On the 17th June of 2020 while exploring Leverhulme Park as part of a site visit to check the management plan with the current state of the parks habitats I was shocked to discover just how badly the heathland on the Tonge hillside of Leverhulme Park had been lost to the establishment of a forest. This was filmed on a livestream to Bolton Newt facebook page seen by 372 people.
The same day myself and Simon returned to the Heathland to help restore the light through crown lifting, removing scrubby plants and saplings in the aptly named 'Two Newts restore a heathland'. Any tree felling was done under strict rules, that there be no nesting birds and that we follow forestry commission guidelines, we however did come across numerous trees that posed a public safety risk and took appropriate action to safely remove or fell any dangerous pinned or unsafe leaning trees.
On the 19th June, you guessed it, myself and Simon returned for further work in 'Take Two, return of the Heathland'. The video was seen by 418 people.
On the 22nd June we returned for the volunteer work with myself and Simon carrying out the restoration work as a vista began to open on the hillside, making progress to connect the two formerly seperated heathlands and patches of gorse. Amazingly we discovered common spotted orchid and a Brimstone butterly. We livestreamed a video at the end of the day 'Heathland recover task day 3' which was seen by 280 people.
After pushing ourselves to exhaustion we took a break to do some organized balsam bashing but as addicted as we are to finishing a project we returned on the 13th July, we finished the volunteer work with a video named 'Heathland Recovery - Leverhulme Park - task day 4' which was seen by 417 people. We even discovered patches of Raspberries hidden in the undergrowth!
On the 17th July, as the work continued, volunteers from the community began to join us, it wasn't just myself and Simon but Gavin, Martin and also Ryan. What would have taken us two to three days could now be done in a single day of volunteering. Instantly the difference was noticeable as a beautiful vista opened up on the hillside from Tonge down to the brook.
Onthe 22nd July, you guessed it, we returned. Volunteers Gavin, myself, Simon and Ryan had been busy at work restoring the heathland and came across a great idea. Why not use the stumps to make free standing carvings?
Despite each video documenting our progress, we had actually carried out between 14 to 20 days of volunteering on the heathland. We had finally made it to the top of the hill, discovering yet another little secret, fly agaric in an abundance under the trees and mushrooms we couldn't even identify.
It was approaching the end of the project and we had now just completed our goals and aims but took them even further than we imagined. We greatly appreciated Ellitot, George and Beccy joining us to help with the volunteering and we set about carving mushrooms into the hillside stumps for families to enjoy as a finishing piece to our work.
On the 5th August we finally finished our project, it had taken two months and days of volunteering to restore the habitat. Joined by Leanne, Simon, Gavin and Tom we made wood sculptures, owls, mushrooms and faces on the tree stumps. A fantastic finish to a fantastic project that will be enjoyed by thousands of people who pass through the park every year.
We hope you enjoyed watching our diary of the transformation of the heathland. If you're interested in volunteering with Bolton NEWT, please email BoltonNEWT@gmail.com