Curry Woods Conservation Trust

A charity that cares for the environment

I wrote the following in April -"Things have been quite quiet recently as we wait for Spring and a reduction in the seemingly incessant rain!" - well, not much has changed as we head towards the end of May! There have been a few warm days but also plenty more rain. The Trust land is near the top of the Curry ridge above the levels, which is why our trees are so important in that they are already holding back water from the levels and will do so more and more as they grow larger.
Our next meeting is planned for June 21st on site at 3pm when we are hopeful of seeing some wild flowers in the plots that were seeded last autumn. We hope the plot results will help us to decide how to develop the southern end of the site, which has been designated as a wildflower meadow. All are welcome to come along! However, at our meeting in March our Chairman, Peter, reminded us that an original intention, documented in the Trust's constitution, was to plant a strip of land on the southern border with a suitable crop to provide seed for overwintering bird. It was agreed to investigate this further as we are aware that some birds, such as yellowhammers, have declined in numbers locally since the land stopped being used to grow thatching straw, with seed heads often left on the ground.

 The photo shows members of the Levels Scouts helping to plant trees in February. Peter's  article describes a busy morning of planting and also discusses the early blossom to be seen on the CWCT site./peter-s-blog/scouts-sloes-and-spring

Tree planting is particularly important right now, as we see the effects of climate change on our county. Somerset has a very low coverage of trees and the Somerset Council has recognised this fact, and how tree planting on the hills can help to alleviate flooding on the levels by appointing two people to work on getting more trees planted. Peter explains more about this in his  blog - click on the link to read it:/peter-s-blog/torrential-rain
James Chapman is leading the Somerset tree strategy, with ambitious plans for planting trees in the county, The Trust is very involved and hopes to plant more trees in Curry Rivel. We are so well positioned, being on the ridge above the Levels to north and south, to slow down the flow of rainwater from the ridge to the Levels by capturing it in our trees, which will also capture carbon and increase biodiversity.

December saw a couple of events for the Trust. Our Open Evening and AGM was held on Friday, December 8th at 7.30pm in Curry Rivel Old School Room, The Trust AGM was brief and the three reports, from Peter Goodenough, Chair, Alan Cockerell, treasurer and Sylvia Goodenough, Secretary can be seen by following this link:/agm-2023
After the more formal business of the AGM there was a chance to ask questions and discuss points raised in James's very interesting talk. Tea, coffee and cake were available and the good urn out of people soon demolished the cakes! We were also very grateful for the donations made at the time.

Just before Christmas a group of Somerset Rivers Authority staff had an "away day". I gather some big firms send staff to exotic places for these, but the SRA (very sensibly!) sent theirs to several of the sites where trees have been planted with the help of a SRA grant, with the Trust being their first port of call. We were very very pleased to meet them and tell them about our progress.

Our trees from the 20/21 and 21/22 plantings are already showing well above their guards in many cases and we have been very pleased with the survival rate. Congratulations to all our volunteers who planted -the schoolchildren and their teachers, the Scouts, the WI and many others. We also received some more trees in late December, mainly to replace the failure, and the local scout group is going to help to plant those as soon as the weather is favourable. They are safely "heeled in" for the time being.

The other development that has been in progress over the winter is the building of a storage facility on site,. Alan, with Jeremy's help, has been busy converting the area under the "roof" above the water tanks into a shed to store tree guard, netting etc.

Then, finally, having welcomed Jeremy as a trustee at the AGM, we now bid goodbye to Paul, who has been a trustee for three years and has made a massive contribution during that time. He now lives in North Curry and is tied up with volunteering there. A big thank you to him for his contribution - we are sure he will lend a hand when he can and keep an eye on progress here!

CWCT land showing footpaths on or near it

The Trust land is off Hellards Hill Lane,  Curry Rivel, which  is a turning (unmarked) off Dyers Road. After a straight, 2 bends and a further straight the trust land is reached on the third bend in the lane, just before the tarmac ceases and the lane becomes a track. On the map above the Trust land is shown enclosed by the black dotted line.

Minutes of the AGM of the CWCT held at The Woods, Curry Rivel
on Friday, December 16th 2022 a 7pm

 Welcome by Chair and Apologies for absence: Peter Goodenough (PG,Chair) welcomed those present - all 5 trustees (Catherine Mowat arrived late from working away) and 7 members of the public (Peter and Dee Wallis, David German, Elizabeth Anliffe-Clarke , Jeanette and Jeremy Dugdale, Michael Beacham)
 Approval of minutes of first AGM of the Trust held on December 7th 2021 These had been circulated in advance and were approved and signed by PG.
 Trustees introduce themselves: The trustees briefly explained their backgrounds. As Catherine Mowat had not arrived at this point a resume she had sent previously was read out by Sylvia Goodenough (SG). She currently works for Natural England and has an environmental background, Alan Cockerell (AC) has an engineering background, Paul Deacon (PD) in public service.  PG and SG both studied Botany, with PG subsequently working in scientific research and SG in research and then teaching Biology.
 Report on the year’s activities and their financial implications - Chair and Treasurer:
Tree planting - PG outlined the planting of approx. 400 further tres that took place early in the year, with thanks to the Reimagining the Levels group for providing the trees, stakes and guards. AC said that a grant of £400 had been received from the Somerset Rivers Authority for tree maintenance.
PG described the hedge laying on the southern boundary of Trust land that happened in January. He reported that these hedges are now growing strongly. AC explained the costs - £1600 for the contractor and £400 to chip the debris. This was then used to mulch the trees so there was a saving on buying mulch.
PG then outlined the funds received during the year, from the Aviva Environmental Fund and the opening of the Burton Pynsent monument on behalf of the trust. He thanked the Schroders for allowing the opening, which raised £631. The Aviva fund provided £3,935. AC also said that a Wessex Water grant for £750 had been obtained by PD and gift aid on donations had totalled £137. Full details of the finances are shown in appendix 1.
AC then described how the need for a barrier to the land had been identified as people were driving onto the land and one person had camped overnight. He had constructed a barrier and he and PD had installed it, with a cost for materials of £230. The Trust land boundaries in the mature wood were not marked so another £280 was spent on angle iron marker posts and these were also installed by PD and AC. An area of the mature woodland, a natural glade, has been enclosed by deer netting so allow regeneration. This was not an easy thing to do and AC and PD, with help from a local contractor, spent some time installing this.Costs are shown in appendix 1.
The meadow area already supports a range of plants. SG counted 50 different species there in early July. A large number of pyrimidal orchids were observed there,. Following debate on the best and most cost effective way to improve the meadow three trial plots were set up in the spring. Each plot had three strips with different treatments and the treatments were in different positions in each plot. One strip in each plot was treated with herbicide in the spring. In late October PG and SG (with some assistance from Elizabeth and her granddaughter)worked on the plots; this strip was rotivated, to simulate ploughing, a second strip was cut and then scarified and the third was just cut. Wild flower seed was then spread evenly on the plots and the results will be observed next summer , when a decision on the way forward will be made
PG said that one bench was already in place in the clearing. This was donated by Peter and Dee Wallis in memory of their son. The WI are also providing a bench to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the WI in 2022. This will be placed in the glade on the southern edge of the 2022 planting.
AC said that he had placed a padlock on the barrier to prevent it being opened without agreement.
PD described the information board by the entrance to the Trust land. He had planned it, Andy Jordan had done the artwork and AC had provided support posts for it.
The footpath though the mature woodland is the responsibility of the SCC. The local footpath warden has been in contact with the person in charge of footpath maintenance at the council and she has arranged for finger posts to mark the official path and council workmen have just recently diverted the stream away from the footpath to the side. Villagers still use the unofficial path along the east boundary of the land as they walk east through the wood at the top of the slope. This is not an official path and one landowner objects to people using it.
David German said PG had forgotten the success in the Britain in Bloom competition. PG agreed that winning the South West in Bloom Monk trophy for the best use of native plants was indeed a great success, as was the Trust being designated as “outstanding” by the judges.
 Secretary’s report- SG reported that there had been 5 Trustee meetings during the year. with agendas circulated in advance to trustees and members. Draft minutes were circulated after the meetings and, after any corrections/additions final minutes were circulated. As Secretary SG is the contact for both the Charity Commission and HMRC, dealing with information from both and gift aid on donations with HMRC. At the monument opening the Trust had invited donations from those climbing the tower and these were then eligible for gift aid at 25%. SG also runs the Trust website at
 Future plans - All the trustees made comments under this item. In summary the aims are to increase diversity on Trust land, grow the new trees to their maximum potential, manage the mature woodland based on advice on best practice, protect hares known to be living in the long grass, identify whether dormice are present and encourage them if not, particularly in an area of coppiced hazel trees by the old well, and finally continue to maintain the hedges and meadow.
 Questions and discussion - PD commented on the need to involve some younger people but it was agreed this is not easy. Curry Rivel in Bloom has the same problem. David German proposed a vote of thanks to he trustees and after further chat the formal meeting ended at 8.20pm and was followed by light refreshments.
  • The Woods, Curry Rivel, Langport, Somerset, United Kingdom
  • this is the nearest house. CWCT land is at the last bend before the house

Common name   Latin  name
Wild carrotDaucus carota
Red cloverTrifolium pratenseClover
Lentil vetchVicia tetrasperma
Pyramidal orchidAnacamptis pyramidalis
Common fleabanePulicaria dysentrica
Hedge woundwortStachys sylvatica
Rough small-reedCalaagrostis arundinaceaGrass
Oxeye daisyLeucanthemum vulgare
Bristly oxtongueHelminthotheca echiodes
Perennial ryegrass lamium perenneGrass
White cloverTrifolium repensClover
TimothyPhleum pratenseGrass
Common velvet grassHolcus lanatusGrass
Orchard grassDactylis glomerataGrass
Smooth hawksbeardCrepis capillaris
RagwortJacobaea vulgaris
Redvein dockRumex sanguineus
Grass peaLathyrus nissola
Common agrimonyAgrimonia eupatoria
Common mugwortArtemisia vulgaris
Meadow peaLathyrus pratensis
Meadow buttercupRanunculus acris
Common vetchVicia sativa
Cow parsleyHeracleum sphandylum
Common birdsfoot trefoilLotus corniculatus
Spear thistleCirsium vulgare
Common St John's wortHypericum perforatum
Creeping thistleCirsium arvense
Hairy St John's wortHypericum hirsutum
Smooth hawksbeardCrepis capillaris
Field bindweedConvolvulus arvensis
Black medickMedicago lupulina
Autumn hawkbitScorzoneroides autumnalis
Smooth cat's earHypochaeris glabra
Cutleaf geraniumGeranium dissectum
Scarlet pmpernelLysim achia arvensis

.The CWCT is a small local charity which was formed when 9 acres of farmland and mature woodland came up for sale on a ridge above the Levels. During 2020, in spite of the pandemic, we raised £60K , mainly from the local community, to buy the la have already planted 500 trees and shrubs on the farmland and the local community has enjoyed the wildflower meadow that has developed alongside them. In the 21-22 winter we obtained another grant for a further 400 trees and shrubs, with guards and stakes. We now have around 1000 trees on site.

The weather was kind to us and our trees in 2021 and 2022 as the early rain allowed them to establish their roots and we didn't need to water. The water capturing apparatus was constructed for minimal outlay and at one point we had 6m3 of water in large tanks. However, after some of tis was used for watering, it was decided to reorganise the tanks and the roof above them to make a "shed" to use as a storage facility for guards, stakes and other paraphernalia. This was again masterminded by Alan and completed at a small cost, for materials only, covered by a grant from Curry Rivel Parish Council.

 Other points of interest on site include the glade at the northern edge, at the bottom of the wooded slope, which has been created to prevent deer from preventing sapling growth. Growth on either side of the deer netting fences will be compared as time goes by.  The wild flower plots on the southern side of the site have been set up to show the effects of rotavating, lightly disturbing and leaving alone on the development of wildflowers from prepared mixes. Results in the 2022/3 season were disappointing and inconclusive so we now await results in the spring and summer of 2024.  

 Minutes of the Open Evening and AGM of the CWCT held in the Old School Room, Curry Rivel on Friday, December 8th 2023 at 7.30pm 

Welcome by the Chair and Apologies for absence - Kate Towers of Reimagining the Levels apologised for herself and Phil Stone

 Approval of minutes of the AGM of the Trust held on December 16th 2022 -proposed by Alan Cockerell, seconded by Paul Deacon 

Chair’s Report - Peter Goodenough- see appendix 1

Treasurer’s report -Alan Cockerell - see appendix 2

Secretary’s report - Sylvia Goodenough - see appendix 3 

This concluded the formal AGM. After a brief break James Chapman gave a very interesting talk about his role as Somerset Tree Strategist and how his background fitted him for the role. There was much discussion following the talk and this continued over tea, coffee and cake. The evening finally broke up at 9.30pm. 

Appendix 1 Chairmans report 

The year started with some more tree planting by the Local Scout Group. Most of the planting was either to thicken up the hedgerow to the South or to plant shrubs, mainly service trees along the Souther edge of the new woodland. Tree maintenance in the new woodland mainly consisted of removing tree guards and stakes from places where the plants had died. During the summer 66 trees and 50 shrubs were removed as it was thought that the plants had died. However,previously it has been noticed that some plants shoot from the rootstock in the following year so we remain hopeful for some of them At worst this represents around 10% loss on the total planting. Considering that all planting was done by inexperienced volunteers, including quite a lot of young people this is a very good survival rate, especially as 2022 was a particularly arid summer.In the ancient semi-natural woodland (NE designation) a large area on the slope was fenced using deer fencing to allow regrowth of native trees. Before the end of the year some coppicing of trees which have fallen or been blown parallel to the ground in the glade will be done. Much of this area is mature ash and, as yet, there seems little ash die back disease.  Also in the ancient woodland there was some extensive footpath maintenance, some was done with the help of the scouts to lay wood chippings in a particularly damp area. This area is the site of a natural winter spring and so a large diameter pipe was installed to take the water away from the footpath. This initially worked and the original boggy area is much improved but the water is finding its way back to the footpath lower down the slope. More maintenance will be needed. A wildlife camera has been installed and has proved beyond doubt that roe deer are present. In the spring a very active family of healthy looking foxes used the footpath and could be heard. Several hares were seen in the spring but not latterly. The retained meadow area was cut once this year and the grass footpath was cut as needed to maintain good access. The clearing within the new planting was also cut and a picnic bench installed there. This has been used - as evidenced by the beer cans, and disposable coffee cups left behind. The lack of a waste bin is a hint to revellers to take home their empties. Probably most do but there are always miscreants. We are still experimenting with the best way to increase the native perennial biodiversity. Our trial plots are clearly marked and I would encourage people to look at them in the spring to see how they develop. We are trying three treatments, complete cultivation and sowing in bare soil, sowing in lightly scarified soil and sowing in undisturbed soil. Two plant surveys have been done and these will be posted as a consolidated list on the web-site. One very invasive arable crop weed, hairy ox tongue, has done very well. It has leaves that are very prickly and so probably is not eaten much by herbivores. There were very large numbers of pyramidal orchids in June and outside in the adjoining lane verge a good stand of early purple orchids. In the same location there are primroses and wild scabious, so it is expected these will form a reservoir of seed that will move into the field area. There is a good stand of cowslips near by and so plugs of these will probably be added to the field. Talks were given to the local gardening group when they had an evening visit to the site, and the WI. The WI have planted a stand of trees commemorating 100 years of the CR WI. We sadly had to return the perpetual Monk Trophy which we were awarded by South West in Bloom in 2022 for the best use of native plants; as Curry Rivel didn’t compete in the competition this year. I would like to thank the other trustees for all their work this year, both on site and off, and look forward to another positive year in 2024.

Appendix 2 - Treasurer’s report    

ACCOUNTS FOR ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING Transactions since last AGM                                                                                           Current Period                                                                                                                                         General Funds                                                                                                                                                      £RECEIPTS                                                        Donations                                                                                                                    375                                                                  Grants                   Curry Rivel Parish Council                 223                                                                HMRC Gift Aid                                                                    55                                                                                                   Total receipts since last AGM      653                                                                                      PAYMENTS

Insurance                                                                                                                      136     

  Website fees for next 5 years. Hire of Old School Room                                            742

Picnic bench for field clearing                                                                                       249                Maintenance costs for site (wildflower seeds, wildlife camera etc).                             487                                                                                                                                                            ______                                                                                         Total payments since last AGM         £1614                                                                                     Cash in bank brought forward                  4,126                                                                                              Cash in bank carried forward         £3165                                                      

                                                                                                                               Appendix 3 -Secretary’s report 2023 

There have been 4 meetings of the trustees in 2023, one of which was held on site and the others at the house called The Woods.  At the November meeting the 4 remaining original trustees, Alan Cockerell, Catherine Mowat, Peter and Sylvia Goodenough, who had come to the end of their three year term, agreed to stand for re-election and were duly elected for a further 3 years. We were delighted that Jeremy Dugdale, who had already been very helpful during the year, had put his name forward for election and he too was elected, bringing the number of trustees up to the maximum of 6.Alan and I put together the annual report to the Charity Commission in April, ready for submission. However the Commission, in its wisdom, had decided to change the method of submission and had not developed the necessary on line form by May, and had made the method of log in far more complicated than before. I spent several hours on the phone to the Commission, along with everyone else who found the process unfathomable, eventually submitting in October. Thankfully the HMRC website for claiming gift aid is much easier to access and use even if it then takes a long time before the money gets to the Trust bank account. I also maintain the Trust website and am pleased to report that it gets a good number of hits, with Peter’s blogs being particularly popular. These appear on the website first and then in the Curry Rivel News but they obviously appeal to a wider audience than just those who receive the CRN. If you haven’t looked at the website please do - the address is at the top of the agenda for this meeting. Thank you