Montgomeryshire in Mid Wales is a lovely county with rolling hills, rivers, woodlands and farms. The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway climbs out of the Severn valley, crosses the watershed near Castle Caereinion and from Cyfronydd to Llanfair Caereinion runs alongside the river Banwy.
A railway eight miles long has sixteen miles of lineside to maintain. If the vegetation is not cut back from time to time then railway starts to disappear inside a green tunnel. The hedges begin to scratch the paintwork or anyone foolish enough to lean out of the carriage windows; vast amounts of leaves settle on the track making the rails slippery and because of the restricted view the journey begins to resemble a ride in an underground train.
Close to the track the grass, brambles and hedges can be cut using a flail mower. Anything bigger or further away requires a more manual solution. It is in this domain that the somewhat mis-named “Hedgebash Gang” operate. There are times when hedges are tackled but most of the work is cutting down saplings and small trees.
The gang is formed from a mix of people – some who are regular all year round volunteers including drivers, firemen, guards and others who turn up just for events such as this. Away from the railway they have a range of occupations including: press officer, foreign currency dealer, Network Rail signaller, bus driver, youth worker and a fair number of fit and active pensioners.
The majority of the work is done with hand tools such as loppers and bow saws.
When the gang was first started old, large coppice stools had to be left to regrow. A few were cut right down using a two handed saw but this was hard heavy work.
Enter Darren a professional tree surgeon. He now follows on behind and makes short work of tidying things up.
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If you would like to take part in the next event it takes place on 22nd & 23rd November. Please meet up at Llanfair Caereinon station at 08:45. You will need to bring your own boots and overalls and a packed lunch. If you have never volunteered on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway before or would like some please get in contact via the Comments link below.
If you live in Mid Wales and require the services of a tree surgeon then I am sure that Darren Knibbs would be happy to discuss your requirements. He can be contact via this link <http://www.oakbeechvalley.co.uk/>