End of year 2022 newsletter 

‘Tis the season for looking back over the past year – and what a great year it has been for FOGG!

The new year started off with a zoom meeting to look ahead: not only did we have a good look at the work of the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group’s water monitoring team along the Bickwell Stream aka the Wool Brook – but Ed Dolphin (also of the SVBG and Arboretum) was then able to get in touch with Paul Fealey, EDDC’s Horticultural Officer.

And so this spring the first working party started on the Glen, with the expert guidance of Paul, who has shown volunteers how to do some serious gardening, for example, keeping down the wonderfully-named “epicormic growth” – as things desperately need cutting back to give struggling trees and shrubs more space and air and sunlight. As working party regular Phil Lee has said, Paul’s instructions and mentoring “has made the work much more meaningful”.

Working on the Glen is very much a matter of balance – of ‘managing nature’, by keeping ivy and brambles at bay and allowing for a greater variety of flora and fauna.

It’s not exactly ‘rewilding’, then. As Phil has said, “Thanks to Paul, we can now field questions like ‘Why not re-wild?’ with commentaries about what re-wilding really is (and it is not just to let things grow, which leads to a predominance of a small number of species, and low biodiversity) and what we are going to achieve in Glen Goyle. When we have finished (which of course will be never) the biodiversity will have leaped from ‘poor’ to ‘splendid’.”

Already along the Glen there are badgers and nocturnal foxes, butterflies, birdlife and plenty of interesting fungi – and far too much of the dreaded three-cornered leek.

It’s not quite ‘restoration’ either, but about respecting the Victorian grounds and the special atmosphere of the place. “I love its natural beauty, peace and seclusion”, says another FOGG member. “Someone I know refers to it as the ‘secret garden’.”

And FOGG is particularly pleased to have been contacted by the family of Dr Cohen who lived at the former Asherton House, whose gardens now make up the upper part of Glen Goyle. David Bassett has sent in several fascinating stories, including about a lily and newt pond; he has sent in a wonderful map of the gardens from the 1960s; and Pat Bassett popped along to the FOGG stall at the Arboretum’s celebration with more stories.

In the meantime, John McGregor has been in touch with the council to get the fencing and bridges seen to, as we look to improving the fabric and infrastructure of the Glen.

Not only have the District Council been very generous in supporting FOGG, but in the late summer volunteers at last got their smart hi-viz vests “to make them look more official when they were out working” – thanks to a grant from the Town Council and commissioning and design by the VGS.

Ultimately, though, what it’s all about is enjoying the beauty and tranquillity of Glen Goyle – with volunteers sending in the loveliest photos over the months as the seasons change.

Next year looks to promise even more. We should be having a planning meet-up in the new year; new heritage stories from the Bassetts will be going on the history pages of the FOGG website; some heritage ferns should be going in, thanks to conversations between Ed and Paul; and the amazing working party have declared they are determined to carry on through winter!

A big thanks, then, to all those who have been involved in this year’s work along the Glen: very much look forward to 2023!


A fabulous photo of snow from FOGG volunteer John Hopkins: “Glen Goyle looking seasonal in March 2018”