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Murlough is cared for as Ireland's first nature reserve since 1967, the fragile 6000 year old sand dune system offers some lovely walks. Due to the reserves wild nature you can discover birds, flowers, butterflies and more, all overlooked by the rounded peaks of the Mourne Mountains to the south.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Weekly Work

Site checks are completed once a week, usually on Monday morning.  We visit 11 sites: the main carpark/boardwalk area, North Point, the Core area, the Ring reserve, Keel Point woodland, Castle woods, Widow's Row cottages and carpark, Dundrum coastal path, Bloody Bridge Valley, Mourne coastal path, Donard and Mournes.

The main tasks on these checks are to pick up any litter along the paths (and there can be a fair bit, come and be amazed at how un-biodegradable wet-wipes are) to keep the reserves and walkways tidy, and to empty the litter and dog bins (be even more amazed at the water-resistance design flaw in standard dog bins).  Another important task on these checks is to cut back any overgrown plants obstructing the paths, and to take a note of any jobs that need doing, such as repairs to steps, fences, etc, or to put in new drainage ditches where paths are getting muddy. 

Dundrum Coastal Path
Castle Woods


As residential volunteers it is our responsibility to maintain the log burner for the house and offices.  This wonderous device allows us to save heaps of CO2 each year and avoid using any oil at all for our heating.  To keep the beast fed we have to have a goodly supply of dry wood stored out the back in our sheds, and we spend a lot of time chopping it up into reasonable size chunks to fit the burner. 

Making kindling is a rite of passage here, you may start off tentatively, but soon you'll be bouncing up out of bed eager to get your hands on the wee axe and make piles of uniform-length sticks.  Soon you'll be haeding out to the woodshed before breakfast, midday, last thing at night...you'll be missing Neighbours to chop wood, that's how compulsive it can get!  You will be taught how to use the burner on arrival, and how to clean out all it's devious little filters and hidden pockets.  This is a very ashy experience, but very necessary.

 Log Stores
Log burner and dry wood store

Another vigorous and muscle-building activity is chopping wood (I love this!)  We can do this by hand (with axe, obviously, we're not quite black-belt yet) or with the mechanical splitter below. It's important to dry the wood so that what we burn is <20% moisture.  The wood itself comes from small trees we have felled around the reserve that were encroaching on the native scrub, so often this is Silver birch or pines.  Where we can we leave dead wood lying to provide habitats for bugs and beetles (support your local Rhinocerous beetle).  Additionally, we recycle all our paper and cardboard to help light the wood burner, so you can eat your Lidl chocolate and then burn the incriminating evidence.

Wood Chopper

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