Taking weeding to the extreme!

Having a head for heights is a pre-requisite for the four strong team of gardeners at St Michael’s Mount, located just off the south Cornwall coast.

As part of the work to conserve the 12th Century castle, the granite stone walls need weeding three times each year to ensure the walls are constantly kept clear.

St Michael's Mount where gardeners go to 'extreme' lengths to keep the walls weed free. Credit Steven Haywood

St Michael’s Mount where gardeners go to ‘extreme’ lengths to keep the walls weed free. Credit Steven Haywood

The only way the gardeners can carry out their work is to abseil down the 50 metre high castle walls. Continue reading

Custodians of living history

The Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Specialist, Jill Butler, writes about her favourite National Trust trees and the threats facing the UK’s historic trees.

“As a tree archaeologist, I don’t find it very surprising that the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is one of the major custodians of ancient and other veteran trees.

The ancient Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede in Surrey. Credit John Miller

The ancient Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede in Surrey. Credit John Miller

“One of the most special on my list would be the Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede in Surrey. It is thought to be the location where King John, almost 800 years to the day, sealed the Magna Carta. Yews, which can live such long lives, were often used to distinguish burial or religious sites or venues for special occasions.

“The National Trust’s Ankerwycke Yew, Shugborough Yew and Newton’s Apple Tree were, quite rightly, shortlisted in this year’s Tree of the Year competition for England run by the Woodland Trust. The Woodland Trust believes that these, along with other National Trust trees like the Tolpuddle Martyr’s Sycamore, should be on a Register of Trees of National Special Interest. This would be a means of giving top recognition to the part they play in our history and landscape, as we do for many other national assets.

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£5 million pledged to England coast path

Runners taking a break on the South West Coast Path, Studland, Dorset.

Runners taking a break on the South West Coast Path, Studland, Dorset. Credit National Trust images, Chris Lacey.

 

As the Government announces a further £5 million will be committed to speeding up the creation of the coastal path around England, Simon Pryor, Natural England Director at the National Trust, gives his reaction to the news:

“Millions of us visit the English coast every year and we have a deep and strong emotional connection with the coastal places that we cherish.

“This financial back-up of the commitment to open up access to the coastline of England by 2020 continues the journey which has led to better rights of way, and the creation of national trails and National Parks.

“An all England coastal footpath will mean that people can see old favourites anew and connect with a part of the country that has shaped our national identity.”

The National Trust looks after 742 miles of coast in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including one in three miles of the South West of England coast and five miles of the White Cliffs of Dover.

Good girth! Hughenden horse-chestnut breaks UK record to kick off National Tree Week

A 300 year old horse-chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) on the National Trust’s Hughenden estate in Buckinghamshire has been declared the largest horse-chestnut in the country. Continue reading

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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