What a difference a week makes! I blinked and summer has gone and it was back to 12 degrees and horribly wet on the Helm on Monday. But our dedicated volunteers were out and we cracked off some jobs. 

First task was back to chopping back the paths through the wood - a task that the walkers who went by appreciated! The growth of vegetation with all the rain is just phenomenal. How can bracken be so much taller than we are?!! Apparently, bracken is found on all continents except Antarctica and in all environments except deserts, not much escape then!

Interestingly, given that Cumbria has so many names that have Nordic origins, it may be no surprise that the name bracken is related to Swedish bräken and Danish bregne, both meaning fern. Bracken is one of the oldest ferns, with fossil records showing it was around 55 million years ago.

Rather like sheep, bracken used to have many purposes – bedding, food, etc but with changing agricultural practices, it is no longer cut and, whilst it hates being trampled, cows often no longer go on land where bracken now dominates. So the combination of no cutting and no trampling means bracken can spread rapidly, hindering access for everyone else.

But we could find a lot of new uses for bracken. In Japan, Korea and China it is used in rice dishes, soups and as a vegetable. Bracken can be ground into flour to make bread and in the Canary Islands it is used to make porridge. Many would prefer its use in Siberia – beer! Interestingly, in some Mediterranean areas, it is used to filter sheep's milk, and to store ricotta cheese. So if you are brave enough to give it a go, send us a picture and it might one day find its way in to the Friends of the Lake District recipe book, based on ingredients on our land!

Next job on the Helm was to check the tree enclosures. We removed some grass in the tubes of the new trees we'd planted in the winter and also evicted the odd slug. Growth seems good with only a few failures, as much due to slugs eating the leaves as anything. An unexpected task though was to re-attach the wire on one enclosure – it seems our friends the ponies/cows who were hanging around nearby have been having a go at it!

It was interesting to see just how much growth there was in the enclosures where the stock cannot get, and in some cases we had big stands of docks. Hopefully, in time, we will get some tree regeneration coming through. The top part of the Helm was a carpet of yellow buttercups and white clover. It's the place where the seven cows and seven native fell ponies hang out the most, maybe that is why cows are often called buttercup or clover!

On Tuesday we welcomed Grange Natural History Society back to High Borrowdale, about a decade after their first visit. The weather was kind and we even got some brief glimpses of sunshine.

Formed 70 years ago, the Grange Natural History Society are revisiting places they went to in the early years. Back then they went to Borrowdale on a coach, but the records don’t say where. Rather than go there at peak holiday time they decided to visit us at the ‘other Borrowdale' which we were delighted about!

The pace is always sporadic with naturalists as they suddenly dive off into verges and fields looking for something that has caught the eye. This time it was rocks and geology, butterflies and moths and plants.

The meadows are absolutely stunning. If you were not convinced by how good they are for wildlife compared to monocultures of grass, you only have to stand and watch the activity above the meadows to be convinced: insects and birds buzzing and diving all over it.

The meadows are still mainly white and yellow but the purples are beginning to come through with self-heal and ajuga out, and knapweed about to burst into flower. The earliest cutting date possible is 21 July, so if you haven’t been yet, you have about three weeks left to go if you want to be sure to see these meadows in bloom.

By the way, if you can't make it to High Borrowdale physically, you can take a virtual tour of this wonderful place instead. Take a look here.  

Next week it is a full house at Mazonwath when we are welcoming a team from the Cumberland Building Society to learn about dry stone walling.