Our aim of allowing oaks to re-establish throughout the copse – or at least wherever there is enough light for them to thrive – depends in part on keeping the sheep out through the winter. This is easier said than done. We’ve rebuilt all the breaches in the boundary wall and also top-wired it. Where the wall is a bit low, we’ve put netting along as well. That has kept out cattle and ponies for some years now. It would also be enough to keep out hill sheep. However, the neighbouring flock of Scottish blackface are mountain sheep, and they are pretty good at climbing walls.
This flock is leared (or hefted) on the surrounding part of Harford Moor, from Bullaven Hill, over Piles Hill, Sharpitor, the western flank of Three Barrows and up to about the Leftlake Brook. Some of them are the ones let into Higher Piles to graze during the summer. They were all cleared off earlier this month for the annual clearance. However, after being let back out on to the common, a few made a beeline straight back over the wall.
As a result, I’ve been improving the defences last Sunday and today, adding more wire along sections of the wall that are still accessible for sheep. The picture below shows a bit of today’s work, just as the sun was going down. There are still a few areas to do, and then we can try to clear the sheep out again.