September 2012


 

Every year judges from the Keep Britain Tidy Group visit the Park as part of the Green Flag inspection process. This begins with a desk-top assessment to ensure that the necessary management plan, business plan and safety policies are in place. Then there is the visit itself with two judges looking round the whole site.

This time QECP received a combined score of 74% which is an A grade result. The judges report will shortly be appearing on the main web-site.

Once the accredited sites  have been announced there is a second and final phase to the process. This is called the Peoples Choice Award where visitors can vote for their favourite site. Of over 1,400 potential winners the top ten are announced each year.

Last year QECP came 7th overall which was a fantastic result and one that we hope will be repeated again for 2012.

The voting window runs from the 24th September through to midnight on the 14th October.

If you would like to record your vote there is a tab on the Park’s web-site next to the Green Flag logo at www.hants.gov.uk/qecp

The Tidy Britain Group also run the Blue Flag Award Scheme which recognises beach and marina quality in the UK and 40 other countries.

For more details go to http://www.keepbritaintidy.org.uk

Loading bikes for Beachy Head

Loading bikes for Beachy Head

Over the weekend a large group of  intrepid cyclists tackled one of the hardest off-road challenges, the MaXx Exposure Night Ride.

They gathered at the Country Park during Saturday afternoon and were taken by coach to the other end of the South Downs Way and dropped off at Beachy Head.

At sunset they started the 75 mile trip back to QECP using the biggest and brightest cycle lights available and following reflective waymarkers.

Staff from Trail Break the company who organise the MaXx Exposure provided regular food and drink stops along the way and were ready at the end to help the riders in to their tents for a few hours of sleep.

 

The Trail Break team

The Trail Break team

The last riders just made it back before dawn and after breakfast the event was over for another year.

For the novice night riders there were two shorter routes available at 40 and 20 miles in length. A total of 115 riders took part in the three route options and they all finished safely.

For more information about Trail Break and the company’s next event go to www.trailbreak.co.uk

Also on Saturday there was a second cycle event, this time a sponsored ride. About 50 riders headed out along the South Downs Way. This time during daylight hours!

For more information about events taking place at QECP the Park Pages is available at www.hants.gov.uk/qecp  

Sponsored ride

Sponsored ride

September the 22nd was the Autumn Equinox, a time of year when day and night are of equal length. To celebrate this occasion a group of Druids and White Witches held a short ceremony in the Park. This was the first of a number of events that the group will be organising at QECP.

 

It is difficult in a short blog post to sum up the essentials of being a Druid or White Witch but they do both follow similar paths.

 

Druidry is a philosopy and a faith, recognising a supreme creator and linking god and nature together. The word druid is derived from the ancient words for ‘oak tree’ and ‘wise’. The link with trees, and the reason for the visit to QE Forest, is that they are most ancient living things, and storehouses of the sun’s energy which record the passage of time through their annual growth rings.

White Witches practice white or earth magic. This involves tapping into natural forces, using positive thinking, ritual and visualisation, for the greater good.

For more information about the group and their next event go to kitchenwitchhearth@yahoo.com or www.dorsetgrove.co.uk

 

Work party

Work party

As Autumn approaches there are many practical tasks that need to be carried out before the weather gets too wet and the frosts too hard. One example of this is the Park centre pond which gets cleared out every year.

The annual growth of aquatic weed is considerable and without remedial action the pond would eventually disappear altogether. Two plant species were being targeted, each with a very different strategy for dominating the pond.

Firstly, the Reed Mace, often mistakenly called the Bull Rush, whose tall cigar shaped seed heads are very familiar, producing many thousands of tiny seeds each 0.2 milimetres across. 

Secondly, and easily visible in the image above is the Water Soldier. A floating aquatic plant with brittle serrated leaves which need careful handling. Each and every plant in the pond is a female which produces about 5 new clones or offsets during the growing season season.  

The vegetation once removed will be left in habitat piles around the pond. These will be used as hibernation homes by the local amphibians .

Work party

Work party

 

On Thursday a group of 66 students from Portsmouth College spent the day at QECP helping out in the pond  and later mountain biking around the forest trails. They were studying on a course in Public Services which will prepare them for work in the Police or Fire Services, or for local authorities.

They were assisted by three staff members from Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda  who are on an exchange visit to the Country Park, and their first visit to the UK.

Both parks are twinned for mutual support and cultural exchange. For more information about this project go to  www.queenelizabethparks.org

For more details of the many practical work sessions taking place at QECP over the Autumn/Winter  have a look at the current events guide/newsletter called the Park Pages on www.hants.gov.uk/qecp

Crane replacing pipework and borehole pump

crane replacing pipework and borehole pump

For some while now work has been taking place on the Butser Hill water supply. The whole site, an area of 750 acres, is supplied by a bore hole which is located in a field to the north of Butser Hill.

The bore hole contains a submersible pump suspended 40 metres below ground level, a depth at which the water can be heard running quite clearly from the surface. At the top there is a pump house with a filtration unit. This contains  three filters, two fibre and one metal,  a chlorination unit which releases a small measured dose of chlorine in a given volume of water, and finally a UV light source that sterilises the water as it passes.   

Treatment plant

Treatment plant

Despite these measures being in place the water system has had problems meeting minimum quality standards.   This is monitored by staff from East Hampshire District Council and the Environment Agency who carry out monthly tests at the bore hole and also at the public toilets on the top of Butser Hill.

The problems have been exacerbated by the very wet weather in April and June when there was a lot of surface water run off. All the private water supplies in the local area were failing their test at this time. Remedial work has included adding the three treatment processes outlined above, replacing the 40 metres of pipework from the pump to the surface, and cleaning out and chlorinating the tanks and pipes across the hill.

From the bore hole the water is pumped to a 30,000 litre WW2 vintage concrete tank located on the eastern slopes of the hill overlooking the A3.  Then there are two further 2,000 litre tanks which are located above Little Butser and by the Trig Point. These help distribute the water to the Butser Kiosk, the BT Tower and the events field/bbq sites at Cannonball/Coney Acres. In addition there are water troughs across the site.

At present we have 65 head of beef cattle grazing on the northern slopes of the hill. An adult animal will drink about 40 litres of water each day, a total of 2,600 daily for the herd. In addition there are 400 head of ewes and lambs which will bring the total up to about 4,000 litres, or 4 tonnes of water. Although the quality is not such an issue with livestock, if the supply fails then there are real problems.

There have been two unwelcome consequences of the recent water problems, firstly and most importantly our visitors are having to cope with a portaloo at the Butser toilets, together with a reduced service from the kiosk. And secondly, the Park’s rangers are having to take water to the livestock each day by water bowser. This takes up most of the morning.

Plans are now being put in place to connect the hill up to mains water and to do away with the bore hole altogether. This is likely to take some while to resolve and so the current measures will remain in place for the foreseeable future. The main visitor centre and all the Park’s facilities to the east of the A3 are already on the mains supply.

The festival field

The festival field

This Saturday with the fantastic sunny weather some 2,000 teenagers spent the day at the Park taking part in the annual Butsetfest. This is an alcohol and drugs free event featuring local and national up and coming bands.

There were two stages. The ‘friends stage’ with bands such as Feed The Rhino, Shadows Chasing Ghosts, Polar Floods and Violet. And the main stage with Kids In Glass Houses, Lower Than Atlantis, Yashin and England Road.

 

There was a huge queue at 11.00am when the event opened and with free activities throughout the day, most of those present stayed until 10.30 pm when the last band ended.

 

 

The 'friends stage'

The ‘friends stage’

At that point the visitor centre car park and adjacent events fields became a giant one way system designed to get all the cars back on to the A3 quickly and safely.The lead partner in Butserfest is East Hampshire District Council who are assisted by a great many volunteers. Next year the event will take place on Saturday the 14th September.

 

For more information about go to the web-site at www.butserfest.co.uk

 

 

 

The main stage

The main stage

 

 

QECP Collective

QECP Collective

Last weekend a group of volunteers spent the weekend working in QE Forest. They recently upgraded the old Orange Mountain Bike Trail, re-opened in May this year as a Forestry Commission classified Red Route, and this time were carrying out essential maintenance.

 

The group known as the ‘QECP Collective’ has its own web-site which can be found at www.qecptrailcollective.co.uk  This contains loads of information about the group and opportunities to get involved in their monthly work sessions. There is even a dvd documenting the 20 year history of mountain biking in the Park.

 

 

The next cycling event takes place, not at QECP but in Havant thicket to mark National Forestry Day on the 30th September. A two-hour ride will be led by our cycling ranger starting at the main public car park at 10.30 am.

More information from the visitor centre on 02392 595040.

 

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