This was the long-awaited SNTV working weekend away at Henman Bunkhouse in the Surrey Hills. Twelve of the group descended on this cosy building to spend a couple of days and nights working, eating, sleeping, and socialising together.
We arrived on Friday evening after navigating our way through the dark sunken lanes near Dorking, and those first through the door were quick to identify the best bunk to sleep in! Tesco kindly delivered our weekend’s rations, and we spent the first evening eating and chatting. A number of the younger members of the group were most dismayed to discover the lack of mobile signal and wifi, but they soon settled down to talk about cars, so crisis averted!
Saturday we awoke to mist and dampness in the air, and after a cooked breakfast to get us fuelled for the day, we set off on foot up the bridleway running past the basecamp in the direction of Duke’s Warren on the side of Leith Hill. Our task for the weekend was to clear an area of heathland of all the unwanted growth; bracken (NOT ferns!), trees, and brambles all needed removing to allow the heather, gorse, and broom room to breathe and grow. It was not unlike tasks we have tackled at Dawn’s Covert. Team Craske quickly got a fire going (our first of the season!) and we worked hard in the mist and then the rain that arrived. However, just before lunch the rain and wind really got going, and we were unfortunately forced to cut short the day and return to basecamp. Here we were able to dry off and have some lunch, followed by an afternoon and evening of quizzes and games. Harriet served up an excellent dinner of chilli and rice, with pudding being apple and plum crumble – the fruit having been picked by our hand at Melford Hall at the end of August.
On Sunday morning the sunshine returned which meant we were able to admire the view beyond the nearest trees! We continued to clear the unwanted vegetation, managing to complete the target area by the time we reached the finishing time for the day. Lunch was consumed back at the Bunkhouse, then it was all too soon time to pack up and leave. Some of the group made a quick trip to Leith Hill Tower on the way home to admire the views stretching all the way to the City of London to the north, and to Shoreham Gap to the south.
The weekend was a great success and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The main credit, and therefore massive thanks goes to Harriet for organising the bulk of the weekend, but all thank you to everyone who came along and worked together. Roll on the 2019 SNTV Working Holiday!