National Trust rangers in Brecon Beacons call in helicopter help for essential path conservation work

As the nation celebrates National Parks Week (25-31 July), National Trust rangers have called in helicopter support to carry out essential conservation work on footpaths on Corn Du, the second highest peak in the Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales.

 

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(c) National Trust Images / Graham Bettiss

Over two days earlier this month a fuel-efficient SD2 Squirrel helicopter flew 160 tonnes of local sandstone to rangers on Corn Du. One tonne of this ‘scalping’ stone will cover around two metres of footpath.

An estimated 300,000 people visit National Trust places in the Brecon Beacons every year. By regularly repairing footpaths, rangers from the conservation charity help minimise soil erosion on the hill and prevent damage to the rare plants that grow on the hillside, such as Purple Saxifrage, the most southerly arctic-alpine plant in Britain.

The National Trust cares for over 3,300 hectares (8,200 acres) and 43 miles of path in the Welsh National Park, including southern Britain’s highest mountain, Pen-y-Fan. Continue reading

66 miles of new England Coast Path opens in Kent

The National Trust is today supporting the launch of 66 miles of the England Coast Path in Kent and East Sussex.

The conservation charity cares for six miles of coastline in Kent, including the White Cliffs of Dover and Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve.

An event marking the opening of the path will take place at the National Trust’s White Cliffs visitor centre.

The England Coast Path is an initiative of Natural England, the government’s natural environment agency. When the full path opens in 2020, the 2,700 mile long England Coast Path will be the longest continuous walking trail in the world.

Visitors walking their dog along the clifftop at The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent, on a sunny day in August.

Visitors walking their dog along the clifftop at The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent, on a sunny day in August.(c) National Trust Images / John Millar

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Expanding two precious National Parks

The Government has today announced that it is expanding the size of two of England’s National Parks – the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

Reacting to this exciting announcement Mike Innerdale, National Trust Assistant Director of Operations in the North Region, said: “Expanding the size of these two precious National Parks, loved by millions of people is great news.

“These treasured landscapes play such an important part in connecting people to beautiful places, rich in nature and wonderful human stories. The two new larger National Parks mean that we’ll be able to work more effectively with our partner organisations on a bigger scale to enrich the natural environment and create the space for wildlife and people to flourish.

View of two adult walkers returning from their farm trail on Low Sizergh Farm in Kendal, Cumbria. The path is on a route around the farm and estate. (M.R.)

View of two adult walkers returning from their farm trail on Low Sizergh Farm in Kendal, Cumbria. The path is on a route around the farm and estate.

“We especially welcome the recognition of the scenic, cultural and ecological qualities of the National Trust’s Sizergh Estate and the contribution that this special place will make to the newly expanded Lake District National Park in the future. Its a place enjoyed by walkers, nature lovers and people that are passionate about history”

National Trust sign for the Malham Tarn Estate, North Yorkshire.

National Trust sign for the Malham Tarn Estate, North Yorkshire.

The National Trust owns 25% of the Lake District National Park including Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, and farms given to the conservation charity by Beatrix Potter. In the Yorkshire Dales National Park the Trust manages 6,000 hectares including Malham Tarn and Upper Wharfedale.

Around 40 per cent of National Trust land can be found in the National Parks of England and Wales.

£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.

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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Plea for more family time from 1 in 5 kids

One in five 8-11 year olds want to spend more time with their parents and more than a third of parents said they want to spend more free time with their kids, new research for the National Trust has found.

While watching television and DVDs tops the YouGov poll [1] as the most common way for parents and children to spend time together in the UK [2] 26 per cent of children aged 8-11 years old and nearly half (49 per cent) of all parents surveyed said they would like to spend more time together just going for a walk. 

To help families get out on an Autumn walk, users of the website Mumsnet have provided some top tips on making sure that parents have got everything ready for a fun day out [3] such as climbing a huge hill, flying a kite or hunting for some treasure on a beach.

Over the half-term period there will be hundreds of family walking adventures at National Trust properties as part of the Great British Walk, which has been organised in partnership with PruHealth.

These walks are the perfect way for kids to tick off their ‘50 things to do before they’re 11 ¾’ including collecting and play conkers and picking and eating apples straight from the tree [4].

Simon Pryor, Natural Environment Director at the National Trust, said: “Despite the fact that TV seems to be dominating family life its really encouraging that children and parents want to spend more time together and that walking is seen as a great way of doing just that.

“Walking is a brilliant way for families to spend time together, get fit and discover the joy of the British countryside.

“And with so many great activities taking place at National Trust properties around the country this half-term there’s no better time to get out and go on a walking adventure.”

Mumsnet co-founder and CEO Justine Roberts added:  “It’s all too easy to end up spending all family time in front of screens, watching TV or playing video games. Spending time with the children outdoors can be just as cheap as well as fun and educational and offers a bit of balance in a world dominated by X-Factor and Fifa 12.”

Dr William Bird, a GP and an expert in environment and health, said: “Children can benefit hugely from walking in the outdoors. High blood pressure, cholesterol and depression can be detected in children as young as 10, due to inactivity. Spending time with family, in the outdoors, can invigorate even the most TV or X-box-obsessed children!”

Families can also download free family friendly trails from www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greatbritishwalk and they can also share their favourite walks online for the chance to win a stay in a National Trust holiday cottage [5].

Other findings from the research include:

Eighty one per cent of children aged 8 to 11 surveyed said they watched TV and DVDs with their parents in their free time, 69 per cent go on activity trips and days out, while 66 per cent go to the park together, 61 per cent said they went go to the cinema together, 50 per cent playing sport and 52 per cent on walks.

When asked the same question, parents of children 18 and under who spend their free time together, answered slightly differently but TV still came out top, with 72 per cent.  According to parents, the second most common joint activity was going to the park (47 per cent), followed by going on activity/day trips (46 per cent) and going walking ranked fourth with 37 per cent.  

When asked which activities they’d like to do more with their children, 18 and under parents said day trips were the only activity that was more popular than walking, with 56 per cent of parents saying they would like to go on more joint outings with their kids, compared to 49 per cent that said they’d like to spend more time on walks with their children.

The 8 to 11 year olds surveyed said they’d like to spend more time with their parents doing outdoor activities such as going to the park (47 per cent) and playing sport (46 per cent).

Over half of the parents surveyed (54 per cent) said they spend more time with their children than their own parents did. And one in three (35 per cent) of parents said that they would like to spend more leisure time with their children.

Not surprisingly, the figures for teenagers (12-15 year olds) wanting to spend more time with their parents (13 per cent) drop off though only 2 per cent of 12-15 year olds want to spend less time with their parents.

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Notes to editors:

[1] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Both surveyed were carried out online.

Children’s survey :  Total sample size 493 (of which 230 were aged 8 to 11 and 263 aged 12 to 15). Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th September – 1st October 2012.  The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB children (aged 8-15).

Parents survey: Total sample size was 2054 adults (of which 492 were parents of children aged 18 and under). Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th September – 1st October 2012 The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

[2] The figure among parents with children aged 18 and under was 72 per cent and 81 per cent 8-11 year olds surveyed. 

[3] Mumsnet users’ top five tips for days out and about with the family:

–          Keep it simple.  A day out with the children doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate – sometimes heading a little further afield to a different park rather than walking to your usual playground is a real treat.

–          Buy an annual membership for the family, whether it’s for a local farm, adventure playground or for the National Trust – it saves money long-term and provides a good reminder to get out there regularly.

–          Make the most of outdoor spaces where your children can run around and use their imagination. You could go for a forest walk, visit the grounds of a country house or take a trip to the beach. Bonus points if they get to interact with wildlife along the way.

–          Be prepared for the elements.  Suntan lotion, rain ponchos, extra layers and comfortable shoes or wellies (for everyone) will ensure a family day out remains a fun one, whatever the weather decides.

–          Packed lunch is a must.  A carefully prepared cool bag, complete with frozen drink cartons and finger food favourites means that you won’t get caught out on a  day out or end up paying a fortune for expensive snacks and drinks.

[4] The full list of 50 things can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/50things and you can also find some great ideas for walks which can help you tick off some of the list during the Autumn.

[5] As part of the Great British Walk families are being encouraged to share their favourite walks and have the chance to win a stay in a National Trust holiday cottage and have their walk illustrated.  Full terms and conditions about the competition can be found on the website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greatbritishwalk