Land Manager's Diary: Read it here>

The Lake District was looking incredibly beautiful in late December sunshine; trees white with frost, mountains sparkling and lakes glittering with ice. So what do you do when it's -6c at lunchtime? Well a bit of hay timing of course!!!

It may seem a very strange thing to be doing in December, but loyal volunteers Charles and Richard helped out for a few hours on our latest idea that may be madness or brilliance, time will tell! Dam Mire Wood will one day be a lovely deciduous wood, but whilst the trees are growing it is a bumpy field with very dense grass and not a lot of diversity.

When we planted the trees, we kept a few areas open and have wanted to try and diversify the species in those areas. We had originally intended to plant some meadow plug plants into them next year but when it got to thinking more about it, we decided the dense grass would smother any flowering plants altogether. The solution? Hay rattle. We have worked with hay rattle at High Borrowdale for the last 20 years as it is an essential component of hay meadows. It is an annual but is really valuable as it is parasitic on grass so acts to really suppress grass, giving flowering plants a chance to grow and then the seed drop and set in the soil for the next year.

So hay timing it was – although the patch we were working on was only small, it took two strimmers working to get the grass down. We then raked it off, strimmed again, raked again and finally began to see some soil. We then spread and trampled some hay rattle seed which luckily needs some cold weather in order to germinate and sat down to enjoy our mince pies as the sun set over the fells to the west. Whether the seed takes next year or not we will have to see as the grass really is dense. If it does, then we can decide if we need to put down more rattle or we can go for some plug plants, and whether we also do another area. 

That marks the end of our workparties for this year as we have decided the cold would beat us walling, just getting the stones out of the soil would be a challenge. So we would like to thank everyone who has joined us this year, given their time, good will and humour to do some fun and rather more boring tasks. We could not manage our land without the help of volunteers and there is always something to do and something to learn from you all. So a heart felt thank you.

Dates for 2023 work parties and booking>

We hope you have enjoyed the Land Manager’s Diary this year. If you have any thoughts on what you would like to hear about, do let us know.