What is it and how did you acquire it?

Dam Mire Wood  is a two hectare piece of land gifted to Friends of the Lake District by member and local resident Prof Mike Hambrey in 2021. He wanted to gift the land for conservation purposes for the use of the local community and public. The generous gift of the land makes this Friends of the Lake District’s most northerly piece of land.

Friends of the Lake District was one of the handful of charities to benefit from money gifted to the 'Friends of Blencathra' following the unsuccessful attempt to buy the mountain. When Prof Hambrey offered us the land and the Friends of Blencathra donated us some money, it made sense to link the two things together. We wanted to use this money for some land as close to Blencathra as we could to honour the spirit in which the money was given and it would be hard to get much closer than Dam Mire Wood as it sits on the lower slopes of the mountain! 

What have you done so far?

The land is quite wet and boggy and also rocky and tussocky. It would therefore not lend itself to any form of machinery which limits the options for its use. Whilst we were doing the legal transfer, Mike and Friends of the Lake District worked with the West Cumbria Rivers Trust and Threlkeld School children to plant over 1000 trees and to install 'leaky dams' which help to slow the flow of water across the land.

Once the legal transfer was complete, our first job was to install a new access route as the only previous access was via Mike’s garden. Dan Boardley of DB Contracts built us a brand new path and larch bridge across the beck allowing public access. This will allow those with disability or access issues to get to the site. We're really pleased that we were able to part-fund this work with the legacy money from the Friends of Blencathra and put the generous donations to work in the shadow of Blencathra. 

As soon as this was done, we held a grand opening event in spring 2022 where people could join us and take part in activities. The children of Threlkeld School joined us all day for fun and games. We asked people what they wanted to see on the site and many people filled in a survey to help us with future plans.

Since then we have been very busy doing lots of work:-

  • We have created a circular path around the wood for people to enjoy.
  • We have had an ecological survey and a bird survey.
  • One of the recommendations of the ecological survey was to put in some wetland plants to give more diverse habitats and more food for pollinators. We did this in Nov 2023.
  • We have put up a tawny owl box and several bird boxes to help local birds.
  • The public survey showed people would like a shelter and some seats. We have built a shelter and the family of the late Stephen Knafler have kindly put in a lovely seat. We have more benches on order.
  • We have put in a new hedge with the help of the Threlkeld School children who also use the site regularly for their outdoor learning activities.
  • We have established regular workparties to help us look after the land.
  • We registered the wood as a Queen’s Green canopy wood to mark her Platinum Jubilee in 2022

What are the plans for the future?

We very much want this land to be used by the local community and the public so we really want to know what they would like on the land and how they want to use it. The survey we did at the opening event gave us lots of ideas and we are gradually working through them as you can see above.

Other ideas include:

  • A willow den (being built 29 Jan 2024)
  • Small wildlife pond
  • Events and workshops
  • Information both on site and on line
  • Webcams and camera footage 

How can I get involved?

We will be holding conservation work parties every few months to help with jobs on site such as weeding the grass from around the trees, tree and tube staking and maintenance, clearing the leaky dams, wall repairs. If you would like to know the dates or book on a day, please see www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/volunteering

We would love someone to research the history of the site from old maps and records.

If anyone has experience of plant, bird or invertebrate surveys, we would love to hear from you.