Over the winter we get to keep ourselves warm sawing, lopping, chopping and burning scrub. This is fantastic exercise, everyone gets impressive muscles from dragging branches and lobbing logs left right and centre. It's cathartic and invigorating, and moodily beautiful.
We are not wantonly destroying the nature reserve, this is the removal of invasive and non-native scrub that threatens to crowd out the more delicate dune-heath species. The aim to is to get the heather and marram grass back to places which have gotten swamped in bramble, bracken, sea buckthorn and gorse. There are also a plethora of small herbacious species that we want to encourage, and given that this reserve is 12% of the UK's dune heath, its a big deal!
Of course we do leave some patches of gorse for the wildlife as it is an important part of the landscape, and we do not cut after the 1st of March, as this is the start of bird nesting season. As an amateur coleopterist (beetle lover) I would like to recommend the gorse for its Rove beetles, many a small intrepid beastie have I found after we've cut a load of gorse down.
Incredibly spiky! Whilst at Murlough you will get spiked by a selection of flora, which is all part of the fun and makes you more at one with nature. Sea buckthorn is a classic, sporting the elegant long spike that gets you from any angle (and if you are cutting the butt-height clusters then you get spiked exactly there).
It is both friend and foe to us here, it helps stabilise the dunes from erosion as well as sneakliy attempting to carpet over the reserve, so we remove it judiciously. Recently we have also used the debris to thatch eroded areas of dune and prevent wind, wave and people running up and down the dunes accelerating the erosion.
The berries are good and can be picked in autumn; you can make jam (and probably some improvised viscous alcoholic beverage too) which is high in vitamin C and supposedly very medicinal.