Great British Walks – 100 routes to explore

IMG_31342This September the National Trust launches the Great British Walks book featuring 100 routes across iconic landscapes, through ancient woodland and along breathtaking coastline.

The book, which accompanies the Great British Walk 2014, will be available to buy from 25 September from National Trust shops as well as online at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/shop.

National Trust research has revealed that 84% of people find that the kaleidoscope of natural colours experienced on an autumn walk make them feel happier, healthier and calmer at a time when more than 40% admit to feeling down as the nights draw in. Running through the woods and along the river, the route at Hardcastle Crags is just one of many walks from the book which is perfect for exploring a rainbow of autumn colours.

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Big Butterfly Count – the recovery of the Small Tortoiseshell 

As Butterfly Conservation releases its results from the Big Butterfly Count, National Trust’s Matthew Oates, looks at some of the highlights. 

It was great to learn from Butterfly Conservation’s speedy analysis of the 2014 Big Butterfly Count data that the Small Tortoiseshell is continuing to recover. It is the quintessential garden butterfly, one of the nation’s favourites – but we took it for granted until it inexplicably started to nose-dive during the early noughties.

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The beauty of autumn colour

Gwen Potter is the National Trust ranger for Ceredigion in Wales. Looking after coast and countryside, Gwen sees autumn colour across a range of landscapes; here she describes why autumn is her favourite time of year for exploring the landscape.

Autumn for me bursts with colour and life. It’s the best time of year to see and feel nature and wildlife at its most spectacular, but it’s also a time of change and reflection.

Ashridge Estate, credit National Trust Images, Michael CaldwellWalking during the autumn is like nothing else. Wood smoke mixes with the leaves to create that beautiful, familiar smell. It’s cooler than summer, but not cold. You could get a misty morning with those damp smells or a clear, crisp day when everything is brighter.

In the hills and heaths, the heather is bright purple. The paths are full of blackberries, damsons and sloes.

In the woods, the trees start to turn every shade of red and yellow imaginable. Leaves can be caught as they fall (number 33 on 50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾!) and every leaf tells a story – the caterpillar munching it, the micro-moth burrowing in it, the lichen on the stalk or shrivelled gall from a solitary wasp.

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Autumn colour is a natural tonic to beating the winter blues

New research from the National Trust has found that the kaleidoscope of natural colours experienced on an autumn walk makes people feel happier, healthier and calmer [1] at a time when more than 40% admit to feeling down as the nights draw in.

The conservation charity released the findings as part of its Great British Walk 2014, Carding Mill Valley, Blue Hills. Autumn walk. National Trust.which launched this week with an invitation to enjoy a rainbow of walks. Shades of blue found on walks by water or when the landscape is coloured by the evening’s darkening sky were found to help soothe away stress (36%), while the greens of hilltops and pine woodlands leave people feeling more connected with the natural world (52%).

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Isle of Wight bee-eaters rewrite the record books

Bee-eaters nesting on the Isle of Wight have raised eight chicks – the most successful breeding attempt by these birds, normally found in the Mediterranean, on record in the UK.

Three chicks have now fledged from one nest, on National Trust land, and another five chicks have fledged from a second nest.

Bee eater

Bee-eaters on the Isle of Wight. Credit Danny Vokins.

An adult bee-eater was first spotted at Wydcombe on 15 July by National Trust dragonfly survey volunteer Dave Dana. And chicks were first sighted a month later on the 15 August. There were originally thought to be nine chicks but one has not survived.

Dave Dana, a National Trust Volunteer on the Isle of Wight, said: “I’d just come from counting golden-ringed dragonflies at a stream and I thought ‘that bird looks a bit different!’

“Its flight path seemed almost triangular. I didn’t really appreciate the bird until I got home and looked at the photos. I’d always wanted to see a bee-eater in this country but I never thought it would turn out to be a major wildlife event.”

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Four bee-eater chicks take to the air

Four bee-eater chicks have fledged on National Trust land on the Isle of Wight thanks to aTwo juvenile bee-eaters, credit Andy Butler joint protection operation by the National Trust, the RSPB and Isle of Wight naturalists. It is the first time the birds, who usually nest in southern Europe, have bred successfully in the UK for 12 years.

Three of the chicks fledged last week and the fourth has tried out its wings in the last couple of days. If these survive, this will be the most successful ever bee-eater breeding attempt in the UK. The last successful attempt, which resulted in two chicks, was in county Durham in 2002, the first for 50 years.

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Boscastle Reflections Ten Years On

Ian Kemp, General Manager for North Cornwall, reflects on the Boscastle flash floods which devastated the village a decade ago.

Ten years ago my job took me to Boscastle only once every ten days or so. August 16th 2004 just happened to be one of those days.

The day after the flash floods revealed the extent of the devastation caused to Boscastle. Credit National Trust.

I had gone to the village for what should have been a routine meeting with our shop staff.  By mid-afternoon the river had swollen to the size of the Thames at Westminster and the shop staff and I found ourselves scrambling up steep valley sides to safety under the watchful gaze of an RAF helicopter rescue crew.

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