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 27 September 2011

New path

We have started work on another new path that will be officially opened next month. The path will allow visitors to walk through a part of the woodland at the top of the Deer Park that has previously not been part of the open site. We spent a day clearing saplings and stumps to create a winding way through the trees and will next be focusing on signposting the walk to ensure that everyone knows exactly where they are going. On the opening day of the new walk we plan to be offering guided tours so I'm looking forward to introducing it.

Today we have been collecting and stacking timber for processing into logs and when we arrived at our timber yard we found a stowaway amongst the boxes of wood, soaking up the sun:
Log orders have started to come in quite frequently now, it must be the nights drawing in and cooler mornings. We sell logs in loads of approximately 1 metre cubed, in softwood or hardwood. We have been cutting logs all year so we are well prepared for the coming winter!

Finally, just because he makes quite an impressive sight, meet the Aberdeen Angus bull that is out with the longhorn herd on the front fields at the moment. Despite his size he appears to be pretty easy going, barely registering me as I requested a photo!

Monday 26 September 2011

Welcome to the new recruits

The gardeners and wardens office is full to the brim of late as we welcome four new recruits - Becky, Sarah and Cari from Harper Adams University and Jess, our new careership warden. The Harpers are volunteering with us as part of their course and we are lucky enough to have Becky and Sarah for a year and Cari for 6 months (before she jets off to New Zealand to complete her work experience there). Jess will be with us for two and a half years as she starts her career in the countryside by completing the National Trust's own training scheme, attending college to support her hands-on learning. This week they are joining Richard, one of the wardens, and some other volunteers on a hedgelaying course with expert local hedgelayer, Karl Liebcher.

Me, Cari, Jess, Becky and Sarah - the ladywardens are starting to outnumber the gents!

Thursday 15 September 2011

Happy Birthday Bob!

A quick update to alert everyone to the important news that it is Bob's 50th birthday today! We managed to surprise him with a quick mid-morning tea, cake and balloon party before continuing with preparations for the Food Fair that is starting tomorrow. There will be dozens of stalls offering yummy treats from cakes and Fuffle (you will have to come and try it to find out what it is!) to organic veg, curries, breads and beers.

My saw needed a good sharpening
after hitting this!

This week we have been processing more timber into logs, including felling some dead elms to make room for a new fenceline. One of these elms caught me out as I was turning it out - a piece of wire cunningly disguising itself as a twig took some chunks out of my chainsaw. The wire must have been part of a fence several decades ago that was up close against the tree and when there was no stretch left in the fence, the tree simply grew around it. It always fascinates me how determined trees can be when it comes to growing over, around or through obstacles - nothing can stop nature going where she wants to go!

Otter prints

While on site in Ismore meadow we also checked on our newest pond to see how the vegetation is seeding in around it, and were pleased to find otter prints in the silty soil around the edge. The pond is fed by a small brook and the overflow from the pond runs into the Severn; having otters on site is a very positive sign as it means the water quality is good. We also have otters along our stretch of the river Tern - there are certain spots where you can frequently find fresh spraints (droppings) and the remains of meals. I took a picture of some spraint (below) a few months ago on the edge of the deer park and the presence of many fish scales shows that fish were on the menu that week:

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Hungry sawflies

The sawfly larvae (left) munch off the leaf
leaving the stems

If you go for a walk in the deer park at the moment, you may notice something a little strange about the bracken in the north end. A large patch of it has turned brown and on closer inspection, you will see that the leaf part has been eaten away. The culprits are a species of sawfly who are slowly but surely eating their way though the bracken. This isn't a partiular worry but it is a point of interest as I've never seen anything that enjoys eating this plant quite so much!

WWII blast shelter
The volunteer team has been busy over the last few weeks finishing off the fencing project on Tern Meadow and we have now moved on to the other side of the river and Ismore Meadow. There is an old hedgeline that the team have begun to tidy up and trim back so that the new fence can go in front, and Colin and I have been felling some dead elms to prevent them from falling on to the fence in the future. The woodland contains more WWII structures, including two blast shelters that we will be clearing out so that visitors on our new walk can see them. The brickwork is in remarkably good condition considering these shelters were built over 60 years ago. Each trench has a small room at one end where several people would have been able to hide if necessary, but the trenches themselves would have protected people from debris if a bomb had been dropped nearby.

We also have a working holiday in this week. They are putting up a new fence in the deer park that will make up a section of a new walk that will open next year. With all this fencing, new paths and the upcoming hedgelaying, autumn's going to be busy!