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November 2020 Newsletter

Local Rewilding Project, photograph courtesy of Alex Anderson

Letter from the new Chairman

At the committee meeting held in September we were very sad that two stalwarts of the committee Nigel Quick and Jeremy Bonnett announced their retirement from their positions of Chairman and Membership Secretary respectively and from the committee. I would like to sincerely thank them both for their time and commitment. We will miss their broad experience and local knowledge and Nigel's very effective leadership.

My name is Bob Daniels, I was very pleased to be invited to take over the position of Chairman and I look forward to building on the success of my predecessor. I have been on the committee for 3 years and have taken an active role in the organisation of the Punch Bowl Challenges, the Photo Competition, the production of the Calendar and as the Committee's representative on the National Trust's Local Rewilding project team.

I am delighted that Malcolm Ogilvy has agreed to become the Membership Secretary. At his request we have split off some of the duties previously performed by Jeremy. In particular, production of the Newsletter and other communications will be carried out by Sue Stathers and Kit Powell - a new member of the committee who I am very pleased to formally welcome.

It is a very strange time for all of us and the impact of COVID-19 has been particularly severe for charities including ours. We were particularly sorry to lose the ‘Educate & Inspire’ talk which is traditionally held at the same time as the AGM. I am sure that we will be able to welcome our invited speaker Professor Guy Woodward from Imperial College to another event in the near future. The Supporters' Quiz night is another major event which I know is a big favourite and has had to be cancelled. We will certainly bring it back next year.

I am pleased to say that we have been able to 'save' the Punch Bowl Challenges. Normally this is a series of races around the Devil's Punch Bowl and attracts a lot of interest from the running fraternity. This year we decided the only way forward was to go virtual. A full report later in the Newsletter.

We are very grateful to our Treasurer, Philip Currie, who is a keen walker. He has drawn up detailed guides and associated maps for the 4 major walks at Hindhead these can be found on our website: www.haslemere-nt.com under the "Walks" section, and on the National Trust website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hindhead-commons-and-the-devils-punch-bowl/trails/hidden-hindhead-walk

You will almost certainly have read in the press that the National Trust had a £200 million hole in its finances as a result of the C19 pandemic. This triggered a major "reset programme" which has included a series of redundancies and other changes which are still in progress. A very early action, taken at the national level, was the suspension of all active projects pending a full review. We were therefore extremely fortunate that the Beaver Enclosure element of the larger Local Rewilding project was one of only a handful that was allowed to progress as it is funded in full by contributions from the Community Investment programme of Viridor (a waste recycling company) and the BD&HH Supporters appeal fund - see below for further information.

Black Down Lead Ranger’s report – Dave Elliott
Dave expressed his real thanks to Nigel for his excellent leadership and suggested he would be a difficult act to follow. With most staff furloughed less general maintenance is possible.  Work continues with clearing fallen trees and compiling a survey of the Ash die-back disease, which is proving to be of major concern. The management of the livestock continues with the movement of the long horns from Swan Barn to Valewood. The animals are regularly inspected by both the RSPCA (as part of the Freedom Foods Scheme) and internally by a National Trust assessor.  Their management was highly commended in the most recent report. The bracken scything and spraying has gone ahead with the help of the Rangers. The installation of the sculptures for the Serpent Trail has taken place – maybe you have sat on one overlooking the view enjoyed so much by Tennyson.

Hindhead Lead Ranger’s Report – Matt Cusack
Matt reiterated Dave’s thanks to Nigel for all his support and leadership.   Again with most staff furloughed routine work has been severely affected, volunteers are now back and able to help with essential tasks, but not the work of furloughed staff members.   The cafe re-opened in July and has had a profitable two months.  The disabled toilet is now installed, and families with older disabled children/adults will be able to use the hoist facility.  It is hoped to start an easy access path to the viewpoint in October.  Sadly, through age, two 16 year-old Highland cows and a 22 year-old pony have died during the summer.  When funding allows consideration will be given to purchasing more ponies.

Local Rewilding Project - Beaver Enclosure Update
We are grateful that, given current circumstances and the challenges facing the NT nationally, the Beaver Enclosure element of the larger Local Rewilding project was allowed to progress. The project was delayed directly by C19 restrictions but in particular because a number of key individuals were furloughed. Despite these constraints I am delighted to report that the beaver enclosure is now nearing completion. Dave Elliott the Lead Ranger in charge of the project has worked tirelessly to keep the project on track in extremely difficult circumstances. He hopes to be ready to introduce beavers sometime in the next few weeks but can’t give an exact timing on the introduction date as it depends when suitable animals become available at the donor sites.

Alex Anderson is a local professional photographer who has kindly offered to record progress free of charge and some of the excellent results of his work can be found here. More details of the project are available here.

Punch Bowl Challenges Virtual Runs and Walks 2020
The very popular run could not be held this year, but during September 33 people took part in virtual runs and walks raising a total of £553 – an excellent total.   The overall winners of the 10.28km race were:

  1. Mike Cathcart
  2. Steve Williams
  3. Paul Croad. 

The winners of the women's section were:

  1. Lorraine Boberg (4th overall)
  2. Chelsea Knight
  3. Cat Wallman.

The overall winners of the Hidden Hindhead Trail 5km race were:

  1. Deborah Bryant
  2. Susie Crayton
  3. Sarah Barnett. 

The Junior winner was Jake Woods.

Bob Monteath was the winner of the Sailor's Stroll race.  Enid Cade, age 3, beat her father Ian by a fraction of a second to take 2nd place

A number of people also took part in the walks and clearly enjoyed the experience.  One family, which included 3 boys and a dog said "We did this 6 mile walk yesterday. Glorious weather and the kids didn't even moan!"

The event was kindly sponsored by The Royal School.  The Committee would like to thank Bob Monteath of Haslemere Borders Athletic Club for his considerable efforts in organising the event and the Club for its support.

Photo Competition 2020
Over eighty entries have already been received so far.  They will be seen by the judges in due course.   Last year's winning entry, Family Walk on Black Down by Elizabeth Scorer (shown below), was used on the flyer for the 2020 photo competition.

Once again this competition has been generously sponsored by Raymond Reid Photo, Haslemere. Full details on website www.haslemere-nt.com  

Future events – Sadly all events have had to be cancelled but we are planning in hope for 2021!
Thank you for your continued support


Photographs throughout the website by: David Elliott, Matt Cusack, Matt Bramwich, Alex Anderson, Alan Waggott and courtesy of the NT