On Saturday 25/07/2020 Timebank led a litter pick around the Tumbles area of Portobello beach. A group of about 30 members and non-members arrived at 10am, thankfully just as the torrential downpours ended! We all enjoyed a couple of hours doing various jobs from weeding the prom, to ridding the beach of litter; hunting tiny nurdles for the keen eyes to digging large carpet from the sand for the more adventurous, all members left with a sense of achievement. Well done to all and hopefully next time Covid-19 restrictions will have been relaxed enough to allow us to return to our traditional tea, cake and chat at the end of our next litter clean.
Early 2016 saw the start of various ‘group’ activities, and one of the most popular was (and still is) the Litter Clearance Group. Initially this was focused on Brunstane Burn, both in Magdalene Glen and downstream from Brunstane Station.
There is a separate post for Brunstane Burn where is passes through the woodland downstream from the station and Donkeyfield, due to the Conservation Group’s involvement here. Both sections of the burn have been cleaned up at regular intervals, with huge amounts of litter and other stuff removed.
Magdalene Glen has needed a lot of attention, and has been a regular meeting place since early 2016. Turnout is usually impressive. They are never just timebank events, but are advertised widely in Maureen Child’s newsletter, and in Facebook which results not only in local residents coming out to get involved, but often family groups from further afield as well.
The following movie by Laurence in April 2017 shows the unblocking of the ‘grating’ at the entrance to the culvert before the burn goes under Milton Link, Range car park and the railway. It shows about 90 minutes condensed into 33 seconds. Observe the water level at the beginning and the end!
In 2018 we progressed to a more preventative approach – we conducted a survey to quantify the scale of the problem, and presented it to our local councillors, Maureen Child, Mary Campbell and Kate Campbell. This resulted in the addition of two new bins, and proposals to Asda and The Range from MP Tommy Sheppard.
By November 2019 a noticeable improvement in the overall level of litter was apparent, so maybe we are starting to have a long term impact.
On Saturday 5th March 2016 a new activity was introduced to Portobello Timebank – an opportunity to join a team to work on a more substantial job, to clean up Brunstane Burn and path (John Muir Way) particularly downstream from Donkey Field. This local nature spot had suffered over the years from illegal fly-tipping and waste being deposited along its banks, so with Spring on the way there was an opportunity to make a big improvement while the undergrowth was still subdued after the long winter months. The work party of 18 bolstered by 10 students from the University of Edinburgh Business School, plus a large number of local residents, young and old(er), making it a truly effective community group effort. This made a big impact on the surprising amount of rubbish dumped in the burn from the bridge.
Pretty much the same team returned twice more in the Spring, and again the the Autumn, making a big impact with a huge amount removed and taken away by the Council.
This was James’s initiative, and he has always been the driving force, not only organising work parties, but making contact with the right people in the Council who provided the means of removing the rubbish at the end of the day. This applies to every litter picking event. However, it didn’t stop at simply removal of rubbish! James made contact with other Council officials responsible for woodland and agreed to participate in environmental conservation work to encourage indigenous species. Type of jobs ranges from removal of excessive ivy from trees, removal of self seeded sycamores, planting all sorts of young trees, plus spring bulbs beside the path and at the entrance from Daiches Brae. In March 2017 we planted a hundred or so crocus donated by the Rotary club in their support of the ‘End Polio Now’ campaign. A regular annual job is to weed out Himalayan Balsam from the banks of the burn every summer before the explosive seed pods burst.
On 24th April 2017 the Litter/Clean Up group (plus children and supporters) installed a bench on the Daiches Brae stretch of the Burn. This project arose out of an ‘Action Earth’ grant from Volunteering Matters Scotland, which allowed us to commission the Edinburgh Tool Library to design and build a rustic bench using a telegraph pole that was recently decommissioned and left in the area. The ground around the bench was cleared of nettles and planted with shrubs and wildflower seeds.
Not far from the bench is a luxurious bug hotel with slate roof, no less! And in 2019 an owl box was installed in a quiet spot hoping to attract a family of Tawney Owls.
Brunstane Burn of course continues upstream from Donkeyfield passing through a long culvert under the railway, the Range car park and Milton Link, finally emerging near the end of Magdalene Glen near ASDA.
Magdalene Glen is another area that is visited several times a year by the Litter Cleaning Group, and comes under separate posts.
Timebank members earn hours for the time spent on these Conservation and Litter Cleaning jobs, paid by the Community fund. It is a great way to meet new members as well as to earn valuable hours.