The Greensand Trust Quarterly Report: July to September 2023


 The education team supported by our wonderful education volunteers (contributing 34 hours of their time in school visit support alone) has seen a busy few months with delivery of different education sessions and activities across the Trust’s area.

Our young site visitors studied habitats, investigated plants and growth, pond dipped, bug hunted, explored different sites using maps and built shelters.

Graduates of the last WISE Wood programme were so keen to visit again, they joined us at Maulden Wood for an extra end of term session. It was lovely to see them all again.

Amongst other sessions, we had Warden Hill Infants School pupils join us for a woodland walk and minibeast hunt, Mary Bassett Lower School EYFS pupils visited Rushmere with us for sensory games and bug hunting and another ‘Minibeast Gardens’ in school programme was delivered to High Ash school pupils in Great Brickhill.

Our summer BUG Lab programme returned for the summer holidays with thanks to the Bedfordshire Natural History Society volunteers, Central Bedfordshire Active Outdoors funding and support from Farrans. 

We delivered six sessions at five sites which attracted over 90 children with their families. Participants were invited to look closely and identify as many different creatures as possible to help us understand and manage the areas better. Using sweep nets, magnifying pots and ID guides, the keen spotters noted a huge range of species from dragonflies to weevils.

Nine new Greensand Trust Youth Ranger ‘recruits’ have joined us until February for our programme in the east of the area based at Maulden Wood and the WWC. We have a busy programme of 12 further sessions to help them develop new skills and learn about the area.

  We have also embarked on a second WISE Wood programme, this time with a group of pupils from Woodlands Middle School. The pupils selected are generally unfamiliar with woodland environments and we aim to build their confidence and understanding whilst also offering an experience of the uses of wood and benefits of woodland in supporting mental health.



Partnerships & Development Projects 

Upper and Bedford Ouse Catchment Partnership:

 The Trust and BedsRCC organised the ‘Water, Water, Everywhere?’ Conference at the Rufus Centre in Flitwick in July, as part of the Catchment Partnership’s work on highlighting the issues around too much water (flooding) and too little (low/no flows), and how ‘nature-based solutions’ can help address these.  The keynote speaker was Archie Ruggles-Brise from Spains Hall in Essex – where the water level management is helped in no small part by beavers.  The Conference was very well attended by over 70 people and has helped shape future work for the Partnership.

The Trust, which leads the Catchment Partnership’s Volunteering Working Group, organised a

 “Water Quality Workshop” for volunteers, held at Jordans Mill, near Biggleswade.  The workshop was supported by the Environment Agency and Anglian Water and was fully booked with 30 volunteers from across the catchment (including two from the Trust).  Demonstrations of ‘kick sampling” for aquatic invertebrates and the opportunity to try out different water quality testing equipment were the highlights of the day.


Sites we maintain


Throughout July, our focus remained on the overall maintenance and enhancement of the park, with a particular emphasis on improving visitor amenities. We dedicated time to strimming the area around the historical crosses, an essential part of maintaining the park's heritage.

General Park maintenance was an ongoing priority, ensuring that the park remained a welcoming and well-maintained space for all visitors. We continued our commitment to caring for newly planted trees, implementing conservation measures to ensure their long-term health and growth. This involved regular care, including watering. The care and conservation of memorial trees remained a steadfast part of our mission, as we continued to maintain and nurture these significant elements of the park's history.

We tackled bracken clearance and tree works to ensure a safer and more accessible environment for park-goers. This included path reinstatement, grass cutting, and weed control.

Cemetery maintenance involved strimming, mowing, and spraying, ensuring that this important area remained tidy and respectful.

Our responsibilities extended to the maintenance of the CBC right of way, where we ensured that paths were clear and accessible for all park users.

Preparations for new tree planting in Westminster field were also underway, utilising organic matter sourced from the park for sustainability.

The care of older memorial trees was another focal point of our work, as we continued to provide the necessary attention to these cherished features.

We also concentrated on maintaining 'first contact' areas in the West Car Park, ensuring that visitors were welcomed to the park with a positive and inviting impression.

Our efforts extended to the maintenance of the Wet Flushes area, where park-goers could enjoy a beautiful and natural setting.

As we moved into August, the park remained abuzz with activity. Thankfully, we were fortunate to enjoy favourable weather conditions.

Our efforts at the Alameda have yielded positive results. We've carried out tasks such as grass cutting, strimming, pruning and selectively lifting crowns where needed. Passers-by have provided encouraging feedback, appreciating the visible improvements in the area.

We've also continued our dedicated maintenance work at the cemetery, which involves grass cutting, strimming, pruning, crown lifting, mulching, and overall upkeep.

In September, with the conclusion of bird nesting season, we resumed hedge cutting tasks at the Kings Arms Gardens, which included the removal of box hedging.

Our commitment to tree conservation persists, encompassing regular health and vitality checks, the replacement of tree guards and support posts where necessary, mulching, watering, and general care.

Grass cutting throughout the park remains a routine task, ensuring its aesthetic appeal is maintained.

We've also focused on the finer details, such as strimming around the gates in the wet flushes to enable easy access now that the cows have returned.

Furthermore, we addressed a fallen branch obstructing a pathway in the park, allowing us to put our newly acquired chainsaw skills to good use.

In addition to our operational tasks, we've diligently fulfilled our contractual obligations and other essential works. This involves regular meetings with Ampthill Town Council to discuss contract tasks and park plans, ensuring general maintenance of park features, waste control, and litter picking. We've kept a watchful eye on surfacing, paths, roads, and conducted inspections and maintenance of fencing, gates, and other park features. Safety checks, vehicle and compound maintenance, and tree and woodland inspections are part of our ongoing responsibilities. We've also been actively involved in pest control arrangements and liaised with various contractors working on-site. Our efforts to engage with the community and visitors, as well as our commitment to team development and support, have remained constant. In addition, we've been instrumental in supporting park events, including the dog show and orienteering activities.


Rushmere Country Park

During this quarter, there have been notable developments in our park management and conservation efforts.

Change in Dog Bin Emptying Responsibility: The emptying of dog bins is now being efficiently handled by GST rangers. However, it's worth mentioning that one of our rangers has moved on to new opportunities, and we are actively seeking a replacement to ensure the continuity of this crucial task.

Volunteer Activities: Our dedicated volunteers have been actively involved in various conservation tasks. This quarter, they have carried out essential tasks such as grass raking at Stockgrove, aimed at promoting the growth of Orchids and Heather in the marshy meadow. Additionally, volunteers have played a crucial role in Heathland restoration on Lords Hill and Oak Wood. They've also erected a protective fence around the Heathland area near the Visitor Centre to prevent damage to the Heather and cleared Rhododendron in preparation for the proposed new play area. Furthermore, they've trimmed back Rhododendron along the access-for-all path from the Visitor Centre to the Giant's Chair.

New Horse Trail: We've successfully constructed a new horse trail to facilitate a diversion during timber removal operations, ensuring the safety and enjoyment of park users.

Sheep Relocation: The sheep have been moved to the Northern compartment on Rammamere Heath. Regrettably, we lost one ewe on the last day in the Southern compartment, and another was removed due to ill health, possibly stemming from overconsumption of acorns.

Adder Sightings: This summer has seen an unprecedented number of adder sightings in the southern compartment, which is a noteworthy occurrence not previously documented in the park.

Tree Health Concerns: A significant number of pine and conifer trees within the park are now showing signs of decline and dying. As a result, plans are being put in place to fell these trees over the coming months. The necessary paperwork is currently being sought to undertake this essential conservation work.

Barrier Performance: We are pleased to report that our barriers have operated with relative faultlessness over the past quarter, contributing to the safety and security of park visitors.



As of 7th August significant progress has been made in the works at Clophill Lakes, with the contractor making remarkable headway, capitalising on the dry weather conditions. Here are the key developments:

 Footpath Sub Bases: The initial phase of the project involved excavating and installing sub bases for the footpaths throughout the area. At present, all sub bases have been successfully laid, with the exception of a short section connecting the two bridges: the Right of Way (RoW) bridge and our refurbished bridge.

Bridge Refurbishment: Work on refurbishing the bridge is now in progress. It has undergone a thorough renovation, including stripping, re-bracing, and pointing of the brickwork. The next stage will involve the installation of the bridge's surface, a step slated for completion within the next month.

Service Trench and Road: A service trench has been excavated and services have been laid to serve the Café and Ranger's office. The trench has been backfilled along the entrance road, where passing points have been thoughtfully installed to facilitate smooth traffic flow.

Quarry Bridge Maintenance: The existing quarry bridge has undergone a comprehensive clearance and rust prevention treatment, including a small amount of welding. This maintenance work will extend the bridge's lifespan for decades to come.

Culvert Bridge Installation: A culvert bridge has been successfully installed and now stands as an integral part of the project, not only serving its functional purpose but also contributing to the overall aesthetics.

Pedestrian Bridge: The main pedestrian bridge has been ordered and is scheduled for installation in November 2023.

Viewpoints and Hide Bases: All groundworks associated with the creation of new viewpoints and hide bases have been completed, with corresponding landscaping efforts adding to the area's natural appeal.

Café/Ranger's Office Area: The new café and ranger's office area has seen substantial progress. The ground has been levelled, a sub base laid, and plans for the car park's construction are set to commence in early October.

The project at Clophill Lakes is moving forward with notable success. We eagerly anticipate the next phases of the project as we work to create a more enjoyable and sustainable environment for all visitors.


Aspley Woods

The partnership between Bedford Estates and the Trust has seen the formulation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), clearly defining our respective objectives, responsibilities and delivery strategies based on available funding. It's important to note that Milton Keynes Council’s funding for access ceased on 1st August 2023 and CBC funding for access ceased on 30th April 2023.

Ranger Activity: Over the course of the quarter, the ranger team spent a total of 153.4 hours on-site. Their responsibilities included performing whole site checks, conducting pass checks, engaging with users, co-ordinating and supervising volunteers, managing permissive bike routes, and addressing general site maintenance and reactive works. Additionally, administrative tasks and volunteer works related to the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and general management and engagement activities were carried out.

Notably our Bike Activity Supervisor resigned in July but despite this, the ranger team maintained a consistent weekly presence on-site. Plans for addressing the vacancy and optimising workforce allocation are under consideration.

Path and Rights of Way Maintenance: Permissive paths have been diligently maintained and are in good condition. A variety of rights-of-way issues have been logged and reported, including missing and damaged gates and signage concerns. Some challenges persist and updates are pending from the relevant authorities.

Two broken gates intended for Aspley Rights of Way are currently stored at Rushmere. A delay in reactive works has been experienced due to the ongoing situation with CBC highways and their exclusive contractor.

Vandalism and Anti-Social Behaviour: Instances of vandalism and anti-social behaviour have been limited during this period. A toilet cistern was dumped and subsequently removed at the Jump Area.

Car Parks: Various car parks across the site have been assessed:

Woburn Road Lay-by: Regularly full and in satisfactory condition.

Longslade Lane car park: Repairs have been conducted but the surface remains uneven.

Sandy Lane car park: Frequently busy; one gate missing on a Right of Way path. Main gates require replacement due to their deteriorated condition.

Bow Brickhill Road car park: The gate to this car park has been kept closed for some years, but the possibility of reopening is under investigation.

Steeley's Entrance: Gate replacement is recommended due to its poor condition.

Bike and Horse Activities: A series of activities have been organised for cross-country cycling and bike park monitoring, primarily focused on weekends. These events included trail maintenance, post and sign replacements, and other trail improvements.

Future Maintenance Requirements: Anticipated maintenance needs for the future include attention to entrance and access gates, installation of new cross-country bike signage, resurfacing cross-country routes, and potential work on downhill routes to align them with the bike park's evolving needs.

Wavendon Ponds SSSI and Mermaids Pond

Regular maintenance and tasks are scheduled for Wavendon Ponds SSSI and Mermaids Pond, including pond clearance and birch thinning on specific dates throughout the upcoming months.

Linslade Wood

  Two official action days have taken place in this quarter. August’s session was a chance to work in the old wood trying to remove some of the regrowth of Brambles in the area. The second involved coppicing Hazel in the plantation area where regrowth hadn’t been particularly successful partially due to the proximity of the Larch plantation but also due to the Hazel being planted too close together. A number have died as a result of this so the area is being completely re-cut in the hope that with the assistance of volunteers, we can get it on a rotational cycle.

While the official action day programme was paused during the summer months, volunteer work has continued abound on site. Tasks have included bench installation - one has been added to the newly laid hedge and another along the main ride. Grass cutting around the rides, benches, bins and entrances using strimmers and the GST ride-on mower has been carried out at least twice over the summer. The steps at the Stoke Road layby have also been repaired and the ‘sledging field’ has been cut and perimeter strimmed to cut back encroaching Bramble. The other major work carried out by volunteers was the resurfacing of the Alwins field entrance (pictured right). This has been for a number of years virtually unusable after wet weather with the path becoming very muddy. The Friends of Linslade Wood purchased over 2 tonnes of type 1 MOT and resurfaced the area, while there they also repaired the damaged fence and resecured the gate.

As usual, throughout the summer months we have had the occasional fire to contend with but no more than usual for the site.

  Bug Lab took place the second week of August at the site and am pleased to say that it was sold out.

Six site patrols have taken place during this quarter.


Studham Common

There were three action days this quarter, one of which the Greensand Trust attended. In August a variety of tasks were carried out on West common, the main task being to cut back Bramble and Bracken regrowth with the assistance of the GST’s ride-on mower. The volunteers then raked the cuttings off, and these were taken to the dumping area on the concrete road on east common. The September task was not attended by the GST, however some path cutting was carried out the week prior to the event over the three commons. Three site patrols were carried out in this quarter.

Knolls Wood

In September the GST assisted the Friends of Knolls Wood with their quarterly action day. The main task being clearance of Holly regrowth and selective felling of some of the larger Holly on the lower path. Ten volunteers assisted with this task. Garden waste continues to be dumped in the undergrowth along Monkey puzzle avenue and continues to be tidied and cleared away by GST. Site checks have continued a fortnightly basis.

Tiddenfoot Waterside Park

Three official action days took place win this quarter all three encompassing various tasks around the site. These included putting preparing the green areas for the canal festival, scrub clearance, cutting and raking of the acid grassland habitat and sanding and repainting the information panels. tree chippings on the ‘sands of time path’ to improve the surface.

Two of the throwlines have been stolen in this period and have been replaced as soon as possible, two of the newly installed benches have also had to be refitted due to the benches being forcibly removed and the securing stakes supplied being too shallow in the ground.

During the heatwave that hit during late August-mid September, patrols were carried out daily to ensure that throwlines and ‘no swimming’ signage was in place.

Clipstone Brook

Three patrols were undertaken in this quarter ensuring that all site furniture was in good order and that there were no dangerous trees or obstructions to the watercourse etc. One Morrisons trolley has been recovered from the greenspace behind Steppingstone place.

Heath Wood and Meadow

Three site patrols took place in this quarter. There was one volunteer task this quarter this was primarily a task which involved cutting and treatment of Rhododendron regrowth along the Eastern boundary with Plantation Road. Volunteer wardens continue to patrol the site and report issues directly to the GST rangers to deal with. Motorbikes have become a problem on the plateau opposite the golf club and tracks are being found on a regular basis in the area. A large den was removed from the back of one of the properties in September and dumped rubbish removed from the main entrance area where it had been fly tipped.

King Street and Millbank Meadow

One volunteer task has taken place at King Street and Averys this quarter, this was caried out with GST volunteers (Weds group). The task involved cutting and raking the wildflower meadows at King Street and Averys meadow.

Eight trollies have been recovered from the site this quarter, five Aldi trollies from the Millbank area and three Tesco trollies from the King Street meadow area.

Eastern Sites

Ranger Jamie and the Eastern Volunteers worked on bracken management and fencing at Maulden Heath while Himalayan Balsam control took place at Clophill Lakes.

Annual hay cuts were carried out at Deadman's Hill A6 RNR, Steppingley Hospital, and Ampthill Churchyard, led by Ranger Michael from the Ampthill Team.

Maintenance works for rides, ditches and tree enclosures occurred, along with the annual pond management task at Sandy Smith Nature Reserve. Work began there on opening a new glade/tree enclosure in the Upper Alders and the annual hay cut was conducted at Duck End Nature Reserve.

Throughout this quarter, the Eastern Volunteers contributed 1,407 hours of work across 20 tasks, with an attendance of 295 volunteers.

Mink control efforts resulted in the removal of 8 mink during this quarter, with 5 from SSNR and 3 from CHL. This brings the total to 9 mink removed since control activities began, including 1 in June from CHL.


Biodiversity & Heritage

A successful guided walk through the various types of grassland and meadows at Maulden Wood was held at the start of July to coincide with National Meadows Day.  This was followed in August by a walk exploring the heathland creation area, timed to coincide with the flowering of the heather.

Once again funding was received from Anglian Water, via the Cambridge Community Foundation, to support work pulling invasive Himalayan balsam from Sandy Smith Nature Reserve and Clophill Lakes and purchase equipment for volunteers.

 Species monitored as part of the county-wide Flora Guardians project included greater broomrape, which came up at Stockgrove but not Maulden Heath this year, and bog pimpernel (pictured) at Duck End which had a good year.  Yellow vetchling, a Nationally Vulnerable species, was found at SSNR.

At Clophill Lakes, the Bedfordshire Bat Group held an evening bat survey and also put three static bat recorders out on site for a number of days to start building up a picture of how bats use the site.  Badger activity on site was carefully monitored and a plan drawn up to ensure they would not be disturbed by the work on site creating paths and restoring bridges.

At the end of September we took part in a presentation on creating garden wildflower meadows organised by Ampthill Climate Change Group.

Consultancy work undertaken by our Biodiversity team this quarter was as follows:-

  • Stewkley Village Hall, Stewkley Preliminary Roost Assessment
  •   St. Joseph's Convent, Olney Preliminary Ecological Appraisal
  •  Cripps Lodge, Netherfield Biodiversity Enhancement Scheme and Management Plan
  •  Grove Farm, Bierton Dawn Bat Survey
  • Barn at Church End, Leckhampstead Bat Survey
  • Outbuildings at Well House, Church Road, Bow Brickhill Bat Survey
  •  Manor farm, Passenham Preliminary Ecological Appraisal
  • The Edge, Pulloxhill Preliminary Ecological Appraisal


During this period the GST Facebook audience increased to 1,992 followers/ 1,796 likes.  The GST Instagram now has 1066 followers while our X page (formerly Twitter) has 1633 followers. Our average page reach during this quarter on Facebook was 30K, up 36% on previous quarter, and 741 on Instagram, slightly down. Post reach remains high at 20.6K, up 57% on previous quarter, with good engagement attracting around 1K likes, comments and shares.

  The post with the highest reach was regarding our Bug Lab events (13K) while a post on our hay cut on Deadman’s Hill on the A6 had 1.7K reactions and a post in September on grasslands attracted 9 comments.

Two press releases were issued during the quarter. The first announced that Rushmere Country Park was once again awarded the prestigious Green Flag Award  (Ranger Gary is pictured far left receiving the award on behalf of the park). A second detailed the official opening of a gateway feature to the Greensand Ridge in Leighton Buzzard.

Electronic newsletters were sent out to our 2K+ subscribers to promote our events – particularly those proving hard to sell such as the storytelling event Lazy Jack at Rushmere to coincide with Heathland Awareness Week and a Heathland Walk at Maulden Heath. Two newsletters were sent out in July and Aug to promote all the summer activities, including café promotions, at Rushmere. We continue to send a monthly update of progress at Clophill Lakes to the village’s local publication Clophill Spotlight to keep residents informed.

Analysis of our Google Search performance showed that the Trust website was visited by 15.9K (slightly down from 17.3K) with 158.5K (up from 154K) impressions in this quarter.  Top performing pages were as usual Rushmere Country Park (6.74K), Woburn bike day ticket (1,535) and Ampthill Park (868). The Summer Fayre and Dog Show was a top growing page in July and August and our careers and volunteering section of the website also entered top growing in August as we were recruiting.

Facilities and Associated Activities


Rushmere Country Park

Site, toilets and Facilities, Café & Visitor Centre

Rushmere Country Park was awarded the Green Flag Award again this year. We will be subject to a mystery shop during the year but our documentation and management plan earned us the award.

The toilet facilities continued to be open with regular cleaning.

The kitchen retained its 5 star Health & Safety rating.

We further reviewed and revised the Tree Tops menu looking at previous sales and with a focus on delivering efficiently at peak times. We have also reviewed the pricing and margins. Our opening times were extended to 8am – 6pm to encourage early and later customers to coincide with the extension of the Park Summer opening times. New Menus have been designed and we will monitor sales, feedback and service times. Closing times will follow the park closing times throughout Autumn and Winter.

Park Opening times will change to coincide with the onset of darker evenings.

Sunday 17th September – 8am – 7pm (Treetops 8am – 6pm / Visitor Services 9am – 5pm)

Saturday 30th September – 8am – 6pm (Treetops 8am – 5pm / Visitor Services 9am – 5pm)

Sunday 29th October – 8am – 5pm (Treetops 8am – 4.30pm / Visitor Services 9am – 5pm)

Actions to Improve Accessibility

We have worked on improving the accessibility to the Café which included new signage, making the front of the café as the main entrance into the café and creating a new access walkway directly onto the decking. Dog owners and cyclists are directed this way. We improved the frontage with additional paving, and introduce a new planting area that informs our visitors about native plants and have created a heathland section as well, this can also be used as an educational resource. We have some native trees that are also available for retail.


We had minor repairs to sinks, locks and lighting at both Rushmere and Stockgrove facilities.

The Café Kitchen Extractor Fan had to be replaced which included a new fan, electric spur and isolator switch.


We had some issues with our barrier intercoms struggling to connect to the visitor centre, power boosting units were installed and seem to have rectified the issue. We have now fully moved over to the ANPR system, we still have the card system working in tandem which is useful, but once the infrastructure is broken then we will not replace it.

Conservation & Ranger Activity

Dog bin emptying is now being carried out by GST rangers.

One ranger has moved on to pastures new and a new one is currently being sought.

Volunteer tasks carried out this quarter have included grass raking at Stockgrove to encourage Orchid and Heather growth in the marshy meadow, Heathland restoration on Lords Hill, erecting a fence around the Heathland area outside the visitor centre to restrict trampling of the Heather and clearance of Rhododendron by the visitor centre. A new horse trail has been constructed as a diversion during timber removal operations.

  Events Update

Dog Show & Summer Fayre - Sunday 20th August

The annual Summer Fayre and Dog Show was a success, it was a lovely day with great weather. The visitor numbers started modestly but picked up as we approached the dog show competition, we believe that the Women’s World Cup Final was a likely reason for this. Once the Dog show started the car parks filled up and we then had additional parking on our lower meadow.

We would be interested for next year to form a group of local people who would like to help us in building the event. We feel that the event is well attended but we would like local people to have more input and feel a part of the event. If anyone has any suggestions as to parties that may be interested in getting involved please do let me know.

Upcoming Events:

October Half Term – Tree Trail – Self Led Trail

Feed The Birds Event – Sun 29th October

Christmas Period:

Christmas Tree Sales – As previous years

Christmas Café Fun event – Similar to what we did last year where we open up the café late for some fun festive activities

Fairy Trail – Self Led trail

Fairy lantern – Bookable education-based lantern making event.


Greensand Country

This quarter has been a busy one for the Greensand Country Landscape Partnership. In August we supported Heathland Awareness Week, with our portable heathland display proving popular at events, with children spotting heathland creatures for prizes. We also expanded our QR code interpretation to Hollybush, a grassland site in Clophill.

We’ve also been working to promote greater awareness of the area’s unique heritage. Working with volunteer historian Margaret Roberts we produced a resource pack on ‘Monastic Heritage in Greensand Country’, which combined new research and interesting facts on the rich history of monastic institutions dotted along the Greensand Ridge. We also held a training session for volunteers to take part in Historic England’s ‘Missing Pieces’ project to add images to the National Heritage List. Volunteers are now working on adding images of listed buildings, registered parks and gardens, and ancient monuments. Some have even been highlighted by Historic England as their favourite pieces of the month.

If you are local to Flitwick, you might have spotted the new bug hotel at ALDI. We’ve been working to create some digital interpretation to raise awareness of habitat connectivity and the biodiversity that can be found across the site.

Right at the end of the quarter, we held an information and networking session for local businesses and visitor attractions. It was great to meet with representatives from over 20 different organisations and share information on funding and promotional support they can tap into. We plan to deliver more events to support local businesses and partners soon, as well as meeting members of the public at events across the area.