Well so far it has been a week without getting wet, highly unusual in Lakeland since last November but very welcome! It’s that week when we normally get the first sightings of the swallows returning, and hear the first cuckoos calling, but with the cold they seem to have been delayed. But, the Helm this week showed us the bluebells are coming up, just unfurling, and the wood anemones gave a lovely patch of glory. 

Image above: Cherry blossom and bluebells

We were joined by a big group of volunteers, many new faces who we hope will join us again in future. Our tasks were all to do with ongoing management and maintenance which always need doing.

It takes time and can be monotonous but has to be done and our volunteers are brilliant at helping with any task and just getting on with it. We could not do it all without them.

On the Helm things are just starting to grow and we know that in a couple of months, the path through the wood to the summit will be overgrown with bramble and bracken.  We have worked hard over the last couple of years to try and keep on top of it and it seems to be working. So the clippers, loppers, and saws were out and then it was the same job for the path along the bottom of the wood.

Let’s hope the paths now give people a way through for summer adventures without getting scratched and prickled!

That done, we moved on to the main part of the land and started on the gorse. We have a lot of gorse on the Helm, a good habitat for birds, rabbits and shelter for the stock, but it is all even aged and can be a fire risk. 

A job for winter will be trying to cut more fire breaks/rides and trying to get a more diverse age structure. 

 We made a start near the tarn on the edges, but it was obviously too boring for the ponies – they came to say hello and then retreated! Last month we planted up the enclosures with fruit and berry trees.  We could already see the difference in grass growth between the longer grass in the enclosure and the shorter pony nibbled grass outside. Storm Katherine had wreaked havoc with some tree tubes, so they needed a bit of attention too.

On Thursday we are excited to be hosting our volunteer thank you event.  This is a chance for us to thank all those people who generously give us time and without whom we could not do our work so effectively. It is not just those who come out with us on workparties, but also those who help in other ways, either in the office, with our policy work or at events.  This year we are having a trip to the Steam Boat Museum and a talk from the Arthur Ransome Society.  We are also having our first ever awards ceremony and in particular we have created a new category to reward someone for outstanding contribution which is in the name of our dedicated volunteer Jean Savage who died last year. Jean was the epitome of Friends volunteering and we hope would be quietly chuffed that we wish to recognise both her contributions and those of others.

The next workparty is tree maintenance and walling at High Borrowdale next Tuesday. Everyone welcome, book online here.