New Wood Chippings for the Play Areas

The mound of wood chippings might well be daunting, but with good will and friendly volunteers, the job should be completed in several hours.

The announcement went up a week or so ago: new wood chippings are expected [I’d thought, from Kielder Forest Products, but see Comments below]; the park will be closed while the delivery and spreading is accomplished; volunteers would be very much appreciated (from lunch onwards, they say, but since the chippings are coming in at 8am, maybe an earlier foray to assess the situation would be helpful?) to help spread the tons and tons of material around the play zones.

After that first announcement, the delivery was delayed, so they’re expected today, Tuesday, and it’ll be a case of ‘all hands on deck’ to get the play areas nice and cushioned again with fresh smelling chippings.

In anticipation of the delivery, a small gang of volunteers have got to work already on the nasty weeds that managed to get through cracks in the membrane underneath the old chippings.

Over time, the wood chippings do decompose, and every few years they must be replaced to maintain safety in case of falls from a height. You might be surprised at the tonnage required to safely cover the play areas. I seem to recall that the big lorry from Kielder can carry some 20 tons. Delivery costs are the same up to that capacity, so although a ton, or cubic meter, has a fixed cost, the relative cost per meter transported goes down slightly the more chippings are purchased; it pays, in other words, to purchase the whole requirement in one go.

But a mound of 15 tons or so of wood chippings, near enough to a full lorry load, is something else to see, let alone to spread. It’s a job for an energetic group of folks, that’s for sure! One year George Little handled farmer Nick Howard’s front loader John Deere and scooped up two wheelbarrow loads at a time, dumping the chippings straight into waiting barrows. That was a lot less work! Other years the job has been facilitated by workers taking turns on the loading, the barrow trundling, and the raking out.

And oh! The delight when it’s finished! The place looks spruced (ha!) up, with such a clean fresh smell. Families will feel safer, mud problems will be minimised, and the place will be so refreshed that it’ll feel new.

Thanks to all the volunteers — it’s surely at least a little consolation to realise how much the work is appreciated when it’s done!


  1. Believe it or not the chippings came from Norfolk at a significantly lower price!

    It’s been a great morning, all the 20 cubic metres of chippings have been spread and it looks great.

    Thanks to Liz, Ray, Hughie, Mike, Christina, Mary, and Gordon. Bacon butties at the Tea Rooms now!

  2. I’m sure you all considered the carbon footprint cost, and good for you. Everybody appreciates that the challenge is to keep the playing children safe, and the facility’s financial resources in the black, even though it feels a bit like bringing coal to Newcastle, doesn’t it, with Europe’s biggest planted forest on our doorstep. Perhaps Kielder Forest Products should re-consider their prices if they can be undercut by suppliers all the way from Norfolk! Anyway, thanks for the clarification, which is what the diary is all about, of course, and sure I’m glad to hear it’s all done and dusted.

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