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.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Finishing the old, starting the new

With the equinox behind us and the clocks changing this weekend, spring is officially here. The bright sunshine, daffodils everywhere and lambs in the fields are certainly making me think of the coming warmth and the jobs that come with the seasons. Before we can jump in to all the new projects, there are still some last winter jobs to complete but we are well on our way.

This week has seen the wardens here, there and everywhere! On Monday the team went to Betton Farm where a very large, old horse chestnut had lost its fight against the gales and lost its top as well as a couple of major limbs. It had just caught a fence with the tips of its branches to we cleared the brash and repaired the fence so that our tenant farmer can put his cattle out into the field to enjoy the new grass. It was a gorgeous bright day and our work was carried out to the sound of skylarks. We spotted a stoat as we left site but it was far too quick to me to get a picture, disappearing into the woods before I could even reach for the camera.

Fence fixed and brash removed

On Tuesday we split forces with one team on site repairing other fences and clearing timber while a few of us went to Lee Brockhurst to deal with some leaning and hung up trees. On Wednesday, we had a little celebration in the afternoon to mark the achievement of Senior Park and Estate Warden Colin Morris - 30 years of working for the Trust at Attingham!

On Thursday I went with Colin to Dunham Massey for a meeting of the Trusts deer managers. I was able to see their fallow deer herd which has until recently contained all four colour variations - the common and menil that we have here, plus some white and black (which are a very dark brown rather than true black). It was interesting to hear about how different properties manage their deer, with some quite different feeding and culling programmes. There's always something new to learn with the National Trust!  

Friday, 7 March 2014

Signs of spring

The snowdrops are past their best now, though they are still an impressive sight blanketing the woodland floor. With the warmer weather the daffodils and crocuses have come out all around the mansion and riverside, and as you walk down to the back of the mansion there are primroses and fritillaries on the wildflower bank to your left.
Spring at last!
Student Henry has been working on a new natural play area with our Sports Co-ordinator Lucy and as you walk from the Bothy towards the suspension bridge and deer park you will see some of their work with log bridges across the ditch and stepping stones in the stream. There is still a bit of work to do on the bridges but the stones are firmly in place and being enjoyed by our younger visitors (and my dog!) already:

Max enjoys the stepping stones - and the off-lead zone

Speaking of dogs, there is an updated dog policy available from Visitor Reception which outlines the responsibilities of dog walkers around the park, explains where the dog bins are (including a new one) and maps out where dogs must be on short leads or are allowed off lead. We have noticed that some visitors are not putting their dogs on leads where they should, including in the deer park, and recently a child was bitten by a loose dog that should have been on a short lead. I am asking my fellow dog owners to please adhere to the rules to keep everyone safe and comfortable. If you do spot someone ignoring the signs then please inform our staff, with a description if possible, so that we can have a word - we don't want the few to spoil it for the many. Attingham is such a brilliant place to bring your dog for a walk and to socialise with others, we want to keep it that way!

With spring on its way we are finishing off our winter jobs of hedgelaying and planting and are on schedule to complete them in the next few weeks. We have planted apple and damson trees to form a small orchard on a piece of ground at Wheathill farm, and will finish the orchard at Duncote next week, along with some maintenance work with replacing tree guards and mulching. We are continuing to tidy up from the storm by moving the fallen trees and brash as the ground is drying up and we can get the tractors in without creating too much mess. The deer are still being fed but not as often, as the trees are starting to bud and the grass is growing. The final cull is taking place this Saturday so if you would like some venison next week may be your last chance! There may be a final selective cull in a few weeks but after that, the season ends and we will not cull again until the end of the year.

Some of the fruit trees we have been planting