We are so blessed to have such marked changes in our seasons here in the UK and the Island seems to enjoy its own special microclimate. Entering the beginning of the Harvest season is celebrated by our Gaelic and pagan friends with the festival of Lughnasdh. This is the time of year where fruit is ripening and the show of summer blooms begin to give way to the setting of seeds in preparation for the cycle to continue.
The perfect time to talk about our special end of season celebration, our 2019 event of the Brading Faerie Festival and Woodfair. See further down for more details.
Bulleys Pit is a beautiful wooded glade set in Brading Down, that not everyone is aware of. Last year we opened access up from the top of the Down itself to make it easier to discover.
Do take a walk down into this tranquil oasis - there are benches and even a barbeque platform if you fancy spending a sunny afternoon there.
Talking of ripening fruit did you know we look after 3 community orchards across the Island.
Sandown Community Orchard, Merstone and Pan Country Park all have dozens of fruiting trees, free for the community to pick. What with all the luscious blackberries beginning to appear, there really is no excuse not to have that apple and backberry pie treat.
A date for your diary - The Marvelous Merstone Makeover, organised by Cyclewight, will be taking place on September 1st at the Merstone Station site. See there website for further information.
Oh and keep an eye and ear out for great green bush cricket on the chalk downland sites, the rangers spotted one at Shide Quarry last week - another real sign of the season changing as the female lays her eggs in the late summer ready to emerge next year.
Site of the month - Merstone
Merstone Station has had a revamp. This is one of our oldest Gift to Nature sites but it had started to look a little tired and there was nothing to tell the story of the railway heritage. Merstone was once a busy junction - it was opened by the Isle of Wight (Newport Junction) Railway in 1875 on the line between Newport and Sandown. The Ventnor line opened in 1897. The pine trees that border the car park were planted in 1903 to afford some protection from the wind.
We have put a railway-style shelter on the platform to afford some protection for cyclists and walkers against the wind. It also features a map of the station and some lovely photos kindly provided by Havenstreet Steam Railway. We have also doubled the number of benches, and erected a barbeque. A local artist worked with the children at Arreton School to produce the cycle racks. When the station is busy, you are likely to find an ice cream van there too. And don't forget the ripening fruit in the community orchard – you are welcome to help yourself.
July / August 2019
It’s been another month of beautiful weather, fantastic wildlife and plenty of grass cutting as myself and the Gift to Nature team have been maintaining and managing all of the sites across the Island. As the school holidays approach and tourists come to the Island for their holidays, more people are visiting and enjoying our sites making it our priority to ensure that all of the paths are wide and the viewpoints are clear, allowing everyone to enjoy the sites and experience their natural beauty, giving them the opportunity to become closer to nature and the great outdoors.
If you have been regularly viewing our Gift to Nature Facebook page you will have seen the numerous updates showing the fantastic butterflies and insects which are currently inhabiting our sites. In recent weeks I have been visiting our beautiful chalk grassland sites, including Brading down, Shide Chalk Pit, Rew down & Nansen Hill, and have been amazed by the volume and variety of butterflies & insects which are on site. One of our regular summer residents is the Chalkhill blue butterfly, which is especially eye catching and can be seen fluttering amongst the grass and wildflowers in large numbers across chalk grassland sites. They are most commonly found on chalk and limestone sites feeding primarily on the small grassland perennial Horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis comosa) and other small legume plants. They emerge between June and August and can often be seen in the hundreds in search of female butterflies to mate with. The males have a powdery, sky blue colouring with a white and black outline on the wings, whilst the females are less colourful with their wings being light brown in colour with small orange spots on the outer edge of the wings. When visiting G2N sites be sure to look out for them and other interesting wildlife and contact us with any information and pictures of your findings.
Gift to Nature have been involved in exciting developments in Newport, working closely with the Newport Rivers Group and Isle of Wight Council to help improve the local areas access. The Newport Rivers group devised a project to create a pathway within Isobel Park which will connect through to Wellesley Way. The Isle of Wight Council has funded the project and Barratt Homes is currently creating a path which both connects the two areas and allows access to the site all year round despite weather conditions. The path was designed to follow the Pan Stream without disturbing the natural banks to leave it naturally intact. It was Gift to Nature’s role to work at both entrances to the pathway, creating surfaced steps to allow easier access up a steep slope and to also provide barriers either side of a waterway ditch. It took 2 days to complete the stairs and a further day to add in the barriers across the walkway with much needed help from volunteers. Whilst the ground made for difficult digging and the heat was testing at times, it was all worth it when we finally accomplished our task. G2N will keep all readers updated to when the path will be completed.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s addition of Ranger’s blog and thank you for all of your continued support.
Until next time folks.
Apprentice Countryside Ranger
New steps going in at Pan stream
It’s always exciting to get a delivery of new stock, and the latest one has brought some gorgeous new stoneware. For any animal lovers there are stone pigs, horses, dogs, cats and hares as well as some beautiful bird baths. There are also purely decorative items such as a stone bench, small pagoda, a stone plinth, fairy toadstools and several plaques with inspirational quotes. All the stone items we sell are made to order in the UK.
You can find our shop at 12 Holyrood Street Newport – just opposite Hursts.
We are always looking for volunteers to join us in us in our lovely friendly shop so If you have a few hours to spare why not pop in and have a chat
The Brading Faerie Festival and Wood Fair
We are very excited to see the return of the Brading Faerie Festival and Wood Fair this year. Combining the two successful 2017 events into one amazing day of magical fun and discovery, designed for the whole family. With music and dancing, storytelling, demonstrations of traditional skills, quests to complete and trails to follow, plus the fairy market place.
Our unicorn petting ponies will be in attendance and bring your own wand to enter our wand making competition or help build our cardboard box castle.
Costume encouraged but not obligatory :) Face painting available on the day.
The Wildlife Trust apprentices will be demonstrating woodland coppicing skills and local woodturners will be bringing along their wares and demonstrating their traditional craft.
Refreshments available all day but feel free to bring your own picnic and relax in the delightful setting of Bulleys Pit at Brading Down.
All monies raised go to support our work.
Tickets available on our website here or pop into our shop at 12 Holyrood Street Newport, Wight Trash Skate shop in Ryde or Liliput Dolls Museum in Brading
Stylish Sites !
Did any of you spot our gorgeous Merstone Site in this months copy of Style of Wight ?
If you havent visited yet just look what you are missing !