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, 27 October 2014

Wardens return

We're still here! The lack of blog is testament to just how busy we have been over the last few months so my apologies, here is an update on some of the things we have been doing!

An old Beech that has been monitored for years and
is reaching the end of its life with increasing decay
in the base and branches
Autumn is a good time to start the regular tree safety inspections so the trained staff have been taking every moment that they can to get out and inspect the trees. The park and estate are divided up into risk zones according to their frequency of use by numbers of people, and trees within those zones are individually looked at to monitor health, form, any signs of disease, damage or decay. The history of our trees is built up over time, and knowlege of a trees behaviour is essential in this role. The type of tree, age, form, past history and location of the tree will help to determine its future. We keep as many as possible of our trees, even if they are dying back, as deadwood is such a valuable habitat (and our deadwood invertebrates are the reason that we have a SSSI designation!) - but the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff must come first so if a tree is becoming dangerous in a highly populated area then action must be taken. Tree work has already begun and our regular tree surgeon team will be seen working around the Mile Walk over the next few weeks.

Harvest Fair in September was a huge success with the wardens creating an estate display of grains, vegetables, farm machinery and stock. One of our farmers kindly donated a huge box of maris piper potatoes which we bagged up and gave away to visitors - nearly 800 bags went over the two days! Colin's vintage tractor was the star of the day with children and adults queueing up to sit on it and have their pictures taken. Estate timber products were also on display, including the two wheelbarrows pictured - the barrow on the left is a traditional wooden barrow (with a modern wheel) made of oak and elm with ash handles - Don, one of our skilled volunteers, made an exact replica using estate wood. The older barrows age is not known, but is estimated at nearly 100 years and still perfectly useable (if a little heavy compared to modern day wheelbarrows!)

The Walks with the Wardens program has continued to be popular with Beat the Bounds around the front park and deer park, the Rangers Lunchbox, Rivers and Romans on our boundary with Wroxeter, the Ancient Tree walk with expert volunteer Andy Gordon, the Saxon walk and Rut walks. There will be more walks next year so if you fancy coming along, check out the events leaflet when it comes out next year. Most walks are free and are lead by either staff or volunteers at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon (the exception are the Rut walks, which are a small fee for a two hour walk from 5-7pm, getting close to the deer and learning all about this special time of year).

Hedgelaying has begun with the team working at Berwick New House farm and coppicing stakes from some of our woodland . We have been preparing and installing some posts for some new running routes through the deer park, which will be ready very soon. A fence has been put in around the paddock pond to keep cattle out and protect the surrounding vegetation from getting nibbled. The deer larder has had a deep clean to prepare it for the coming cull season and our students have been trained in food handling, ready to help make venision sausages. We had around 40 volunteers from Barclays Bank over two days helping us to chop firewood and move timber, helping us prepare for the coming winter and the winter beyond that!

Finally, we also welcomed Faith into the team as our new Academy Ranger. Faith has moved to Shropshire from her previous property Felbrigg and is settling in well, already having spent two weeks at Reaseheath College as part of her training. She will be with us for 2.5 years so will soon be a familiar face. She and I have been working on a special project this month, to be revealed soon...