Record of my work experience with Exmoor National Park

Work experience 05-12-2013

Today we had three tickets to address

1. Inspect a tree with a contractor with a view to safe felling to avoid damage to a bridge and a footpath
2. Fit an auto-latch to a gate and a post to prevent the gate opening too far
3. Clear fallen tree material from a footpath, check the drain and clear woodland debris from a gateway

On the way to the first job we passed the bridge I was working on the week before, here are some pictures of the finished bridge including the steps at each end nicely finished.

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The first job involved loading chainsaws a strop and heavy rope into the land rover, the other jobs just required a short post and some metal work (the auto-latch)

We set out and managed to get the Land Rover down the path a fair way to investigate the tree, it was an Alder (Alnus glutinosa) growing right on the river bank.

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The roots were obviously under the footpath and if the tree were to collapse due to the erosion of the bank of the river, it would unearth a large section of the path and make it impassable, this could also cause damage to the footbridge across the river and due to the height of the tree it could cause damage to property in the gardens beyond.

The inspection took into account various methods that could be used to remove the tree, climbing with ropes was decided on as the best method, with pulleys, ropes and winches to carefully lower the upper branches to the ground before a carefully controlled felling operation could be carried out on the main trunk to ensure it swung in a safe direction away from the bridge and the property beyond the river.

This would be priced up for the contractor and he would return another day with assistance to carry out the work.

There would also be a need to re-build the river bank by moving stones from the other side to straighten the river and ensure the footpath remains in tact

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The next job was to fit an auto-close-latch to an existing gate and fit a post to prevent the gate from opening too far.

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This involved drilling a hole for the latch pin on the gate

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Fitting the latch pin to the gate, hammering it home and bolting it up

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Then the latch mechanism was fitted to the closing post with coach bolts, these are pre-drilled and then wound in with a spanner.

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The final job of the day involved walking the length of a footpath which had several fallen trees blocking the path. This involved my colleague using the chainsaw to cut the branches into easily manageable sizes before we shifted them off the path and into the surrounding hedge to create habitats for insects and small birds. The chainsaw made this job exceptionally easier and much quicker.

There was a ditch/drain running alongside the path which had filled with fallen leaves at various points and we used a devon shovel to clear these out and allow the water to flow down the drain. It was suggested that we might put in another ticket to return and fit plastic drainage pipes for this ditch and cover them over – this would ensure that the flow would not be interrupted by falling leaves each year and prevent the need to regularly visit the path to clear the drains as we were doing today.

The last task on this job was to clear some tree debris from a gateway, again this was dragged out of the gateway, chopped up with the chainsaw and then moved into suitable points in the hedgerow to mulch down and create habitat.

With all that cleared it was time to pack everything away and head back to the yard.

Once back at the yard, we put the chainsaws away and tidied away the other tools.

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