Many Small Steps and One Giant Leap

One of our Giant Hogweed spotter couples surveyed the River Tyne in Vogrie Park recently, and confirmed there is still none - i.e. it hasn't spread upstream from the major source of infestation just down from the A68. Good news. But on the way back home they noticed what looked like dozens of plants near the start of the Pencaitland Railway Walk. Checking the map I could see that this insignificant streamlet, called the Bellyford Burn, way up at Cousland, does eventually feed into the Tyne at Pencaitland. So I went and checked - and there not dozens, but a couple of hundred flowering giants - just when we thought we were removing the last few plants this year on the whole river!

The task in front of us...

So we made an emergency call for help, and many volunteers responded immediately. Those who could then assembled on site (obviously social distancing at all times), and over 2 hours dead-headed and bagged all the plants. Then James Wyllie, with his license and back-pack, sprayed all the leaves. The farmer later came and took the 8 large bags away for burning, and promised to come back and spray in the future. A success.

Is PPE always Yellow?

All Cut Off ...

(except last year's)

.. and bagged up


A major problem and a major solution!

GH Lockdown

Some of are lucky enough to live within walking distance of the River Tyne, and so despite lockdown have been able to go out looking for Giant Hogweed (// All these sightings have been added to the master map - see extract below. Where we haven't yet done any surveys we keep last year's sightings, as often the plants appear in the same places. This year's are coloured purple, so it's easier to tell them apart.

GH up to 3 foot wide (upstream from A1 Bridge)

Japanese Knotweed already 5 foot high (near Sandy's Mill)

Quiz: Name the 3 big green plants one behind the other

Facebook Posts Visible Again

You can see our   posts again, here!

In 2018 Facebook changed its rules, and it stopped us showing posts from our Facebook group. But that’s now fixed, well sort of – there are limitations – it doesn’t show anybody’s name, and multimedia are links rather than being shown. But it’s better than nothing!

But why not just take the plunge and join our group page at  NB: In my view, all these scare stories about data harvesting are a global strategic storm in a teacup, or better a thimble!

Giant Hogweed Program Gathering Pace

Our Giant Hogweed program is gathering pace. To support the farmers who are doing the actual treatment, we now have around 20 volunteer spotters. On Monday half of us met for basic training. The other half were due to meet tomorrow, so we've switched that to doing it over skype/phone.
The good news is that hogweed spotting - apart from the value to the community, the exercise, and being good for your mental health - is something you can still currently do (if you remember the 2 metre rule)!
Links to all the relevant info here

Mud on the Tyne

Last week we sorted out a really muddy part of the footpath on the Tyne, downstream from Hailes footbridge. We improved the drainage by cutting 2 new channels across the path, burying plastic pipes, and covering them over. It was messy work, but by now it should all have dried out (I'll check when I get back from holiday!)

Wanted: Your Help Spotting Giant Hogweed!

It may be attractive to look at, but Giant Hogweed can cause a very nasty burn. So we are eliminating it from the entire length of the river Tyne. But we need your help with spotting and recording the plants, so that the farmers who deal with them know where to look, and don't miss a single one (one flower can easily produce hundreds of new plants).

No experience is necessary - you'll quickly get to recognise the plant, and ideally we go out in pairs. You just need the odd half day free over the spring/summer, and be willing to get your wellies dirty! See the full story at //


Will you help?

Email us at



How much do you know about Giant Hogweed?

Complete the quiz and win a prize!

Get them all right and you win a fantastic prize!

Get any wrong and you still win a prize!

Improve your chances of winning by
first viewing our Hogweed page

What Prizes? Depends how many right answers you get:
>90%: You may spot for THE project whenever you like
80-90%: 1 free THE-Spotting training day
<80%: As many THE training days as you like!

Email us at to claim your prize


The Annual General Meeting of the East Lothian Countryside Volunteers charity will be held on Friday 13th (lucky us!) December at 2pm in the Haddington Town House, Main Hall (upstairs).
There will be reports on what the ELCV has achieved over the last year, plans for the future, and (re-)election of trustees for the committee (see agenda)
We are looking to recruit two or three new trustees, especially one to represent the Levenhall group, and to appoint one trustee as Secretary. If you are interested in any of these worthwhile posts, please let us know beforehand, eg by email to
All volunteers are welcome to attend, although to take part in any voting, or to become a trustee, you need to be a registered member of ELCV. If you aren't a member, but would like to be, simply email