PICTURES: Ice petals flower in woodland at Hardcastle Crags, Yorkshire

Rangers and volunteers at Hardcastle Crags, west Yorkshire, were treated to a rare spectacle last week as ice “petals” covered branches in woodland on the National Trust estate. 

Frost sculptures

Rangers and volunteers stumbled across these ice sculptures on dead wood at Hardcastle Crags, Yorkshire. Credit: Natalie Pownall/National Trust

Natalie Pownall, 25, National Trust Academy Ranger at Hardcastle Crags, said: “We were walking through the woodland at Hardcastle Crags with our conservation volunteer party, when we saw all these glittering white gems littered on the woodland floor. At first I thought they were fungi – but on closer inspection they turned out to be ice. 

“The ice formations are caused by water in the wood freezing. The water expands out of the logs, creating the beautiful ice ‘petals.’ 

“Most of these ice petals formed on the dead logs that we’ve left on the woodland floor after our woodland conservation work. One tree, which we felled last year, was covered in the ice fungi. Dead wood can also be an important habitat for invertebrates like beetles, birds and fungi. 

“You’ll often see these ice formations if the conditions have been below freezing and clear for a couple of days. Normally they melt away as soon as the sun comes up, but because our wooded valley is north facing and doesn’t get much sun we can enjoy the frost flowers all day long.”

Swimming cows make a dash for island pastures on Strangford Lough

The grass was definitely greener on the other side of the lough for a herd of cattle in County Down, when they attempted to swim back to their island grazing pastures last month.

Eight cows took to Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough after their return to the mainland from a stint grazing on Darragh Island.

Farmers have moved cattle between the islands on Strangford Lough for generations, in the pursuit of fresh grass.

And National Trust rangers regularly transport sheep and cattle between the 12 islands the conservation charity cares for on the sea lough.

Will Hawkins, National Trust ranger at Strangford Lough, said: “We had a tricky job getting them on to the barge. We left a group of cows on the mainland and we were just coming back with the others when a few of the cows decided to swim back to the boat.”

After a few seconds in the water they changed their minds and headed back to the mainland.

“The cows like being on the islands,” Will said. “Other than a couple of kayakers there’s nobody else on the islands. The cows are free to roam.”

The grazing cattle help rangers encourage wildflowers to grow on the islands.

“The way the cows graze and ‘poach’ the ground with their hooves means we get flowers like dog violet coming through.

“It’s like a sea of purple on some of the islands in the spring.”

The cattle belong to the Dines family, one of the last Strangford Lough farming families to graze their animals on islands.

Farmer moves into £1m coastal farm – for just one pound a year

SHEPHERD Dan Jones and his young family have moved in to their ‘dream farm’, the National Trust’s £1 million Parc Farm on the Great Orme, North Wales.

Ceri and Dan Jones and their sheepdogs move into Parc Farm. Credit Richard Williams.JPG

Ceri and Dan Jones and their four sheepdogs, Bet, Tian, Nel and Floss are the new National Trust tenants at Parc Farm on the Great Orme. Credit Richard Williams

Continue reading

PICTURES: Buckinghamshire bat bucks ghoulish reputation at Cliveden Estate

BATS in Buckinghamshire are failing to live up to their ghoulish reputation – with one calmly sitting in National Trust ranger Jordan Worsfold’s gloved hands during a recent survey on the conservation charity’s Cliveden estate.

credit-national-trust-images-jordan-worsfold

Soprano pipistrelle bat. Credit National Trust Images / Jordan Worsfold

Rangers survey for the bats twice a year under license from Natural England with volunteers from the Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire Bat Group. The woodlands and stately home at Cliveden are home to 10 of the 18 species of bat resident in the UK.

Jordan Worsfold, National Trust Academy Ranger at the Cliveden Estate, said: “If the weather stays mild, this Hallowe’en you’ll be able to see Cliveden’s bats flying through the woods at dusk. Thanks to the proximity of the River Thames and our woodland rides, we’ve got thousands on the estate.”

“Bats have a ghoulish reputation – but it’s undeserved. During a bat survey this year, one female Soprano pipistrelle bat happily sat in my hand as I checked her age and size.”  Continue reading

Cider insider welcomes a bumper British apple harvest

NATIONAL TRUST cider expert Rachel Brewer has predicted a strong year for cider and apple juice, with late summer rains producing a sweet and juicy apple crop.

The pommelier and gardener manages ten acres of orchards at Barrington Court, Somerset, where over 90 varieties of apple trees grow.

Ms Brewer said: “The apple juice this year is some of the best we’ve ever made. I was worried that too much summer sun would stunt our crop but the rain came at a crucial moment late in the season, leaving us with lovely sweet and juicy apples.

“There may be some sore heads in Somerset this winter; sweet apples means that our cider will be strong,” she added.
Continue reading

Appeal is launched to reinvigorate Winston Churchill’s legacy at his family home and acquire prized possessions for the nation

A £7.1 million appeal has been launched today by the National Trust to reinvigorate the legacy of one of Britain’s greatest statesmen – Sir Winston Churchill – and to acquire hundreds of historic and personal objects that belonged to him at his home, Chartwell in Kent.

0402_NT_John Hammon_wooden speech box (1)

House and collections manager, Katherine Barnett, with some of the objects, including the wooden speech box. Credit National Trust, John Hammond.

It is fifty years since Chartwell, his family home, was opened to the public. The conservation charity is using this anniversary focus to call on its members, supporters, charitable institutions and public bodies to help reach its appeal target and ensure Churchill’s story resonates with future generations.

Continue reading

Amy Liptrot’s THE OUTRUN wins Wainwright Prize at BBC Countryfile Live

Amy Liptrot’s debut book was named winner of the prestigious award for nature writing at a special event at BBC Countryfile Live this afternoon.

The Outrun, her account of reconnecting with her native Orkney, beat five other titles to win the Wainwright Golden Beer Prize.

Amy Liptrot

Amy Liptrot

Continue reading