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, 24 May 2015

Mighty Oaks and and some spring sightings

Well, Attingham did very well at the recent Mighty Oak awards at Calke Abbey. The Engagement and Conservation Team took a silver in the Programming category, and our three Warden nominees were all awarded as winners! The Midlands region has over ten thousand staff and volunteers and there were 64 nominees in the Unsung Hero category - the judges couldn't decide on just three winners and announced that all 64 deserved recognition for their dedication. A good night was had by all and we are very proud of our three Heroes.

Strimming the nettles on the back drive and admiring the buttercups!

This week we have been strimming and cleaning out some of the cattle grids on the front and back drives to keep everything tidy. On Wednesday a group from Barclays Bank volunteered with us and cut an incredible amount of logs up - well done team and thank you for your effort! Academy Ranger Faith also took her trailer test after minimal training and passed with flying colours - brilliant!

Red campion

Half Term is upon us and we expect to have a busy week. There is a lot to see and do around the Park - check out the incredible yellow sea of buttercups as you come up the front drive; the bluebells are going over but there are many other wildflowers still in bloom; you might be lucky enough to spot the ducklings on the River Tern that have recently hatched, or the cygnets below the weir; the deer are looking resplendent in their summer coats and the buck's antlers are already growing back with their covering of fuzzy velvet. Over the next few weeks the does will give birth, so we look forward to spotting the fawns once they are up on their feet. As you walk around the park you can hear the calls of young birds that have just hatched and see the fledglings on their tentative early flights - we have spotted four young ravens flying from one nest so this year has been a very successful one for them.

The bucks are busy growing back their antlers

Thursday, 14 May 2015

And the nominees are...

The wardens started their week with a tidy up of the trees and hedges along Smethcote lane, cutting back a few small branches that would soon be caught by passing traffic and letting a bit more light in to the young hedge plants beneath. In the next year or two we expect to be able to lay the hedges along this lane so we are looking forward to a good long stretch of Midland Bullock style hedgelaying! The brash was driven away with the tractor and trailer and burned and as we worked we straightened up the canes and spirals around any younger plants that we came across.

Jo with the log mountain!
Harper Adams students Jo and Rachel have been carrying out the annual bridge inspections, checking on all of the small footbridges around the estate. 

We also had a day of cutting logs in preparation for next week when a group from Barclays bank will be coming to volunteer with us. We cut a mountain of rounds for them to split and the wood will be used to fuel the log burners in reception, the bookshop, the shop and in Lady Berwick's tea room. 

Next Monday is an exciting day for the NT Midlands properties - in the evening Calke Abbey is hosting the first Mighty Oak awards to celebrate the hard work and successes of special and unique individuals and teams who work or volunteer for the Trust. Properties were invited to send in nominations to be short listed by the Midlands Leadership Team and Attingham is lucky to have had three of its nominees chosen to attend the awards - all from the wardens department! Colin, David and Phil will be up against each other in the category of 'Unsung Hero' so best of luck to all of them and fingers crossed that we have an Attingham winner - watch this space!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Reaching new heights...

Charley, Jo and Faith ready for a tour!
Today we had an interesting morning that kicked off with an open top bus ride! Starting tomorrow (Saturday 2nd May) Attingham will be one of several popular local destinations for a new sightseeing  tour. The bus will run from Shrewsbury to Attingham, Wroxeter, Ironbridge, Buildwas and Much Wenlock, giving visitors a chance to get off and explore the various destinations if they wish before catching the next bus. Tickets can be bought in advance or on the day, and you can even use your card to pay on the bus. We spent the morning trimming back a few minor branches on the trees to ensure that the bus will not catch them and had a ride to enjoy the beauty of Attingham from a new, higher perspective!

More information on the route, dates, ticket prices etc. can be found here:

This week we also took a trip to Carding Mill Valley and borrowed their tractor and water bowser so that we can give our newly planted trees a good drink - the fine weather of late is fantastic in many ways but we could really do with some rain to give the trees and hedgelines a boost! You may see us over the next few weeks trundling around with the large tank. 

Access to Tern Bridge is open again
We have also reopened the Tern Bridge picnic area so you can once again enjoy the short walk across the Deer Park down to the Bridge and take a seat while you enjoy the view of the Mansion. While I was mowing the area this week a dipper was flying up and down the water, keeping me company. This week has had several other firsts for the year - I saw the first damselfly (a large red) along the Mile Walk, a lapwing for the first time in several years at Berwick New House and Colin has seen swallows near Smethcote barns. 

I also heard a lovely story from two of our regular visitors who also pick litter up for us as they take their walk. Several days before they had been down near the deer park stone bridge and saw an otter with two young pups. As they watched the mother carried them one by one to navigate the weir - the first she carried out of the water and around across the path, then, evidently a bit nervous at being watched, she carried the second up on top of the eel pass before disappearing into the longer vegetation further upstream by the jetty and swimming away. What a brilliant sight to see!