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, 25 November 2012


This week we put the first fresh venison of the season into the shop. Our butcher prepares steaks, loin, haunch, diced, burgers and sausages in our on-site butchery, and some of the qualified staff and volunteers help with the packaging and labelling. Volunteer David was a huge help this week, spending several days weighing up and packing venison for us, thanks again David!
The Countryside, Parks and Gardens Manager for North Shropshire (or Bob as we like to call him) came into the office the other day with  beautiful little find - an abandoned nest found in a utilities metre box on the side of one of the estate cottages. With a bit of help from a book I've identified the eggs as those of blue tits - if anyone knows differently then please let me know. The eggs are tiny, about 1cm long and pale with speckles (just like a Cadbury mini egg). It's a shame the eggs failed to hatch this year but what a great find for our engagement wardens to use and show people:

Monday, 19 November 2012

Winter arrives

Winter has well and truly arrived - today we spotted a group of redwings flying over us. Last year I shared some pictures on here that I took of redwings in the holly bushes outside Visitor Reception so we will have to see if they come back again. The hollies have a good show of berries already so fingers crossed! Redwings are a migrant species, arriving from Scandinavia in October and November and leaving again in March. They are a small thrush with a creamy pale stripe above the eye and dusky red patch under the wing (hence the name):

Another sign that winter is here is preparations for Frost Fair have begun. The huge marquees are going up over the next few days and the wardens are gathering staff and volunteers to debrief the Car Parking Plan. With nearly 12,000 visitors last year it is essential that we have a large team of people controlling the thousands of cars that will be coming on to site. We are also wishing hard for a cold snap! Rain and wet ground are not friends with car tyres...

Finally, the deer cull has started as of last weekend, so if you are coming to Attingham for a walk on Saturday morning please remember the deer park is closed until mid-morning when the stalker finishes and lets the duty warden know that it is safe to reopen. This means that we will have venison for sale in the shop again by the weekend. We are also feeding the deer in earnest to make sure that they enter the winter in the best possible condition, and you can watch the deer being fed at 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays and during the school holidays. We have changed the feeding area from previous years now that the new WWII walk is open, so to watch us just walk to the top of the deer park from the main gate and stand along the first 50 metres or so of the new walk. Rumour has it that there will be elves feeding the deer closer to Christmas...
Craig throws out fodder beet for the deer to munch on

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Willows and walks

Well, I'm finally back at work after a nasty cold and catching up with the weeks work. On Monday, the volunteers went coppicing again at Wenlock Edge to get stakes and binders which they then used on the hedge they are laying at Berwick New House farm. The hedge is coming along nicely now, so soon we will move on to the next one at Brompton.

While half the team laid more hedge today, the rest of us went down to the bridges near the deer park and pollarded some of the willows. Some of the smaller cuttings will be used to make a willow arch in the play area; larger timber will be dried for a few years before being used in the log burners. The rest of the cut wood was burned on site to keep the area tidy and prevent it from being washed down the river in the next flood. There is still plenty of work to do in that area so we will have another day there soon.

The Park is still full of beautiful autumn colours and we are getting some really positive feedback about the new walk. We are now feeding the deer every Saturday and Sunday at 2pm and visitors can watch the herd having lunch by standing at the top of the deer park where the new walk splits away to the right from the older deer park walk near the Repton Oak. The deer are in great condition heading into the winter, so there will be some quality venison coming to the shop over the next few weeks - the first cull of the season is this weekend. Keep an eye on the chiller in the shop next time you pass through.

While out walking Max a few days ago along the deer park walk I came across this impressive colony of bracket fungus - there is a stump under there somewhere!