It’s been one of those manic weeks when we were out and about all the time which was fantastic. But with no desk time you can end up chasing your tail trying to catch up with all the work needed to keep things going and running smoothly. The cuckoos are now back in North Lakes, but still no swallow sightings, although they are back in the South Lakes. Colin Aldred, who takes the drone and film footage of our land, was down at Middle Bleansley near Broughton this week and snapped this lovely shot of a pied flycatcher.

The week kicked off with our second volunteer skills training event. It was back in the Rusland Woods again, this time with Eleanor Kingston the Historic Environment Officer at the Lake District National Park (main picture above). She took us back to pre and post medieval times when the valley would have been a noisy and polluted place. The woods were used in all kinds of ways such coppicing and charcoal production. Bark peelings were used in the tanning industry. It is almost unimaginable to picture the tranquil woods, now scented by the light perfume of flowering bluebells, full of noise and stinky smoke, dirt and mess. There were audible gasps and laughs as we strove to identify mounds and bumps in the woods – were they natural or were they pitsteads and charcoal burning pits? What looked like small rocks turned out to be bits of old slag from the blast furnace process used to make iron. We predict a surge in sightings of pitsteads in our woods now!

Image above: exploring a pitstead

Tuesday saw us over at High Borrowdale for our regular workparty. We had a great gang of enthusiasts helped by the predicted rain not happening, and sightings of the sand martins as we walked down. First task of the day was more bagging up of tree tubes so we can move them down nearer the office for recycling in august. The watergates were tweaked to keep the sheep out and then it was down to business with wall gaps being fixed, tubes removed from a planted bluff, and the new hedge checked. The bluff proved that some trees can grow at High Borrowdale despite our slow growth rates and extreme conditions, and it was also a haven of colour with primroses, marsh marigolds and marsh valerian all flowering. It was great to find some veteran hawthorn trees with over a dozen smaller saplings regenerating next to them.

In terms of the new hedge, is really encouraging that we found no failed hedge plants, with the majority of planting clearing the top of the tubes. But, the riddle remains – how can the same batch of plants grow as a hedge but when planted as trees?! All very odd….

The emergency repair works following the February storms have been done: the landslide has been cleared and the beck is now flowing where it should once again rather than across the meadows. Still more repair work to do, but at least the gates are fixed and stockproof and the meadow protected again. The power of nature, both in its positivity with the beauty of the birds and flowers we saw, but also its negativity with the amount of damage inflicted, is no where more apparent than down at High Borrowdale!

On Thursday we are due to meet with Electricity North West, looking at their overhead lines through our land at the Helm. They are anxious to chop down several trees under or adjacent to the line. We are anxious that they tell us when they are undergrounding the lines, why they cannot prune instead of remove, and how many replacement trees they will provide for us. It could be an interesting site visit…

If you fancy helping out with our woodland workparty in Mike’s Wood next week, wandering through the perfumed bluebells and primroses, you can book at