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.

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Every Wednesday we have a team of volunteer hedgelayers in at Attingham. Hedgelaying is a tradition dating back for hundreds of years and we have a programme of management for the hedgerows on the estate from planting to maintaining. Hedgerows are vital habitats for wildlife, providing homes and food for a wide variety of insects, small mammals and birds. They also provide shelter for stock as well as a strong barrier between fields.

Over the last few weeks the team have been working on a hedge at Betton Farm and volunteer Terry took the following pictures to show how its coming along:

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

There be fungus in the forest...

Wherever I went today, I found fungus - on living trees, dead wood, woodland floor and in grassy fields. I will admit straight away that I am terrible at identification (aside from a few easy ones like Fly Agaric) but one day I hope to get myself on a proper identification course. I love eating mushrooms but I don't want to chance eating the wrong ones! We do have a resident expert, Ron Iremonger, who leads the Fungi Foray events here at Attingham but unfortunately he was not with me today to identify what I found. I've spent the last half hour scouring my book to try to name some but I still cannot be confident I have the right ones! So here are some pictures instead:
Ok, this one I do know - Auricularia auricula-judae or 'Jew's Ear Fungus'. Apparently, the name comes from the story that Judas Iscariot hung himself from an elder tree, and this type of fungi is often found growing on elder trees.

Today a group of us were clearing elder and alder (try saying that ten times quickly!) from the edge of a large (currently dry) pond. Over the weekend, the pond will be dug out and years of mud and deposits removed. Hopefully this winter the water levels will return to normal and the pond refill to become a good habitat for insects, amphibians and other fauna. The local ducks usually enjoy this pond so the dry summer has been a big disappointment to them!

It was a long day and the sun was setting by the time we were finished but looking out across the deer park, there are worse ways to end a day.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


You know its been a good few days at work when you get home aching and proceed to sit on the sofa all night writing your blog, watching films and expending as little energy as possible!

Monday saw Becky and I working in the woods all day with contractor Seamus Hill, felling oak and sycamore and cutting the trees to lengths between 10 ane 14 feet. The timber was to add to our pile of other oak and pine stacked up ready for milling. It was a long day to reach our required amount but we made it, and today Nathan Home joined us with his mobile sawmill to cut the wood into planks, rails and posts. It's tough work, lifting and carrying the finished product from the saw to the trailer, then unloading and stacking the timber at the other end, but so satisfying to see the full process from felling trees to the posts and rails that we will build with in the future. The timber will now be left to dry out and season.

Loading the saw mill
I'll be moving and stacking this lot tomorrow
Buster keeps a watchful eye on us from his favourite spot... strange dog!
The day went really well with two exceptions - finding nails in two of the trees which blunts the sawblade, a costly error! The nails must have been hammered into the wood a long time ago, judging by their position, and the tree simply grew around them, leaving no trace of the damage. A good example of why you must never, ever put nails in trees!

Tomorrow our volunteers and students will split up into several groups, some hedgelaying, some fencing and some helping me to move the rest of the freshly cut timber to the barn.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Mad Jack's 5 2011

What a brilliant day! Well done to everyone that took part, hope you all enjoyed it. I haven't go the exact number of runners yet but there were over 350 entrees. Sunny, blue skies, crisp autumn air - perfect running conditions and plenty of spectators too.

There might be a few familiar faces amongst this lot - thanks to my partner Adam Beresford-Browne for taking the photos:

They're off!

Fresh as a daisy at the start...

Property Manager Mark Agnew running for Team Attingham!

Apologies to the chap that I passed, hope I didn't cover you in too much mud!
Carnage in the 'water feature'!

Some more of 'Team Attingham', muddy and already looking forward to next year

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Preparing for Mad Jack's 5

This Sunday Attingham is once again hosting Mad Jack's 5, a five mile race around the grounds (including a dash through the pond near the finish line). On Tuesday we had a group from Stafford College join us to help build a fence/handrail to support the runners as they navigate the slippery pond edge and they did a fantastic job. Getting the posts 3' into the solid clay was no mean feat! The rest of the frame was bolted together so that we can take down the rails and supports and reuse them next year. Tomorrow I will be helping to put out the route markers and check that the cattle are fenced in away from the runners, then it's home to rest up until race time - 11am Sunday. Spectators and more runners are welcome to join in!

Tuesday also turned out to be an incredibly warm day and there were actually damselflies laying eggs around the edges of the pond that we were working on - on November 1st! I tried to get pictures but their darting movements came out blurry - here is the best shot - you can just about make out the mating pair and the ripples are where they drop down to lay the eggs:

Now that we are into November, the rut has come to an end. We have started feeding the deer on roots and hay, just a small amount at first, and will continue to do so through to next April. The adult deer seem to remember the routine and soon came over to investigate our vehicle and chow down on the fodder beet that we spread about:

Finally, this week see's the warden department saying farewell to Richard Newman, who joined the team 10 months ago on a temporary contract. Rich has found a new, permanent job in the western fells in the Lake District, managing his own team, and on top of this will be moving north with his soon-to-be family - wife Becca is expecting their first child in December. Sad news for us, a fantastic new adventure for them - so good luck Richard, from all the team and volunteers at Attingham!