Over the last few years, the Lower Mole Partnership (LMP) has been working to restore an area of chalk grassland known as Young Street Conservation Verge. Supported by Mole Valley DC initially and especially the Lower Mole Countryside Trust (LMCT), which has awarded several important grants to allow the work to continue, the site has been transformed into a high quality chalk grassland with great numbers of plants and particularly butterflies.

In the early 2000s, LMP volunteers had cleared the scrub along Young Street conservation verge and installed a new tractor access so the area could be maintained by SCC Countryside Estate. However, the maintenance stopped soon after and the scrub returned. Following conversations with Mole Valley DC in 2017 about managing good quality verges, LMP resolved to tackle this area again.

Volunteers hard at work 2018

In February 2017 LMP returned to Young Street Conservation Verge. Since then LMP has had several volunteer tasks aimed at clearing the scrub and mowing the resultant grass sward every autumn to restore the chalk downland. This has involved cutting back established scrub and small trees including birch, buckthorn and hawthorn, to open up the surviving grass sward below. Volunteers used bowsaws, loppers, and brushcutters to clear the scrub, with the stumps being removed by chainsaw, while all the brash was fed into a chipper to dispose of it. Pesticide was the applied to the stumps to reduce the regrowth the following year and the large meadow mower has been used to take a late season cut of the sward each autumn. Since 2017, Volunteers have given 641 volunteer hours to help clear 1ha of scrub and mow and rake the same area each autumn. Each year the open grassland sward and the biodiversity has increased.

The downland mown and raked late summer 2018

The result has been staggering with many chalk downland butterflies and wildflowers responding to the new regime. This included in 2018, over 200 spikes of pyramidal orchid! Other plants include Field scabious, St johns Wort, Agrimony, Creeping cinquefoil, Wild strawberry, Bladder campion, Ox-eye daisy, and Wild marjoram.  Butterfly species recorded here include common blue, brown argus, small copper, brimstone, small heath, dingy skipper and grizzled skipper, while banded demoiselles have also been recorded.

The verge in full flower summer 2019

SCC Ecologist, John Edwards, recently described the site as “fantastic”. He said “Looking at the verge, I have no doubt it would meet the favourable status we used for monitoring, it has a really good range of species. I was really not expecting that it would look so good so do pass the message on to the team”.
The work would not have been possible without the support of MVDC and LMCT who have funded the works. The LMCT has provided grants of £1700 over the last five years. The Lower Mole Partnership would like to thank the Lower Mole Countryside Trust for their support in carrying out this restoration, which has allowed this wonderful project to succeed.

Common Blue butterfly(Helen Middlemas)

(Many thanks to Helen Middlemas who has regularly visited the site to photograph and record the plants and butterflies)

Conor Morrow,
Lower Mole Partnership,
June 2021

The Trust attended the Epsom & Ewell Fair, on 15th September, and as well as telling people about the work of the Trust and the Partnership, organised two craft activities for children,  including making leaf masks and “Gods’ eyes”.


The Trust funded the purchase of new work signs for the Partnership.


Young Street verge

Over the last three years LMP volunteers have cleared 0.9ha of scrub from this rich sward, which has seen the return of cowslips and orchids and increased butterfly recordings  Previously, the work has been funded by MVDC and LMCT.  The Trust has agreed a grant of £1200 to fund the LMP to clear the scrub in the remaining section of this valuable habitat and cut any scrub regrowth in the previously cleared areas this autumn.

More tree poppers!

Owing to the success of the last tree poppers that the LMP purchased they have made another successful bid to purchase two more for a total of £594.  These are great tools enabling volunteers to pull out the roots of small trees, so no need to re-cut or treat with chemicals!

Mower training

The Trust awarded a grant of £1350 to fund the training of eight LMP volunteers in the safe use of pedestrian mowers.  This will help with the future management of many sites and make use of the mower that was donated to the LMP.

The Lower Mole Countryside Trust is very grateful for the donation from Waitrose, through its Green Token scheme, of  £1,641.60 this summer.

The funds are from the scheme, by which customers – having done their shopping – select one of three charities to which they want Waitrose to contribute.

The donation is much appreciated, and will be put towards our valuable work.

The Trust supports a wide range of habitat management, landscape enhancements and access improvements across the countryside of north Surrey by encouraging community involvement and raising funds to support work by local people and community groups, including the dedicated team of volunteers at the Lower Mole Partnership, who will be carrying out improvements at sites in Epsom, Leatherhead, Esher, Brooklands and Tolworth this winter.

Tree poppers

A grant of £495.00 has been given to the LMP for the purchase of two Tree Poppers.  A revolutionary new item of equipment that enables one person to extract scrub, woody plant species, ragwort and trees, roots and all.  This method of removal avoids the problem of multi-stem regrowth, and removes the need for herbicide treatment.

Young Street Verge

The LMP have been awarded £600.00 to enable the completion of scrub clearance at Young Street Road verge, including chipping the cut material. This will help maintain an area of valuable chalk grassland

Woodcote Millennium Green

The Trust awarded a grant of £1000.00 to the Woodcote Millennium Green Trust for tree clearance and dredging of the pond to restore it to it’s previous habitat.

The Woodcote Millennium Green is the only one in Surrey, and can be found at the rear of Epsom General Hospital.  In 1999 the Harwood family donated a large portion of land including the pond to be held in perpetuity by the Trustees of the Woodcote Millennium Green Trust.

For more information visit woodcotemillenniumgreen.org.uk


Epsom RDA hedge

The Trust has contributed £500.00 to Epsom Riding for the Disabled, towards the cost of a 300 metre hedge of native species.  This will create a valuable habitat for wildlife in addition to protecting their site from the wind  and improving security.


Personal Protective Equipment

The LMP have made a successful application to the Trust for £722.00 for the purchase of safety helmets, gloves, and safety goggles. This essential kit is to be used by their hardworking volunteers, to keep them protected whilst out and about in the countryside.


Small Blue Butterfly Project on the North Downs

The Trust awarded £2000.00 to Butterfly Conservation towards the overall cost of £62,700.00 for establishing a series of stepping stones to link up colonies of the Small Blue butterfly on the North Downs.

For more information visit butterfly-conservation.org




Thorncroft Manor hedge-laying

The LMP volunteers planted a boundary hedge at Thorncroft Manor, Leatherhead as a wildlife corridor and landscape feature along the River Mole in the early 1990s. In the early 2000s the volunteers laid the whole hedge, approx 250m, and it has since been pruned.

The hedge now requires laying again to rejuvenate it, encouraging dense growth, increasing the wildlife value and providing a market for produce from local coppiced woodlands. Halcyon, based in Thorncroft Manor, has agreed to pay 50% of the costs, with the remainder being met by a grant from LMCT and funding from Mole Valley DC.


Field Pond, HCP

2 Field Pond 9.17

The Trust contributed towards the cost of de-silting Field Pond in Horton Country Park by the LMP using machinery.

The LMP erected fencing around the pond 3 years ago to keep dogs out as the ponds biodiversity had severely declined. Since then the water quality has improved and great crested newts have been found, but work is needed to maintain sufficient open water. The Friends of HCP also contributed to this project.


Machinery refresher training

The Trust awarded a grant of £800.00 towards the machinery operator refresher training/re-qualifications for 7 Lower Mole Partnership experienced volunteers.

These machines are hired/used by the Partnership on seasonal tasks such as surfacing/access improvements and pond restoration, so it was imperative that the volunteers gained their re-qualifications alongside the staff so that several trained people can continue to be available on each task day to carry out this work safely and efficiently.

One of the regular volunteers Jon Webb who completed the training course (see photo) said “The use of machinery gives us the ability to achieve far more extensive tasks that make a real difference, in a shorter space of time. Also to be honest, although most of the time we prefer the peace and quiet of using hand tools, we all quite like to get out the big boys’ and girls’ toys on occasions!” l


Young Street Verge

The Trust has awarded a grant of £600 to complete more work along the Young Street Road verge. This is a wide verge alongside the boundary with Norbury Park, supporting a broad range of chalk grassland plants, including a steep bank. Scrub has encroached and shaded out the flora.

LMP spent two days last winter clearing half of the scrub, chipping it and treating the stumps. This was funded by Mole Valley DC. The grant from LMCT will fund the work necessary to complete the clearance on the level area over this winter.


Nonsuch Park Round Pond

NonsuchPondFence1 7-17

Following the positive results for wildlife of fencing Field Pond, Nonsuch Park Joint Management Committee agreed to fence off Round Pond to reduce dog disturbance, as this historic pond had lost virtually all the plants recorded as present by Surrey Wildlife Trust in 2005.

The LMCT received a donation for this work, which was added to by a SCC Member’s Allocation and a grant from LMCT in order to cover the full cost. The work was completed by the LMP in July.


Hunting Gate Open Space

Hunting Gate Open Space started as a narrow strip of land bordering Chessington Golf Course, with a public right of way running along it’s length. A couple of years ago the golf course closed down, and local residents became concerned about the future of this much valued strip of open space. A small group of local residents was formed, lead by Yana Pocklington. Yana met with the Lower Mole Partnership, Councillor Trisha Bamford and other interested parties to plan what could be done to improve and protect the area. Yana’s enthusiasm spread and soon she had work parties organised, promises of help and donations from local companies and a whole community engaged in this small but valuable site with a stunning view.

In a very short space of time hedges had been planted, rubbish cleared, bird boxes put up and a noticeboard installed. Yana secured funds from a variety of sources including the Lower Mole Trust, and since May the LMP have made several visits to the site. Works have included the installation of two kissing gates, a wild flower interpretation panel, a bench, some steps and a small boardwalk to bridge a muddy section. Volunteers have also cleared laurel, pruned trees and planted trees.

This is a fantastic example of local people caring about their wildlife and countryside, coming together and achieving an enormous amount on their doorsteps.


Epsom and Ewell Mayor’s Charity 

The Lower Mole Countryside Trust, (LMCT), is fortunate to be one of the three charities being supported by Cllr Liz Frost, Mayor of Epsom & Ewell for 2017/2018.   This is a great opportunity for the  Trust to increase awareness of our local environment and to raise funds to continue our work.  During the year there are  a selection of events planned to raise funds for the  three chosen charities – The Sunnybank Trust, Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell, and the LMCT.


Apprentice Training
The Trust agreed a grant towards the cost of chainsaw training at Merrist Wood for the Surrey Countryside Partnerships team apprentice.  This further increases the skills that he has gained during his time with the Partnerships.


Living Woodlands
The Trust continued to support the Lower Mole Partnership’s Living Woodlands scheme, and awarded a grant to the Nonsuch Park Volunteers (a living Woodlands site) for the purchase of a pole saw to replace the existing one which was no longer serviceable.  This allows the volunteers to undertake more effective tree pruning and maintenance.
Pollarding a willow with a pole saw

Pollarding a willow with a new pole saw


Castle Hill LNR

The Trust received a Neighbourhood grant from the Royal Borough of Kingston for the purchase and installation of a metal pedestrian gate, with a wooden kissing gate style box around it.  This is to stop motorcycles entering the site and also to give it a more cared for look.  This was part of an agreed plan with Historic England and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.

New gate at Castle Hill

New gate at Castle Hill


Teazle Wood

The Teazle Wood Trust was founded in 2015 by the Friends of Teazle Wood, who formed in 2011 to campaign to save Teazle Wood, 57 acres of woodland in Leatherhead.  It is a very valuable site with an interesting history.  A grant was awarded to them to continue with their habitat management work this year.

Managing scrub in Teazle Wood


Power polesaw training
Previously the Trust funded an application from the Lower Mole Partnership to purchase a powered polesaw.  However, its use was limited as only one member of staff was trained to use it.  The Trust has now funded training for two volunteers to be trained in its use.



Lamberts Orchard Pond
In 2013 the Trust raised funds from Surrey County Council members’ allocation, the Friends of Horton Country Park and a contribution from Epsom and Ewell Borough Council to enable the LMP to undertake the first stage in its restoration.   In 2015 the same funders gave further funding to enable the LMP to undertake a second phase.

Pond restoration


Friends of Ashtead Rye Meadows Wetlands
An increased volunteer workforce meant that the Friends had an insufficient number and variety of tools, especially when joined on task by other organisations.  The Trust agreed a grant to enable the Friends to purchase the necessary items.



First formal corporate partnership with Kantar Worldpanel UK


Debbie Hescott, Surrey Countryside Partnerships Business Development Officer , writes:           

We are very pleased to announce our first formal corporate partnership with Kantar Worldpanel UK, based in Epsom town centre and with a second office in Hangers Lane, West London.Kantar Worldpanel is the global expert in shoppers’ behaviour and the company has the UK’s largest consumer panel. Comprised of 30,000 households, the panel enables the company to offer the largest single source of continuous consumer and shopper insights.

The company has a strong corporate responsibility, nationally and internationally. Their Helping Hands’ initiative was established in 2010 as a way for Kantar Worldpanel UK to give back to the local community in a more personal way. Volunteers from across the business drive their UK charitable work through fun internal activities and formal partnerships with local charities.  The Lower Mole Countryside Trust is proud to be the first charity now being formally supported local to their Epsom office.

Staff have already provided their ‘helping hands’ during the last couple of years, joining in with Lower Mole Partnership summer Himalayan Balsam bashing at Bonesgate in Chessington.  For 2016 we will be offering four, varied Lower Mole task days for staff to join in with, plus we are aiming for a large number of staff to come out for a nice spring task on ‘Give and Gain Day’ on 20 May.

We also hope to work on future fundraising initiatives in partnership with Sophie Quinn, an Analyst based at their Epsom office, who leads on organising the staff volunteering activities.  Sophie is a keen practical conservation volunteer and will be encouraging lots of colleagues to come out volunteering with us in the glorious local countryside.

Hema Patel, Employee Engagement Leader for Kantar Worldpanel UK said “We are very pleased to strengthen our partnership with the Lower Mole Countryside Trust and continue making a difference to our local environment in 2016.”

Debbie Hescott said “We are very grateful to Kantar Worldpanel for their continued enthusiastic support of our Lower Mole work. We are really looking forward to further developing our relationship with Sophie and the team and to welcoming staff out on task with us throughout the year.  We will be encouraging many more local companies to establish similar corporate partnerships with us as well”.



Rifle Range Path

Last year Elmbridge Borough Council asked if the Moles could help reconstruct the Rifle Range Path on West End Common, which the Project originally worked on back in the late 1980s!

The Trust received a grant from Elmbridge’s Medium Grant scheme to cover the cost of working on about 100 metres of the path which was completed last summer.  This August the Project completed another 90 metres.  This year the funding came from Elmbridge’s Community Infrastructure Levy fund and went straight to the Project.

SCC Staff & vols2-RifleRangePath7-15

Also this summer another successful application was made to the CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) fund for the next 100 metres to be completed in summer 2016, so the Moles will be back there again!

The regular Moles volunteers were joined on the Rifle Range project by a group from SCC’s Strategic Partnerships team (shown in the photo).

Thank you to them for joining in so enthusiastically.