Hey, Presto-lee

Prestolee 25th October 2020

Updated 19/02/21

Prestolee Pocket Park, or Stoneclough Community Woodland to its friends, is a small patch of land between a housing estate, Trinity Church, and Prestolee Primary School that had been forgotten and ignored for years. That was until the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal Society (MBBCS) decided to do something with it.

Their goal was to create a green space for use by the local community, school, church and groups for events, community food growing, and other great stuff.

Raising additional cash from Kearsley Area Forum, Bolton at Home, Prestolee Academy Trust and central government funding the MBBCS approached numerous volunteer to groups to help with the heavy lifting.

In 2019 BCV began the work of constructing dead hedges and removing brash and trash from the site, this year we continue with some new plantings.

This task was supposed to have been part of our Halloween fun task but nobody (dead or alive) wore their hats. Maybe the hats were socially distancing. See the Halloween Hall of Horrors for how things used to be including Tom’s team at Moses Gate this year.

22nd November 2020

This is our last visit to Prestolee Pocket Park for this year. Autumn and winter are the best times for tidying up woodlands as birds have finished nesting and most of the leaves are off the trees. Most of today’s work involved cutting branches that were overhanging the footpath or were unsafe. We also cleared the paths of fallen leaves and trimmed back the hedges to improve access.

Although not the best of conservation tasks it was still good to get out and do something positive. 12 photos below, the last 6 are from today.

Our Back Field of Dreams

Our Back Field, Hunger Hill
4th & 11th October 2020

The work of small local groups often goes unnoticed. In 2009 the Hunger Hill Action Group established itself to develop a patch of land behind Knutshaw Crescent for local amenity. The housing estate sits on the busy A58 where there were no safe areas for children or families to play and relax, and so the Action Group was born.

The land is jointly owned by Bolton at Home and Peel Holdings who were happy to let the group use it. With the help of Councilor Bernadette Eckersley-Fallon the group set about gaining grant funding, and then began the hard work of building paths, play areas, community art, and other stuff. The project was named Our Back Field. We think that the Wildlife Trust may have been involved in the original heavy work but that’s still to be confirmed.

Seating Area
Seating Area
Board Walk
Board Walk

Fast forward to 2020 and the site’s numerous paths, open green spaces and pond had become over grown and in need of help. Chris, the original founder of the Action Group, approached Bolton Green Umbrella, who introduced her to Bolton Conservation Volunteers, and like the A Team, we love it when a plan comes together.

After delays and set backs caused by the ever changing lockdown rules, and after extensive risk assessments, we finally got to start work on the site. BCV has been following the Rule of Six since before it had a name and the work on this site was no different. The task was split into two teams of six spread over two weekends.

Reed Mace
Reed Mace
Great Crested Newt
Great Crested Newt

On 4th October the target was pond and path work, the pond, which may originally have been an old farm pond, was choked with typha (reedmace). This was dug out and pulled out to create some open water for amphibians. A nearby path also received some attention. Future work could include replacing boardwalks. Although originally meant for amenity the site has good potential for wildlife which we hope we can build on over time.

11th October. With a fresh set of six, including a new volunteer, we started the next stage of our Hunger Hill task which involved improving access through the woodland. We cut back over hanging and encroaching branches to create more room and also cut away branches behind the path to let more light through to the path and the woodland understorey. This will make the walk more pleasant, safer, and also encourage the regrowth and regeneration of woodland flora.

Most of the residents were appreciative of the work we’ve done, although one gentleman took issue with the coppicing of the big willow in the pond the previous week. This tree was cut back to allow more light to get to the pond and reduce leaf litter, improving the oxygen saturation of the pond water and so improving conditions for pond life. Historically the pond contained great crested newt and is the reason why the pond hadn’t been filled in or the site developed for housing. Rick is planning to carry out a pond survey at a later date.

The same gentleman also took issue with the drainage of the path. The pre-existing drain had been cleaned out but he believed that this act had caused the pond to backflow onto the path causing flooding. This does highlight one of the problems of volunteer work: a group of volunteers, working in their own time to benefit a community they don’t live in, can’t please everyone.

Many thanks to Christine for inviting us to help her with her plans for the site, it’s a great site and deserves to flourish. We look forward to helping out again in the future.