Kilkeel beach. A perfect opportunity to blow away the winter cobwebs and do some good!
**FEB SCHEDULE NOW AVAILABLE**
Plenty of interesting stuff coming up over the next few weeks, and lots of opportunities to do some good!
We could really use some helpers to join us on Saturday 4th Feb to clean up all the campsites that are accumulating within the Annalong Woods, if anyone’s available please give us a shout!
We also still have places left on the Trees for Mourne Tree Planting days! Two full days (or ten hours) of planting lots of native Oak and Hazel trees will not only get you certified Tree Planting Accreditation from The Conservation Volunteers, but it will also do so much good for the landscape! Trees absorb CO2, provide vital habitats for wildlife, fungi and lichens, help towards flood control and shelter livestock within planted fields… That’s an awful lot of good to do in just two short days!
Hope to see you all soon!
Just a quick reminder that Tuesday 17th January will be the first day of our Trees for Mourne project for 2017!
We’ll be kicking things off in our Silent Valley tree nurseries, where we will be digging up our young oak trees, pruning and preparing trees for planting, and organising materials for our tree guards. It’s a lot of work for a very good cause, so any help you can give will be much appreciated on the day!
Tree Planting Accreditation will also be offered to anyone who participates in two full days (or 10 hours) of tree work. Available dates include 17th Jan/ 7th Feb / 18th Feb / 19th Feb courtesy of The Conservation Volunteers. This is a great opportunity for anyone wishing to build up their skill base in environmental management, conservation or aboriculture! Packed lunches will also be provided (subject to booking) by the lovely people from Volunteer Now on the 17th Jan and 7th Feb (please let us know any dietary requirements in advance).
If you are interested in coming along on any dates please book by emailing [email protected] or telephoning 028 417 65489, and don’t forget to request a packed lunch, steel toe cap boots or waterproof outer layers for the day!
Location: Silent Valley Gate Lodge
You’ll Need: Warm clothing that you don’t mind getting mucky
Hope to see you all there!
**New Mourne Conservation Volunteer Schedule**
Christmas is nearly here, but 2017 is just around the corner! Why not kick start your new year by joining us each Tuesday to learn new skills, meet new people and do some good for your community and environment?
Can’t wait to see you all there!
It’s that time of year again! Everyone is getting ready for Christmas; buying presents, trimming the tree and looking forward to feasting and festive fun on Christmas Day! The festivities have not stopped our Mourne Conservation Volunteers however. Each Tuesday, volunteers have come out in force to help out with vital conservation work across the Mourne AONB, enjoying the opportunity to get active, get outside and do some good!
In late November, representatives from local walking groups, the Mourne Conservation Volunteers and the Youth Rangers dedicated their Saturday afternoon to cleaning up one of the most popular walking routes towards Slieve Donard: the Glen River path.
Four campsites cleared, eight rubbish bags filled, 2 full recycling bags filled with dangerous glass bottles and broken glass lifted and enough dog poo bags to make your eyes water (quite literally…).
Thanks for helping tidy up one of our most popular walking routes and making the area a safer place to enjoy!
In early December, the MCV’s swapped Christmas Shopping for Juniper Propagation! By planting the cuttings from mature Juniper seedlings, we’ll be able to grow a large population of this priority species, which can then be planted back out into the Juniper’s natural habitats across the Mourne Mountains! Not a bad day’s work at all!
From Juniper to Hazel! Out MCV’s have been working tree-mendously (sorry) hard in our Silent Valley Gardens! Our hazel trees finally dropped their last leaves in mid-December, allowing us to begin digging up the young saplings, sorting them into groups and placing them in a temporary raised bed in the garden.
In January, these Hazel’s will be planted out on land across the Mourne landscape as part of the Mourne Heritage Trust’s ‘Trees for Mourne’ project, which is dedicated to increasing native woodland coverage across the AONB. To find out more, why not call into our offices at Silent Valley, or contact Volunteer Coordinators Alan and Katie to see how you can get involved in this great project?
In December, a beautiful 100 year old Cyprus tree fell at Dunnywater gardens right on top of the stone wall.
Luckily, our Conservation Rangers Tony, Sarah and Gareth were at hand to help, as they spent a long afternoon working alongside the Active Lifestyles team to clear branches and leaves from the site and sort out the cuttings.
The beautiful Cyprus will not go to waste however; the branches and leaves were used to make beautiful holiday wreaths with other volunteer groups, whilst the larger branches will help us repair raised beds, compost heaps and fences across both community gardens. Lastly, the old Cyprus tree trunk was such a beautiful and unusual shape that we hope to get it carved into something special for Dunnywater!
A fun filled day, and a great lesson in reuse and recycling! Cheers for all your help guys!
If you would like to help out on any of our volunteer days please contact our Volunteer Coordinators Alan and Katie using the contact details found on the ‘contact’ tab at the top of this page. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for the most up to date volunteer schedules, pictures and more! Simply search for ‘ActiveLifestylesMHT’.
Thanks guys, and Merry Christmas!
**NEW CONSERVATION VOLUNTEER SCHEDULE**
This month we’ll be focusing on bringing some festive cheer to nature, with plenty of opportunities to get involved with the preparation and propagation of native plants essential to the Mourne landscape!
There’s also a chance to make some Holiday Wreaths for your home using all natural materials straight from Silent Valley, and on New Year’s Eve we’ll be saying goodbye to 2016 with a brisk hike up Slieve Binnian, led by our highly experienced Hiker Charles McRobert (places limited to don’t forget to book).
Lots of opportunities to get out and about, to learn new skills and meet new people, all are welcome!
See you soon,
Katie and Alan
Don’t forget your hats and scarves this Saturday for our Litter Picking event up the Glen River. Meeting at Donard Park car park, we’ll be making our way up to the river trail in order to clean up one of the most popular routes to the Mournes! A great way to get some exercise, take in the beautiful scenery and make the area safer and cleaner for everybody to enjoy!
If you plan on coming along, please contact Katie at [email protected], or by telephone on 028417 65489/ 07850 908736.
Don’t forget suitable footwear and a packed lunch!
With all the beautiful weather we’ve been having, it’s hard to believe that it’s nearly November! The Active Lifestyles volunteers have been out in force however, enjoying the bright weather and ignoring the slight chill in the air while we buckle down to prepare for the upcoming winter months. Here’s a few examples of what we have been getting up to this season!
In the Gardens
We’ve all been enjoying a small but satisfying harvest in the volunteer gardens over the last few months. Apples, Crab Apples, Spuds, Rose-hips and late Tomatoes have all been picked and shared amongst our dedicated volunteer teams and turned into delicious jams, jellies and chutneys by Alan!
We even had a go at pressing our own apple juice, however a kilo of apples and half a glass of juice later, we realise that there may be some troubleshooting to figure out before retrying again next Autumn!
On the 17th of September, we were treated to a visit from the knowledgeable Shelagh Henry for a lovely, sunny day of bird watching and bird feeder making. A relaxing dander along the Silent Valley Nature Trail didn’t fail to disappoint, as we were treated to the sights and sounds of Ravens, Buzzards, Gold Crests and even a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flying overhead! Afterwards it was back to the gate lodge to construct bird feeders out of plastic bottles collected from a recent beach clean. A spectacular day made better by the enthusiasm and interest shown by the volunteers who came along.
On the Beach
On a wet, cloudy Sunday, we stuck on our waterproofs and headed down to Kilkeel beach to take part in the Great Northern Irish Beach Clean! We spent the morning collecting and recording the litter along 100m of shoreline and found some interesting bits and pieces along the way (anyone need a pair of rubber overalls…?!). Afterwards our enthusiastic volunteers kept going and we managed to clear up a good stretch of shoreline despite the weather. The data we collected will be sent to the Marine Conservation Society, who organise this annual nationwide survey, and use the data to assess of the state of UK beaches. Thanks to everyone who came along and supported this important cause!
The long running volunteer path team have been hard at work over the last few months at the Glen River, repairing eroded pathways and constructing more sustainable routes along the popular trail which leads right up to Slieve Donard. The progress takes time, as each metre of path is carefully repaired under the watchful eye of Countryside Officer Phil in order to ensure that the path is not only well constructed, but blends expertly into the countryside. Working alongside these folks is always a privilege, as their experience and expertise is tempered by their genuine attachment and pride in the Mourne Landscape.
On the 1st of October we had a visit from the Northern Ireland Youth Walkers, who spent their day on the Slieve Binnian/ Slieve Lamagan col completing vital heathland restoration tasks such as constructing stone damns to retain surface water, and re-profiling peat hags. The guys were treated to a talk by Siobhan Thompson, who explained how footfall erosion can affect sensitive heathland areas; giving some much needed perspective for why the work is vital within the Mournes. The team had a great day and worked hard to complete the job at hand. Thanks very much guys!
Invasive Species Management
The cooler weather brought about great opportunities to tackle the encroachment of invasive species that cropped up over the summer. In September, the guys from the South Eastern Regional College did an absolutely fantastic job clearing bracken from the Wildfire Control Site in Silent Valley despite the wet weather (and a lot of midgeys)!
Next up, the Conservation Volunteers were hard at work at our Dunnywater garden uprooting Himalayan Balsam plants that were overtaking the hedgerows and native plant species. A hard days work successfully and cheerfully completed by our hardworking volunteers!
Guest tutor Leo Cullen had us all enthralled on Saturday 15th October by his fascinating Workshop showing us the tips and tricks of the wine making trade! Using local ingredients such as freshly picked apples, Rose Hips, Strawberries, Elderberries and Plums, Leo crafts delicious homemade wines which were all available to observe and taste during the day, inspiring everybody to give wine making a go for themselves in the future! Afterwards we had a go with the apple press making delicious fresh apple juice for everyone to enjoy. A great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon!
Active Lifestyles has had a lot going on these past few months – see what we have been doing on our Facebook Page ( https://www.facebook.com/ActiveLifestylesMHT/). Here are a few snaps from the past few months.