Salt Island Clean Up

Another successful clean up day on Salt Island …

Salt Island Work Party

Craig McCoy of the National Trust’s Strangford Lough team has an unusual talent. He can spot a sunny day weeks off. So it was that after a wet and windy weekend, a little group of volunteers gathered at Killyleagh yacht club in blistering sunshine to spend the day working at Salt Island Bothy. As we waited for Craig and his launch, we mulled over the odd fact that every day there’s been a work party, the weather has been great.

The first task was to dig out an otter pond on the north side of the island. Apparently otters need a nice fresh water bath to keep their fur in good condition and this one was heavily choked with rushes, grass and other weeds. So we spent the morning hoking about in mud…glorious mud. Craig suggested we use the clods of earth we were digging out to shore up the sides and help to make a deeper pool, but I think we carried most of the mud away, carefully distributed about our persons.

By lunchtime there was a large area cleared of vegetation and scraped down to the original stony base. Better still, we had uncovered a large cap stone over the source of the spring, which was leaning back at an odd angle. Some more hoking about the mud had also uncovered much of the stonework which once held it in place.

At this time someone suggested a lunchbreak might be in order and Craig proposed heading over to the bothy. He seemed oddly anxious to emphasise the fact there was lots of soap and clean water available there.

Afterwards several of the volunteers returned to the spring, rebuilt the stone foundations and realigned the capstone. They also built a stony embankment for the otters to get in – and out – of the pond. By the time we were leaving in the afternoon there was a pond of positively olympian proportions waiting for its first customers.

Back at the bothy, the other volunteers dismantled one of the big wooden sleeping platforms which was surplus to requirements. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds as the person who built it obviously knew what he was doing. While Craig cleared out a blocked drain, others levelled up the rainwater collector which had come adrift and reconnected its overflow pipework. We picked litter along the beach, and finally, hauled some rocks out to the launch to weigh down the water pipe from the mainland. This had begun to float on the surface and was in danger of being snagged by any passing boat propellor.

Jobs done we headed back to Killyleagh, still bathed in hot sunshine, but now nicely protected by a deep layer of Factor 50 mud.

The next Bothy Volunteer day will probably be on October 2.

If you are interested in coming along, please contact Craig McCoy, National Trust Warden

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