Greenway clean up on 7th August

Just two hours in the hot sun, a rewarding time nonetheless. The small group of us picked litter with our long-handled grabbing tools. Useful when reaching into bramble or lifting out syringes, often complete with needle. Luckily we had a trained person who had her sharps box for safe storage of these dangerous items – Lynsey, one of the Council Rangers. Drug-taking is one of the unintended consequences of creating a quiet, green space complete with secluded corners. Five or six sacks of bottles, cans and plastic food packaging collected, and one of the city’s rental cycles found at the north end, vandalised and abandoned (later reported to one of the schemes mechanics working one a bike on the Lewes Rd).

It was probably ridden here from one of the road access points further south, since it could not have been pushed up the cycle rolling track beside the steps, as it is unusable since a new handrail was placed between the steps and the rolling surface!!

A good example of left hand being unaware of plans of the right hand!

Tagging is an ongoing issue (all over the city, not just here). Not just the wall, but concrete seats and the litter bin attracts this sort of expensive vandalism.

All along the east side there are brick columns which once supported a factory floor spanning the whole Greenway – part of the long-gone locomotive building and maintenance workshops. Some columns support lots of wildlife-valuable ivy,

others display arty exaggerated railway worker’s equipment. One of our number spent time clearing the bramble and nettles away from the base of one of these latter columns to better display the art – but will it encourage more tagging? Wait and see.

Shovel on column – even the up-lighter set in the ground beneath was still working.

In the early days of the Greenway it was decided to install steel wires on the west side area of blind brick arches, then plant a non-native vigorous climber to go up them. Vandals soon removed the wires, and now the vine swamps native hawthorn and other shrubs.

Vitis coignetiae – the crimson glory vine, busy supressing the natives!

Between Boston Street and Stroudley Road the path runs beside a very overgrown planting bed. Very overgrown because a rich topsoil was deposited in the constructed concrete trough – it should have been nutrient-poor medium to encourage grassland wildflowers to dominate. We hope that chalk will be made available to replace or at least cover this soil, meanwhile all we can do is cut back the rampant nettles when they start to lean across the footway. We had planned to dig out the nettles and stuff, but digging has been forbidden because there may be services in the soil. Strange that was not an issue when the Council rotovated the ground or when we had permission to plant a series of shrub hedges at intervals. Perhaps all will become clear in due course.

To end on a more positive note – on the more formal southern part of the Greenway there are some rock filled gabions which offer habitat for lizards, slowworms and many insect species. I cannot say whether they are well used, but they have potential. With a warming climate larger European lizards may find their way here – rather like the ones to be seen in Ventnor, Isle of Wight. Gabions of rock are well established homes for these big and beautiful beasts there.

Rock-filled steel wire baskets (gabions) in the south section of the Greenway.
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