Land Manager's Diary: Read it here>

It has been another exciting week looking after the Friends of the Lake District land portfolio. On Tuesday our staff and trustees took a tour of three of our woodland properties. With new trustees and staff it is always good to have everyone out on site to see some of the work we do on the ground, and how we are putting our policies into practice to help not only the landscape, but also nature, climate and people. It is also good to hear the views of everyone and gather new ideas for things we may do on our land. We began at Sweden Wood in Ambleside, moved down to Middle Bleansley near Broughton in Furness and then came home via Hows Wood in Eskdale, the last two representing our newest and our oldest property respectively.

On Wednesday, six volunteers joined us to venture into what felt like the midgey rain forest of south America, otherwise known as Sweden Wood in Ambleside. This is always a fascinating property as it is criss-crossed by Victorian built ha ha walls and stone lined drainage ditches. It is one of only a couple of our properties where the cultural heritage of the site is as important as the natural heritage, and we of course look after both these aspects of the landscape. One of our tasks was to clear some of the tree and bramble growth that was starting to invade the walls.

It felt like a cross between Time Team or Through the Keyhole meets the Lost Garden of Heligan. The more we ventured into the wood which really did feel like rainforest with a whole variety of ferns and growth, the more bits of wall we found and even a watering well.

Harry took on the task of fixing a section of the stone lined drainage ditch that had breached and was leaking water down the banking.

The badgers are obviously active at the moment with freshly dug earth being moved around and tracks criss-crossing the wood.

The swallows had plenty to eat with all the midges and flies that we were disturbing too and the blackcaps and warblers gave us some lovely songs to listen to! 

As we found plants you would not normally expect to have in a wood such as fushias and aconitum, normally found in a herbaceous flower bed, we pondered if the previous owner who gifted us the wood had introduced them, or if they are remnants of the Victorian landscaped garden that the archaeologists think this site represents.  

It was a shame that the butler who we were sure must have brought refreshments to the Victorian ladies had not left us some refreshing cold drinks at the old summer house…. 

Another of our tasks was to try and keep clear a path we began to put in around the wood earlier in the year and to add some steps in to a sloping section.

For all our land, it is important to us to allow open and free public access. We want people to be able to enjoy and appreciate our land, but also have the added benefits that being outdoors gives for mental health and well-being, and to be able to connect with nature and the landscape. The day before we had had a debate with staff and trustees about whether we felt it was safe to open this site to public access with so many steep drops off the terrace walls and so much vegetation hiding them. The majority felt that if we can safely open the site with the path around the wood, then we should do so, alongside some safety warnings. So for now we are trialling how practical it is to get a path open. It would be good to hear back from the wider public and our members how important you feel opening all our sites to public access is – please do let us know what you think. Email [email protected]

Our next workparty is on Tuesday 14th at High Borrowdale where we will be checking on the new hedge we planted a few months back. We can see how the hay meadow is coming on and will report back on when the best time to visit maybe for those of you that like a trip down to look at the hay meadow flowers. Come along and join us by booking your place here>