A blog by third year Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Management student Molly Conway, who is working with us this year as our ‘Property Engagement Officer’.

As November draws near, I come to the end of my first month as ‘Property Engagement Officer’ with Friends of the Lake District.

I’m a third year Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Management student at Harper Adams University, in Shropshire. As part of my university education I undertake a year of working in my chosen field on placement; my search leading me to Friends of the Lake District.

I’m from Kendal originally and so am very passionate about the area and the beautiful Lake District and Cumbrian landscapes. Growing up in such an outstanding place and my love of wildlife certainly influenced my chosen career path and now brings me back to my roots and to Friends of the Lake District. 

Pictured: Yours truly! Visiting one of Friends of the Lake District's properties

Over the course of the year, I will be working on an exciting project which aims to encourage the public to come and engage and explore some of the fantastic areas of land owned by Friends of the Lake District. My first two weeks were spent thinking about ways to promote the areas which range from new property leaflets to geocaches and video footage viewed via mobile devices on scenic walks around some of the properties. However… I don’t want to give too much away just yet! 

In my first month I’ve been busy familiarising myself with areas of fell, common land and woodland owned by Friends of the Lake District with much of my time spent delving into its extensive archives dating back to the charities creation in 1934. 

Following research, we have decided to focus our efforts on developing new materials and ideas for visitor information and guides for the ‘Helm’ near Kendal; the eastern side is owned by Friends of the Lake District. It’s the nearest property to its office in Oxenholme and one that I already know well. 

Pictured: Fell Pony and cattle grazing on the Helm near Kendal

Before beginning in earnest, it seemed sensible to pay the Helm a visit. I’ve visited it many times before but it was good to speak to Andrew (Policy Officer with Friends of the Lake District) and Jean (amazing volunteer!) who know the small hill inside out. They explained the multitude of management activities carried out by Friends of the Lake District on the land such as tree planting, gorse management and conservation. 

I’ve spent a lot of time in a lecture theatre learning about landscape management methods and how valuable they are to conserve and protect a landscape, but it is great to see these methods in action. The value of careful management is demonstrated perfectly with the efforts of the charity and its brilliant volunteers creating a diverse and well maintained landscape which encourages wildlife and visitors alike. 

Pictured: Volunteers finish repairs to a section of dry stone wall on the Helm

I’m writing a visitor leaflet for the Helm and also researching another piece of land owned by the charity; Mike’s Wood near Staveley.

I’ve got a lot to be working on at the moment and I’m very excited about the future of this fantastic project! I’ll be updating my blog over the course of my year here and will hopefully be able to give you some insight into the work that the charity does in managing its land for the benefit of visitors, wildlife and the landscape. And…maybe a sneak preview of some of the materials that I’ll be helping to produce too!  

Read all of Molly's monthly updates on her Blog page...