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Volunteers work on a new sit-spot

Volunteers work on a new sit-spot

Published: 29 March 2019

Work on creating a riverside sit-spot on the Sharpham Estate is nearly finished.

Volunteers are creating a new seat beside the River Dart amid the reed-beds, where up to 25 people will be able to rest surrounded by nature by this summer.

Martin Beat is leading the team of volunteers. They started work last year, using grass hooks, loppers and shears to clear overgrown reeds from the circular boardwalk at the site - close to the Carriage Drive that runs from Totnes to Sharpham.

Said Martin: "When we first visited the site it felt like we were on safari and that elephants would emerge from the rushes which stretched in all directions around us and towered over our heads!"

Martin and the volunteers have designed the seat and sourced an oak log from The Sharpham Estate.

"We used a chainsaw mill to cut the first slab from the top of the log, and what a beautiful sight met our eyes!" said Martin. "The burrs on the log had left cats-paw 'pippy' knot markings all along the length of the log,

and as we cut more planks we saw that these markings continued throughout the log which was great news."

Once they'd cut the log into planks the volunteers set-to with hand planes, scrapers and spoke shaves to smooth off the top surface of the planks. They even worked through cold weather, being warmed by their fire.

The planed planks took six volunteers each to carry through the rushes to the site. The team has had dig in uprights to support the bench and wheelbarrow in stone to place around the posts.

Now they have to work on levelling each plank, securing them to the uprights, in order to make a solid seated area.

"The volunteers have been up for the many challenges," said Martin, "and have learnt a lot about tool use and woodwork along the way."

If you want to volunteer at Sharpham and get involved, get out on the land in a beautiful setting and be sociable with others, you can find out more by calling Volunteer Officer Maya Herbolzheimer on 01803 731802 or by emailing [email protected]

Pictures by volunteer Mike King and leader Martin Beat.

The Sharpham Estate reedbeds in October 2017
Hacking back the reedbeds
The site in March 2018
Slicing the log
Volunteer Tom gets stuck in
Planing the slice of log
Making the cut
Keeping warm
Heading to the riverside
Dragging the sections through the reeds
Volunteer Rob working in situ
The bench begins to take shape