Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

Careful with that faggot, Matt

Delicate application of a Greensand Trust Ranger sets faggot in place

Delicate application of a Greensand Trust Ranger sets faggot in place

We spend hours and hours carefully selecting hazel and tying bundles to make faggots for a river bank restoration job in Leighton Buzzard, and Greensand Trust Ranger, Matt, quite without any thought for how delicate these faggots might be, puts them in place by a none-too-delicate application of his size elevens. Fortunately, they fall into line and seem up to this treatment.

I delivered a final load of faggots for use in the River Ousel at Leighton Buzzard this week and had the pleasure of meeting the Greensand Trust’s western volunteer team. A pretty intrepid bunch this; happy to don chest waders and struggle through a fast-flowing stream and wrestle with post drivers and stakes for a day, to get faggots secured in position.

It’s good to see the Environment Agency (advisor to and funder of the scheme) using this primitive technology in such important work. Without this¬† protection, the river looks to be heading towards a cycle track, then new some housing. This is a technique that is thousands of years old and really has proven the test of time. It should produce a softer result, more appealing to the eye and more likely to be sympathetic to the river’s wildlife than the harder, timber or steel pilings that would be the modern alternative.

There’s a Youtube video called ‘Pimps, faggots and benders‘ by Woodland TV featuring Alan Waters demonstrating the process of making up bundles of sticks – large (faggots) and small (pimps). The bender of the title is a simple shelter often made of hazel rods with the addition of a tarpaulin. ¬† I admire their confidence with the title; the danger of falling into some decidedly un-PC traps has made me rewrite the headline of this post several times and as I type, I’m not sure how it will settle. The link is well worth a look if you have a four and a half minutes spare.

 

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