Land Manager's Diary: Read it here>

We were back at High Borrowdale on Tuesday with the volunteers doing some wall repairs and looking after the new hedge, so we can give an update on how the meadows are looking for those of you who may wish to go and visit them. You'll find more information and location information on our High Borrowdale webpage.

As a reminder, we were one of the first to trial re-creating an upland hay meadow in 2005. Little was known about how to do it and despite prophecies of doom by some people we were successful in re-creating 4ha of this important habitat.

97% of upland hay meadows have been lost with changing hay timing practices – cutting earlier and for silage. We used seed gathered from the nearby Borrowbeck Meadows SSSI, roadside verges and our contractor’s greenhouse! In 2013 much more was known about how to re-create upland hay meadows and we used a technique used commonly now, that of using green hay to create a further 2ha of meadow.

We cut our own meadow and then took the hay and spread that onto the prepared field. Not surprisingly it looks very like the first field! We are extremely proud of both meadows and the contrast to the neighbouring field that has not been restored is huge in terms of colour, plant diversity, and the number of insects and birds around. 

We are in quite an extreme environment up at High Borrowdale and it is noticeable that growth rates are way behind somewhere like Kendal, perhaps by as much as 3 or 4 weeks. The meadow is doing well but growth rates are much lower than other places. So if you want to see the meadows, we would suggest the best times would be the second or third weeks in July.

Our grazier cannot cut until after July 22nd so you are guaranteed flowers until then! The other thing to note is that as hay meadows mature the flowers you see change. The early big colour hits were provided by the ox eye daisies and wow did they give us a show in the early years. They have now decreased and are replaced by more yellows and crimsons, reflected in the buttercup, hawkbits, meadow vetchling, red clover, knapweed and betony.

We did a search for the plug plants we have put in this year but in amongst the grasses and flowers it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. If you do go for a visit, I would love to hear what you think, or send me some pictures and I can post them on our social media sites - [email protected]

One of our aspirations is to do more survey work on all our sites. We would love to hear from you if you are knowledgeable about birds, insects, flowers and vegetation, lichens and bryophytes, wildlife or just about anything else and could help us survey some sites! Hopefully next year we will put on some dedicated training for people who are willing to learn more and then put it into practice on our land. If you fancy having a go, let me know what would interest you and we will see what we can do. 

In the meantime, we need all the hands we can get this coming Monday 20th June to help us at the fantastic Gillside and Tongue Gill Woods at Grasmere. We help manage this for owners Bev and Jo Dennison and the growth in trees has been so great that we really need to get the tree tubes off. No skills or equipment are needed, just let us know you are coming, we would love to see you! Book here>