October 2012

QE Forest

QE Forest

The trees of the QE Forest are changing colour on a daily basis. The majority of these are beech trees whose leaves are turning from green to yellow and then golden. Other species like the ash and white beam have all but lost theirs.

Autumn colour is a phenomenon that transforms the green leaves of many deciduous trees and shrubs for a short period before they shut down for the Winter.

A leaf is green due to the presence of chlorophyll which has a vital function in capturing the suns rays and utilising their energy to manufacture food. As this process takes place the chlorophyll breaks down and is replaced masking other pigments in the leaf and maintaining the green colour.

As the season draws to a close the chlorophyll runs out leaving the orange and yellow pigments to show themselves.

Beech leaves

Beech leaves

A further red pigment is created during the late Summer, enhanced by phosphate levels in the leaves, the breakdown of the sugars manufactured by chlorophyll, bright sunlight and cold (but not freezing) temperatures. The combination of these three colours is what makes Autumn so special.

With a pretty good forecast for the half-term holiday week the timing is just right for what the Americans call ‘leaf peeping’.

The visitor centre and main facilities are open every day of the week from 10.00am through to 5.30pm. However from the 1st November closing time will move back to 4.30pm.

The gates on the Forest Drive and at the main entrance to the Butser Hill car park have been being locked at 8.00pm. When the clocks go back on the 28th this will move back to 6.00pm. Opening time in the morning will remain the same at 8.00am.


Last weekend the Butser Modular Railway Group put on their annual display in the Park Centre. The BMRG is an N gauge model railway club which was started by a small group of enthusiasts in November 2009.


Members construct their own modules to a defined set of specifications. These are then all joined together on club nights, or for the annual display, to form one large circuit.


Construction and alteration of the modules is an ongoing process with members sharing modelling and electrical skills.


Visitors are welcome to join the group on club nights which take place in the Park’s Annexe on the first Monday of each month from 7.00pm to 10.00pm.


N gauge modelling is very popular for people who have limited space in the spare room, loft or garden shed. The build ratio is 1:148 and the gauge is 9mm (across the tracks). For more information go to the N Gauge Society’s web-site on www.ngaugesociety.com



The SE Hants Ramblers met at QECP on Saturday at the start of a short circular walk through the forest and surrounding countryside. The group has set up the ‘Short Saturday’ walks on alternate weeks to encourage more people to take up walking. Open to those who are not members, typically the distance will be 3 to 5 miles and will taken at a gentle pace.


Where possible they will end at a teashop for that essential cup of tea and piece of cake. Start time is 10.30 am and the walk should take 1.5 to 2 hours, finishing no later than 1.00pm.  A coffee break will be taken at a convenient half way point.

All that is required by way of equipment are comfortable walking boots and waterproof clothing.

The SE Hants group also arranges walking weekends further afield, for example to Dartmoor or Wales. As well as organising walks the Ramblers are very active in protecting and enhancing the local rights of way network. Members regularly survey the local footpaths and report problems such as broken stiles or missing signposts.

Further information is available on the web-site at www.sehantsramblers.hampshire.org.uk

The Country Park’s volunteers run regular Wednesday Walks from the visitor centre. Meeting at 10.30am the walk will last for 2 hours. Pre-booking is not required. There is a charge of £3.00 per head.

For more information about QECP events go to www.hants.gov.uk/qecp



Stump grinder

Stump grinder

Two training courses are taking place this week which involve some of the QECP rangers. Firstly, the use of stump grinders. These are really important tools that are used where trees have been felled in busy public areas. The machine effectively chips the cut stump down to below ground level. This ensures that no trip hazards are left, and that mowers or other machinery can pass over the spot without risk of breakage.


The second course was the use of Mobile Elevated Work Platforms. These are used to  inspect and work on large trees where climbing might be risky. The model used for the training had a reach of 25 metres and was self-propelled.


The Park has 5 full-time rangers and one part timer.They are all trained in a wide variety of subjects which could be grouped as follows; visitor related (customer care through to dealing with accidents and incidents), driving related (4WD and defensive driving) and machinery related (chainsaw to stump grinder).

Due to the large number of visitors who come to QECP, over 330,000 each year, and the presence of students and volunteers who help out, the level of training and the frequency of re-training is key. Without the relevant training and certification no vehicle or machine may be used.

There are two bodies which oversee all the outdoor based training in the UK. The City & Guilds-Land Based Training who design relevant vocational qualifications to be delivered by training providers, colleges and employers. More information at www.nptc.org.uk

And Lantra the UK Sector Skills Council for Land Based & Environmental Industries. details at www.lantra.co.uk

Virtually all our practical training will carry the NPTC or LANTRA certification.

In this case a local trainer was delivering the two courses. Chris Bain who is based at the nearby Staunton Country Park and offers a wide range of course titles including chainsaw sculpture. His web-site is at www.forestrycrafts.co.uk





Yesterday a team from Specialised UK came to QECP for a ‘Test the Best’ day. This was a chance for riders to book in and try some of the 2013 models on the red mountain bike route.  About 50 people signed up from as far afield and Bournemouth and London.

The 2013 range of models are called 29ERs after the novel wheel size, 29 inches instead of the standard 26. The larger wheel is better at coping with bumps and obstacles. In addition they have more spokes and the wheel rims are wider. Other innovative features from the range include carbon fibre frames and a very low centre of gravity.

Within the 29ER range there are three models, the Epic, Camber and Stumpjumper. All are aimed at off-road single track cycling.


Specialized staff were on hand to fit the right bike to the rider, and with entry-level models starting at £1,500 this personal service is key to the company’s success after 34 years of making and selling bikes.

The team will be in Staffordshire next weekend and Cumbria the weekend after.

For more information about Specialised go to their web-site at www.specialised.com

Details about the red trail are available on the volunteer groups web-site www.qecpcollective.co.uk The group meets on a monthly basis for practical work sessions.


Doug Jones and Carolyne Haynes accepting the award from Dame Mary Fagan

Doug Jones and Carolyne Haynes accepting the award from Dame Mary Fagan

The Buriton Chalk Pits Local Nature Reserve is situated on the eastern side of the Country Park and adjacent to the village of Buriton. The site is managed in a partnership that involves the District Council who is the land owner, QECP which provides the part-time ranger, and Buriton Parish.


The project is supported by a 3 year Heritage Lottery Fund grant and managed through a working group helped by a small band of volunteers.


The volunteers meet on a regular basis and their next work party is on Saturday the 13th October meeting in the Halls Hill car park at 9.30am. Future dates can be found on the QECP web-site in the events section at www.hants.gov.uk/qecp


The group is currently celebrating after winning an award at the recent CRPE Hampshire Countryside Awards. These have been held annually since 2007 and ‘recognise significant achievements across the County which support our goal of a beautiful, diverse and living countryside that everyone can value and enjoy’.

There were three categories, Rural Enterprise, Voluntary and Community, and Young Peoples. And against stiff competition the Chalk Pits won the Voluntary and Community category. Great news for everyone involved.

For more infomation about the Chalk Pits go to the Buriton Community web-site at  http://www.buriton.info/buriton_chalk_pits

The CPRE, or Campaign to Protect Rural England, is a charity dedicated to the needs of the rural community. Their web-site has a more detailed press release and a you-tube clip introducing the awards at www.cprehampshire.org.uk

Crossway Carvers

Crossway Carvers

Last weekend saw another visit from the Crossway Carvers, a Porchester based group that promotes and practices wood carving in all its forms.

They attend craft shows and fairs across the county and are regulars here at the Park.  Their next visit will be on the 10th/11th November from 10.30 am to 4.00pm in the visitor centre.

The Park is currently selling planks and blocks of Cherry and Wild Pear from trees which had to be felled from alongside the A3.

The Cherry is relatively common and much sought after by furniture makers.  The wood is easy to work with a pink tinge which darkens with age.



Cherry and Pear

Cherry and Pear

The Wild Pear is a much more unusual species with only a few examples recorded growing in East Hampshire. This is the preferred wood for making wind instruments and furniture. And more surprisingly, but do not try this at home, the dried leaves were widely smoked prior to the introduction of tobacco from the Americas.Due to their scarcity value when the two Pear trees were felled they were cut at about 1.5 metres above ground level and their root balls dug up and replanted in Bottom Field. Additionally, about 20 new trees were created by taking grafts.

For more information about wood sales at QECP please contact the shop on 02392 595040.


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