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.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Snowdrops 2012!

The snowdrops are officially back at Attingham! The first flowers appeared around two weeks ago and while we are still a few weeks off their full glory, more and more are flowering every day. Hopefully by the time our snowdrop walks begin, the grounds will be carpeted in white. Once again, some have been rescued from the ground where a new path is going in and snowdrops are available to buy in the shop so you can start your own patch at home in the garden.
January is flying by, with lots going on across the Estate. Our hedgelaying volunteers have been ploughing on, laying hedges in several places on tenant farms and spending another day at Wenlock Edge coppicing hazel and collecting hedge stakes and binders:

Choosing the right pieces to make stakes and binders...
Using the stakes to hold the hedge in place (pic by Terry Carr)
Hedge bound, trimmed and a rightfully proud team! (pic by Terry Carr)
Elsewhere in the park, work has started on the new playing field area behind the orchard. This will be a new space for visitors to enjoy where children can run around, play ball games, climb and crawl around some specially made structures; there will also be another catering unit and toilet facilities. It's early days yet so watch this space for the grand opening!
Head Warden Colin working on the new play area - more pics to follow over the coming months!
Last week we also went on an oak rescue mission! Around 20 self-seeded oaks were carefully dug up from along a headland to prevent them being damaged or lost when the adjacent hedge is trimmed, and to save them from nibbling rabbits. They are currently safe in our rabbit-proof tree nursery and will be used across the Estate as standard trees in hedge lines and as future parkland oaks. Oaks have a notoriously deep taproot and the recent weather meant the ground was wet and heavy, so well done to that team for all the hard work digging and lifting!
Home-grown oak - a future giant?

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


A frosty but undeniably beautiful start to the day today; there are some fantastic sunrises to be seen from Attingham as the light comes up from behind the Wrekin and Wenlock Edge:

This is just a quick post to share some pictures that I took today of some Redwings; this winter visitor from Scandinavia can be seen across the Estate right now, with a small flock of particularly friendly ones currently feasting on the holly berries just outside the Shop and Visitor Reception. Redwing are Britain's smallest thrush, and can be easily distinguished by their white stripe above the eye and red patch beneath the wing.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Venison for sale

While we have been selling venison at Attingham for many years now, this season has seen a major change - instead of sending off the meat to be butchered, we now have our own on-site premises to prepare the cuts. This means that Attingham venison travels less than a mile from the deer park to butchery to shop - you can't get more local than that! Stocks of burgers, sausages, diced meat, haunch and steaks have been flying off the shelves so far; throughout the culling period, we will be restocking the chiller in the Shop every Wednesday evening. Venison is a lean meat and is increasing in popularity as people become more health conscious and choose lower-fat dark meats, so why not come and try it?

This week has flown by so far! On Monday I spent some time at Willowdene training centre taking my manually-fed woodchipper test while the volunteers continued to put up a new stretch of fencing; on Tuesday the team were cutting logs and I had a group of staff and volunteers from RSPB Lake Vyrnwy come for a tour of the deer park and walled garden; and today we have been hedgelaying, chopping wood, collecting up leaves for the leaf mould bays in the orchard and interviewing prospective students for placements starting later this year. No wonder my boots keep ending up like this...

A wardens work is never done... without getting really messy!
Finally a lovely moment from Monday morning when I arrived at work and the sun was just beginning to emerge; Attingham was silent apart from the birds singing their morning song. The rooks at the top of the trees in Rookery Wood behind the Stables were particularly raucous and stayed still just long enough to snap a quick picture before flapping away in disgust at my disturbing the peace!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Happy New Year - and flooding

Well, after two lovely weeks off for Christmas its back to work for me! Today has seen a considerable rise in the River Severn (and the Tern), and at the moment the park is looking quite different. The meadow between the Tern and the deer park is completely underwater and the weir has disappeared . If you are coming for a walk this week, you might want to bring your wellies as the park is getting pretty muddy!
Looking downstream along the Tern from the bridge

Looking upstream with the deer park in the distance on the right
 The strong winds have also made their mark at Attingham, with several large branches having fallen across fences for the wardens to remove. It is also important that we check the perimeter fence of the deer park every day after a windy night to ensure that a tree has not fallen and pushed the fence down - we don't want to lose any deer. So far the trees have fared pretty well but we'll see what tomorrow brings and keep on walking the paths to check their safety.

One branch had fallen across the fence by the B4380 but a chainsaw made short work of clearing it off

Finally, Christmas is well and truly over for the year, signified by the removal of all the Christmas trees from the Mansion, Hub and Tea Room. Not wanting to waste them, we took them into the deer park where the deer will happily nibble on the needles.