A day at Shaw Ridge

29th April 2022


Geraldine, one of our west Swindon litter pickers, alerted us to a section of woodland on Shaw Ridge behind Lydiard Tregoze Primary School. Lots of wood including entire fence panels had been dumped in an area of woodland. Given the difficulty accessing this space, it seems likely that this was dumped by one or more of the residents whose homes back onto this area. This kind of dumping is common. Other items of particular note included a pull-along bag full of an assortment of electrical tools, a large building rubble bag, and 3 compost bins.

We managed to meander our way out through the woodland with these large items back out onto the path. Members of the Flowers and Butterflies (FAB) group ensured that we don't step on the bluebells on the way out, as they don't regrow once trampled. A lot of heavy lifting later and we had some big piles of wood next to the path and assorted rubbish by the bins.

We called West Swindon Parish Council, who came out straight away to pick up the load. They were unable to take all the wood and so we did our best caveperson art with some charcoal and left a Keep Britain Tidy bag to hopefully inform passers by that this wasn't flytipping and would be collected.

Besides the big rubbish, 2 of our crew spent time cleaning smaller bits from a nearby bit of woodland on the ridge. They collected a few bags of rubbish between them.

We are looking to use the compost bins where I live and for community projects in south Swindon. I have an idea for the building rubble bag. The bag of tools appeared to have been stolen. It was soaking wet which had ruined many of the tools. We found a contact name and number on the side of one of the tools, so called it. It turns out that this had been missing since 2005/6. We explained the condition of it and offered to return it but were told that we could do what we wanted with it. We sorted through the various tools for ones that could be salvaged and reused. I've taken them home and will clean them up. One of my neighbours spends their time tinkering with cars; reuse so they tell me. They said that they'll have a look through the tools and give us some money for them. A good morning's work.

Shaw Ridge Primary School

In the afternoon, we supported a litter pick at Shaw Ridge Primary School which we had helped organise along with West Swindon Parish Council. There looked to be around 30 students taking part. The area all around the school was covered, as well as what they call The Unity Garden. This is a brilliant area, a project that they have been working on for many years to tranform an overgrown area. The garden is diverse; it has many growing areas including a polytunnel, places for nature such as hedgehogs and a brilliant insect hotel, sculptures and much more. The kids apparently love the area. It's easy to see why.

A lot of litter was collected. That included some strange items. We found a car steering wheel buried in the soil, as well as a satellite dish. The kids asked how it got there. Good question! It would be interesting to know. I am convinced that our current waste and recycling system doesn't serve our needs or best interests because such dumping is common. Rather than blaming, I think we need to understand the various contributory factors so that we may address them.

I showed some of the kids a photo of the flytipping that we had collected in the morning from nearby woodland. They were quite upset by it. For a brief moment, I regretted showing it to them. They again asked how this had happened. I explained that this was probably dumped by people living close by. I found their response interesting. Correlations between good education and connection to nature are understood to be beneficial to how we treat the environment, as well as physical and mental health.

A positive day! Litter picking is an education in so many ways. Many thanks to our litter pickers, Shaw Ridge Primary School, and West Swindon Parish Council, especially councillor Suresh Gattapur for going the extra mile.