Nature walk from Stapleford 18 September 2021

We walked from The Granary, Stapleford, on the footpath towards Babraham past the black barn.  Our walk leader and naturalist, John O’Boyle, writes:

From the Granary we strolled along the path past two enormous white poplar trees.  Their leaves bear a white felt coating on the underside.  Common Mallow plants with bright pink flowers brightened the way.  The soft leaves of this species were traditionally used in sandwiches. A wayside weed, Bristly Oxtongue, was also seen with pimples on the bristle-bearing leaves.

Many small white butterflies accompanied our walk in addition to shiny green tinged ground beetles crossing the path.  Late-flowering bright red poppies were in evidence; these probably came from seeds thrown up by agricultural activity.  The seeds can remain dormant in the soil for decades.  There was a female hop plant trailing over a chain link fence with highly aromatic cone flower heads.  Another aromatic plant was observed , Pineapple weed, which is a prostrate species on well trodden footpaths.  It lives up to its name with a distinctive smell of the fruit.

A large swarm of Ivy Bees was buzzing close to the ground.  This species has colonised from mainland Europe in recent years.  Individuals could been seen entering small burrows where it lays its eggs and develops over winter to emerge as adults the following May.

We reached the crystal clear waters of the river where a group of children were happily splashing about in the ford.  Himalayan Balsam was seen along the banks with vivid pink domed flowers known colloquially as ‘Policeman’s helmets’. Although this is an attractive plant it is an invasive non-native species that smothers our native riverside flora, thus upsetting the natural balance.

An unexpected highlight on our return was a small murmuration of Starlings that had congregated on electricity pylon wires across the path – they took off in unison forming dramatic changing aerial shapes.

The next walk will be at The Stone House, Stapleford, on 16 October.  Further details here.

Plastic-free July: some ideas for signs and crafts

As you know, we are now well into July and 2G3S is joining in with the Plastic-Free July campaign (more information here).

Here are some of the fabric whales and signs that 2G3S members have put up in their villages – on noticeboards, in windows, on benches, lampposts, even on a telephone junction box!  It’s not too late to join in – so get creative and let’s get the message across!



2G3S Summer Nature Walks

We are grateful to John O’Boyle, who is again leading a series of nature walks for 2G3S this summer.  John is a great guide – informative and very happy to answer questions and follow the interests of the group.  His quiet enthusiasm for the natural world is infectious.

We started with a walk round Dernford Reservoir on Saturday 26 June.  There were nine of us, plus dog!

John reports:

We were treated to the distinctive call of a cuckoo and the uplifting song of larks as they ascended from the grassland around the lake.  Terns were busy squabbling on the island where they seem to be nesting and showing off with their acrobatic flight and vertical dives into the water.  A Great Crested Grebe was seen diving down into the water and then passing small fish to her two chicks with their distinctive striped heads.
Dazzling blue damselflies hovered above the water and a pair of large Emperor Dragonflies zigzagged near the bank.  There were several Meadow Brown butterflies fluttering about and small chafer bugs sunning themselves on the vegetation.
June is the month for grasses to flower and we contrasted the distinctive shapes of several species.  There were abundant meadow plants of many colours ranging from white to purple.
It will be interesting to see how the meadow develops over the year – will a sensitive grass cut and collect regime maintain the diversity of the ground flora or will the land be left to scrub over? We are fortunate to have on our doorstep such a special area of natural abundance.
Coming up:
24 July at Stapleford Chalk Pit – further details here
21 August in Little Shelford
September in Sawston

Annual Open Meeting 7 December 2020 – report

2G3S Annual Open Meeting 7 December 2020 – by Zoom

16 people present, with 4 apologies.  Claire Lord chaired.

Review of 2020

2 Conversation Evenings in person (Natural Disasters; Eco-friendly gardening); 3 by Zoom (Cook stoves in Africa; Extinction Rebellion; Sustainable Diet).  Better attendance in person, although the Zoom meetings still averaged around 15 people.

1 Repair Café, in Great Shelford at the end of February.  Held jointly with GS Free Church who ran a Swish (high-quality clothes swap) at the same time.  Very successful with nearly 70 items seen and 12 repairers present – over 50% items repaired.

Other Events: Open Eco home; guided nature walks; fruit and veg swap; ‘The Story of Plastic’ online film show and discussion.

Campaigns: SE Busway proposals; Greater Cambridge Green Infrastructure survey.  Traffic surveys in Great Shelford.  Involvement with 4 local bids to South Cambridgeshire’s Zero Carbon grant scheme, all successful.  Major representation at MP Anthony Browne’s Zoom calls as part of The Time Is Now campaign and subsequently.

Plans for 2021

Agreed to meet every month and alternate planning meetings with events; probably all on Mondays or Thursdays.

Conversation Evenings: It was thought that we should ensure conversation evenings include what actions we can take locally in our community or as individuals, and pick events that will be attractive more widely in the community.

Agreement of themes: Water, local planning issues and possibly some of the strands in the government’s 10-point plan on climate change, eg green public transport, cycling and walking; greener buildings; protecting our natural environment.

Other events considered: cycle rides; nature walks; another Wandlebury event; virtual Repair Café (like Gardeners’ Question Time?)


Convenor: Claire Lord

Co-chairs: Sophi Berridge, Peter Fane

Treasurer: Chris Cooper

Meeting notes: Jane Chisholm, Helen Hale

Publicity: Beth Atkin (social media), Helen Hale (village magazines), Linda Whitebread (newsletter and website)

Repair Cafés: Chris Cooper, Yasmin Emerson

Greener Sawston rep: Yasmin Emerson

You can contact any of us at – say who the email is for and it will be forwarded.

Planning for Net Zero: second edition

2G3S supporter Anthony Cooper has written a timely and very comprehensive paper entitled ‘Planning for Net Zero’ which you can read here.

Note this is a second, revised edition (November 2020) which includes an author’s preface.

Topics covered include:


The Climate Change Act

Sustainable Development





Water Supply, Flooding and Waste Disposal

Atmospheric Pollution

Commerce and Industry


Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry and Fishing

Conservation and Heritage


Green Belts


Where do we go from here?

Anthony is a retired government legal adviser (Treasury Solicitor’s Dept and Department of Trade & Industry) and  has taken a keen interest in town planning and environmental issues for many years.  He served on the National Committee of CPRE in the 1990s and has been an active member of Cambridge, Past, Present and Future (formerly the Cambridge Preservation Society) for 30 years.  He currently serves on the society’s Planning Committee.

Please note that the views expressed in Anthony’s paper are  personal and do not necessarily represent those of 2G3S as a whole.

If you wish to comment on Anthony’s paper, you can reach him via 2G3S.   Contact us at , with the heading ‘Cooper Net Zero paper’.


Earth Day April 22 2020

The celebration of ‘Earth Day’ began in the US in 1970 when Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat Senator and governor of Wisconsin,  proposed April 22 as a day for Americans to speak out about the environmental crisis.  See him speaking here.

Since then Earth Day has been observed not only in the US but around the world.  In 2016, the United Nations chose Earth Day as the day when the historic Paris Agreement on climate change was signed into force.

2020 represents the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day and the theme for this year is climate change.  It is ironic that on the one hand events to mark the day will this year have to be digital because of the coronavirus pandemic (arguably itself a result of our cavalier and exploitative approach to the natural world) while on the other hand environmentalists may be welcoming the fact that the price of American oil has just gone negative for the first time ever.

For more information, and how to get involved, visit the Earth Day website.

Coronavirus epidemic

Please note that, as you would expect, we are not able to meet in person during the current lockdown conditions.

Planning is still going ahead online.  Contact us if you would like to participate.

Apple Day at Wandlebury

2G3S Apple Day, Wandlebury, 1 – 4 pm Saturday 5 October 2019

We held a successful Apple Day with Cambridge Past, Present and Future (CPPF) and Orchards East at Wandlebury on Saturday 5 October. Activities included:

  • Guided walks around the Wandlebury Orchard
  • Fruit and nut identification

  • Talk on the care of fruit trees
  • Apple juicing
  • Talk on cooking with apples – samples and recipes
  • Talk on cider making
  • Archery for adults (and soft archery for children)

  • The Cambridgeshire Beekeepers’ Association [CBKA] with information about all pollinators and a glass observation beehive
  • Activities for children, including crafts and games, and story reading by well-known children’s author ISABEL THOMAS
  • information about local environmental and horticultural groups

The weather was kind to us on the day; unfortunately the season hadn’t been a good one for apples and the juicers got off to a rather slow start!  But all in all a very enjoyable afternoon.