Read about the life and work of the Attingham Wardens

Attingham Park is a National Trust property comprising of an 18th Century mansion set in a Repton landscape; the Park and wider Estate includes a deer park, walled garden, several miles of the rivers Severn and Tern, extensive farmland and woodlands.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Hedgelaying working holiday

This week we have had another working holiday. The group came to learn how to lay hedges but first we needed to gather our hedging stakes and binders, so day one saw us visiting Wenlock Edge to coppice hazel. We were treated to a beautiful day, cool and bright, and the views were lovely. The team worked hard, half of them up on the steep bank cutting the hazel and ash while the others processed the useable material into stakes and binders. By the end of the day, they had managed to cut 150 stakes and 150 binders - good work! Jess, Becky and I took along the storm kettle and made sure there was plenty of tea available to keep the workers going.
On Tuesday the group started laying hedges, working on a hedge at Betton Farm on the west side of the Estate. They were given the best possible start by spending the day with professional craftsman Karl Liebscher. Working in pairs, the team got stuck in and were soon pleaching their way through the hawthorn. Wednesday was a day off - after all, it is a holiday! - and gave the group a chance to explore the local area under their own steam.

Today Jess and I worked with the group, burning the unused brash and once more keeping that kettle going it - we needed it in the constant rain! Tomorrow is the groups last day, and they will be finishing off their sections of hedge before lunch at Attingham and a tour of the mansion. The hedge is looking good so far so thanks to the team for all their hard work!

Edited to add more photos!
Kettle on and drying off the gloves to keep the volunteers toasty warm!
A chilly start to Friday

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

New walk

Apologies for the lack of recent posts - I have been on holiday. After all that relaxing and wandering along the beaches of Donegal I'm back and raring to go.

Our latest new walk officially opens this weekend; Ron and his team of engagement volunteers will be offering free guided talks along the new section of path on Saturday and Sunday. The walk is an extension of the woodland walk, offering approximately 1 kilometer of new path (making the full walk from the stable block to Mile Walk to woodland walk and back again just over 4 kilometres - thanks to volunteer Rod for measuring it out for us!) This week has seen the finishng touches going on - Becky and Sarah have been grinding stumps, Mark has put in a new gate and Colin has been leading a volunteer team setting out the fingerposts to direct you around the route. Ron's interpretation boards mean that there will be plenty to learn about as you wander around, from the history of plantations to making charcoal. Come up to the woodland walks via the deer park or the Mile Walk to find the new route!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Indian Summer

Well, what a strange week! Just as the trees are turning into their autumn colours and we are crunching along through the fallen leaves, the sun decides to make one last go of summer and brings on a week of sweltering heat. It's been beautiful but oh-so-dry, and I must admit that working all day in full chainsaw PPE has not been so fun in these temperatures! I'm hoping we will be well into cooler times for the Over the Edge run later this month... check out Chris' blog for Wenlock Edge to find out more, and come along to cheer me and Attingham volunteer Geoff on as we struggle over the 18 mile course.

Our new (to us at least) kiln
 This last week has seen a variety of jobs done. A small team of volunteers accompanied me to Brockhampton, a Trust estate in Herefordshire, to collect a charcoal kiln so that we can start producing our own charcoal again. It may be a few weeks before we have time to get everything set up (and I need to re-read my charcoal book and brush up on technique!) but hopefully we will see a burn or two before the end of the year. Brockhampton is a beautiful place, I would thoroughly recommend a trip and the warden there, Nick, is a lovely chap who trained with me on Careership.

Yesterday I went to our small cricket-bat willow plantation to check on the progress of the young trees. The willow is used by one of the last companies in England to make cricket bats, and last year the crop was felled and replanted with around 100 saplings. Our job was to trim off any side shoots to prevent knots in the wood and ensure that the wood will be of good quality. It will be another 20-30 years before this lot are ready for felling so I will keep watch on them and hope to see them ready in time for my retirement!

Finally, a success story - over the last few years I have watched the swans that nest down by the deer park bridge try to raise their young, only for them to go missing (probably washed away down the weir). But this year, the whole family has made it and the cygnets are nearly as big as their parents: