What’s wrong with it?
The SSSI units of Latchmore Shade, Latchmore Mire, Thompson's Castle and Watergreen Bottom are in unfavourable declining condition due to the effects of artificial drainage, which is causing increased erosion within the mire systems, wet heath and grassland habitats. As a result of the artificially deepened and straightened Latchmore Brook, there is increased erosion of the river bed and limited channel habitat diversity, as well as limited seasonal inundation of the surrounding grassland habitats and therefore an inconsistent interaction with the floodplain, with the effect that these adjacent habitats are negatively affected.
How do we fix it?
The mire restoration work in Thompson’s Castle follows on from earlier work undertaken in the valley in 1999. In stretches where the drain is deeply incised, it will be partially infilled with hoggin and heather bales to create a shallower vegetated channel, to support the restored mire. Spoil heaps will be levelled and the material used as infill. There are a number of localised erosion nick points higher up in both the Thompson’s Castle and Latchmore Mire systems, often at stock crossing points. These will be repaired with staked heather bales.
The remedy identified to achieve favourable condition along the Latchmore Brook is to restore the original stream meandering course, and then infill the redundant (drain) channel. The restoration plan also includes felling work to clear scattered gorse, thorn scrub and young oaks that have colonised the lawns beside the meanders, as well areas of alder and collapsed willow along the line of the drain towards the Alderhill Inclosure end, to maintain the balance of open and wooded habitats on the Open Forest.
Latchmore is situated within what was formerly the Practice Target Area of the Ashley Walk Bombing Range, active from 1940 to 1946. Evidence indicates that there is still ordnance present, and therefore suitably qualified contractors have been engaged to safely locate, clear and dispose of any remaining ordnance prior to the commencement of any restoration work the area.
The gravel ford crossing beside Alderhill Inclosure will be relocated and made good.