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.

Monday, 30 April 2012

50 things to do before you're 11.75

Exploring a rock pool is on the list...

And I've climbed a few BIG hills...
And canoeing down a river - check. How many have YOU done?

Its a worrying trend that children are spending more and more time indoors instead of exploring the great outdoors. In reaction to this, the National Trust has created the '50 things to do before you're 11 3/4' campaign - a list of activities and adventures for children to try, all outside. If you have kids or know a family who would like to take part, check out the website at to find out more! I've just turned 28 and realised there are quite a few things on the list that I haven't done yet - time for me to try out abseiling, lighting a fire without matches and make a mud slide (which shouldn't be too difficult at the moment!)

Many of the things on the list can be done at Attingham and other nearby properties - how about a nature walk at night at Wenlock Edge, finding your way with a map and compass at Carding Mill Valley or building a den here at Attingham? Other adventures may involve a day trip away or be something that you could do on your next holiday - get the family together and make some plans! As you complete each challenge, you can fill in a special scrapbook and report back about your experience.

Get outside and have fun!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Swallows and cedars

Just a quick update to share that the first swallows have been spotted over Attingham, on Monday and Tuesday. I love watching them swoop along so effortlessly and its good to have them back now that the warmer weather is looming.

Also, the cedars that I mentioned a few posts back have seeded and some of the young plants have been carefully collected from the lawns by our gardening volunteers to be raised and prepared for planting. Success!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Deer park rides and a free weekend

This weekend we have been running deer park rides, taking members of the public to parts of the deer park that they never usually have access to and getting close to the deer. On each ride we have experienced staff or volunteers to talk to people about the deer herd and the life cycle of fallows, how we manage them, and other wildlife in the Park; there is usually time for a bit of history too. The weather has been a bit unpredictable of late but the rides have still been popular. The bucks are casting their antlers at the moment so some of them are looking a bit bare-headed and some have only one antler, so its an interesting time of year to see them. The antlers will start to grow back almost immediately and by the end of summer they will have a full set again. Sometimes we come across the antlers in the park - some are collected and given to local schools or used as props on our tours while others are left - the antlers are bone, and therefore a good source of calcium and other minerals. Various small mammals will gnaw at them, and even the deer themselves will try.

One antler cast, one to go!

Next weekend, the Trust is offering free access to some of its properties, including Attingham. To take part you will need a voucher - you can download one by following the links on or cut one out of the following newspapers, which will be printing them during the week commencing 16th April - the Daily Mail, Guardian, Sun, Metro, Times and Telegraph. The offer is for a group of up to four people (maximum two adults) per voucher, visiting on either the 21st or 22nd April (some properties are only open on one of the days so check before you go - Attingham is open all weekend!). A good chance to explore somewhere new or introduce some family or friends to a day out at a Trust property?

Finally, did you know that Attingham has its own weather station? It is currently out of the public areas but there are plans to move it into the new play area later in the year. You can check out the latest readings by clicking this link: Attingham weather station

It may be raining, but how can you not love jumping in a heart-shaped puddle?!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Green conference

One of the entrances to CAT
Last week I attended the NT's first 'Fit for the Future' conference, a chance to meet staff from properties across the UK and hear how they are incorporating 'green' technologies and energy saving working practices in their properties. The conference was held at the Centre of Alternative Technologies (CAT) in Machynlleth and was made up of three days of talks, films, site visits and guest speakers. The Welsh properties have made giant steps in taking the lead on building hydro, solar, and wind power and biomass boilers into their sites. It was fantastic to see what has been done so far and to listen to many of the speakers who were so passionate about their work, and inspiring - we have been looking at alternative technologies at Attingham and hope to be installing a biomass boiler to provide all our heating in the near future. One scary fact has stuck in my mind - last year we (meaning humans across the world) burned one million years worth of biologically sequestered carbon. It's hard to get your head around that, but it does make it starkly obvious that we all need to do something about it, and the Trust wants to be a leading figure in making change. Attingham may not have the capability for hydro or wind power but we will definitely be looking at what else we can do to save energy and provide ourselves with a more sustainable future.
Snow, hail, rain and wind - apparently a visit to the same site one week
before had seen people in shorts and tshirts! Ahh Wales...

Soaking up the sun...
Back at Attingham I was working the Easter weekend (except for Sunday when a virus kept me in bed - thanks to Jess for covering!) and had mixed feelings towards the rain - such a shame for the visitors and all the staff and volunteers who put so much effort into making trails and games for people to enjoy, but fantastic for the ponds, newly planted shrubs and vegetation in general. We desperately need the rain at this time of year but its not all bad news - who doesn't love jumping in puddles?! If anyone put off a visit to Attingham due to the weather, don't forget there are deer park rides on the 11th, 14th and 15th April.

The bluebells are beginning to come out in the park now, although it will be a few weeks before they are out in their full glory. Sarah found some pink and white ones on the wider estate today - very pretty but unfortunately also a hybridisation of our native and Spanish bluebells. We also spotted some badger prints in the soft clay earth near where we were fencing, showing where they had come to some deep puddles to drink. And then the sun came out and I had a happy lunchtime taking lots of pictures of blossom!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

New plantations

We are planting the last of our trees now and this has included a few new plantations on Uckington Farm - small, previously unused bits of ground that, once planted up, will provide new habitats for birds, bats and all kinds of insects. The largest piece of ground was mown, then last week a team of volunteers helped Colin and I to clear the remaining brambles along the fences, clear the litter that had been thrown into the vegetation from the road (a major bugbear of mine - I love to shove it back through their letter boxes!) and plant up new hedges and trees. We planted a good mix - home-grown oaks, maple, hawthorn, ash, guelder rose, norway spruce and scots pine. We gave each tree a good watering to help it settle in - it was a scorching hot day for March! Soon we will put a good layer of mulch around each plant too. Everyone worked extremely hard that day, digging in very stony soils, so thank you to everyone involved!
Arriving on site armed with brashing hooks, spades and a lot of trees...
Several hundred trees later!
Back in the Park, thousands of seeds from the cedars of lebanon have been blown across the lawn leading down to the river - we will wait and see if we get any seedlings and transplant them to the nursery to grow on as replacement trees. Our cedars are unfortunately past their prime and many of them have rot inside, which is why they are fenced off with railings to prevent anyone from walking beneath.
The future cedars of Attingham Park?
And finally, an elusive Attingham heron update! I've seen it many times over the last year but never with my camera to hand; this time I had just put the camera away when he flapped up across the the river from where I was standing. Typical! I frantically scrambled for the on-switch while he circled over me, and just managed to capture him swooping off into the distance. One day I will get that close up picture...

Easter's a-coming

Hmm. I wrote this post out before going home for a wedding and now I look back on it, it failed to publish! So apologies for the gap. Here it is a week late...

The sun is shining, there are daffodils everywhere, it's warm, there is frogspawn in the paddock and deer park ponds, the bluebells are nearly out, I mowed the front lawns last week - yep, there's no denying it. Spring is well and truly here.

Our hedgelaying team have finished for the year as the birds are beginning to build nests and the buds are bursting into leaf; last Wednesday we completed two hedges on Uckington and Berwick New House farms with final bits of binding and tidying up. The next week or so will see us planting our final hedge plants and then we move into the new seasons work. The next few weeks will also see us busy preparing for the Easter holidays - if the weather is anything like todays then we will have thousands of visitors sharing the property with us! The wardens are running deer park rides on the 4th, 11th, 14th and 15th April - we will be taking visitors out into the deer park on our tractor-driven trailer and giving talks on the herd and how we look after them. Click on this link to the Attingham Flickr site to see a gorgeous picture that Ben took recently of one of the bucks - Attingham Flickr There will also be some holiday trails for the children (including the ever-popular Cadbury Easter Egg trail!) and Trusty Tuesday Club on the 3rd April - in fact, here is a link to all the events coming up over the next few months - Upcoming events!

Crocuses on the bank near the tearoom