Friday, 18 March 2011

Coppice Day, 13th March, Froggatt Wood

Last Sunday, Longshaw Estate’s Froggatt Wood was alive with the spirit of days gone by. Woodsmoke drifted through the trees from a charcoal burner, as local adults and children alike grabbed loppers, bowsaws and the odd billhook, and got to work coppicing hazel. 

Tour of the Old Lead Smelter
This event, co-hosted with Transitions Hope Valley, had something for everyone. Wardens led guided walks to explain the importance of managing this woodland for wildlife, groups visited an old lead smelter where an archaeologist described the historical importance of the wood for the local community, and children drew pictures with charcoal and played bow and arrows. 
Making Charcoal
In a clearing, a tarpaulin covered a tea and cake stall, beside a fire where volunteers and children baked bread. 
Up through the coppiced hazel was the green woodworking section, where local craftsmen demonstrated traditional “bodging”, the dying arts of cleaving, wattle hurdle making, hazel weaving, spoon carving, and pole lathe turning. After an overcast start, the day gradually brightened up until, by late afternoon, it felt like we’d witnessed the first day of Spring.

 John & Jon turning wood

Working horse from Sheffield Green Estates 'Big Lad'
My role in the Coppice day was “demonstrating” green wood turning on a pole lathe that I’d made over the last few weeks with the help of several of the Longshaw team (thanks Angela, Mike and Chris!) Ably assisted by Jon from the Estate Team and supervised by Andy from the Peak Park footpath team, we got the lathe working with a coppiced hazel pole and had plenty of interest from people of all ages. 
It was a relief to see it working since I’d never actually used one before I made it! We had to overcome a few obstacles such as extending the treadle, fixing hinges made from a pair of old leather gloves, and fixing a piece of Sycamore branch as an adjustable handle, but we got there in the end. 

All in all it was a great project to work on and hopefully the pole lathe will get a few more outings at events and open days yet to come! 

John Mead, Countryside Long Term Volunteer, Dark Peak Estate

Sharn Whaites, Countryside Volunteer, Dark Peak Estate

I've been volunteering with the National Trust on The Peak District Estate since September 2009. That September I was fortunate to get a place on a working holiday where myself and 8 others spent a weekend replacing a fence in the Derwent Valley.  
That weekend I met National Trust Warden's Andy Houldsworth, Senior Warden Bill Hamer and Careership Warden Alex Sharrod, also on the team was a longterm volunteer Alan.
We all had a great weekend and I was really keen to continue volunteering.  I was given encouragement by the team and the information on how to become as a regular volunteer. I couldn't wait to start and I haven't looked back, I have been a regular volunteer on the estate ever since.
I mainly volunteer in and around the Derwent and Snake area but I have also worked at Longshaw, Edale and Kinder.
The work I undertake is varied and no two days are the same. Some of the tasks I have done have ranged from cotton grass planting on Kinder, a great deal of walling and fencing across the estate, the laying and repairing of paths, assisting at the Hayfield Show, Painting, repairing gates, blocking gulley's, tree pruning, planting trees, assisting with the Acorn Camps and walks, maintaining equipment and tools, I've even herded stray sheep, and these are just a few things that I have helped out with!!! 
No matter what tasks I do or where I work I have always received a warm welcome by the Trust staff and have always left the day feeling valued by a genuine appreciation for the time I give. 
Volunteering for the Trust gives me a lot of satisfaction and it allows me to play a small part in the valuable conservation work done on the Dark Peak Estate.
Sharn Whaites

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Gully Blocking - Seal Stones Mar 11

Have Some Free Time On Us at Ilam Park

The breath-taking view across to Dovedale from Ilam Park with the Italian Gardens in the foreground.

Enjoy some free time on us this weekend.  Visit Ilam Park and enjoy free parking all day on Saturday & Sunday 19th & 20th March 2011.  Visit the National Trust Visitor Centre and shop and take a stroll around Ilam Park to discover the renovated zig-zag paths, the mysterious 'Boil Holes' and St. Bertram's Bridge.  Explore Hinkley Wood and Paradise Walk before returning to the Manifold Tearoom for delicious, freshly-prepared lunches and cream teas. (Shop & Tearoom open 11am to 5pm)

The more adventurous can use Ilam Park as the base from which to start their walk through Dovedale or the Manifold Valley.  Those with a head for heights can head for the top of Thorpe Cloud or Bunster Hill and enjoy spectacular views back over Ilam or north towards Hartington and beyond.

Whether it's a long walk or a stroll and a coffee, you're guaranteed to find something to enjoy in this special corner of the Peak District.  And this weekend, it's on us!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Karen Frenkel, Book Signing @ Longshaw Visitor Centre

Karen will be at Longshaw from 11am to 2pm on Sunday 3rd April.  She will be signing copies of her book Peak Landscape and Light which is on sale for £16.99.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Fueled By Local People, the Restoration Of Kinder Scout Begins.

The National Trust in the Peak District has teamed up with the Biffa Awards Scheme, United Utilities and Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship Scheme to deliver a £2.5 million project to restore Kinder Scout driven by the views of local people. Over a period of 5 years extensive conservation work will be undertaken in order to regenerate vast areas of the bare and degraded blanket peat landscape for the future.

To ensure success of this project a temporary fence will be erected around Kinder Scout to keep sheep, but not people, off the moorland. This will allow the newly planted vegetation to become established, while keeping access to Kinder Scout open for walkers. Consultation for the fence was launched in December 2010 to give local people the chance to have their say on the plans. This included public meetings in Edale and Hayfield, along with feedback via the Kinder Scout website. 

Mike Innerdale, General Manager for the National Trust in the Peak District says:  “Kinder Scout is loved by thousands of people who live locally or visit the area so it was important to us that those people had the opportunity to play a part in helping us plan the line of the fence and the best access for walkers.” The consultation found that the majority of people were in support of the plans to install the fence whilst the restoration work takes place. The favourite routes of walkers, along with Public Rights of way, were taken into account in order to establish the best access points for walkers in the line of the fence. These access points will be no further than 100m apart and will take the form of a step over stile.

The first phase of the fencing will begin later this month, with work being done by local contractor, Allan Froggatt Fencing. The work will see the fence posts being flown into the remote site by helicopter.

As soon as the fencing is in position, restoration work will start with the planting of 81,000 cotton grass plants to stabilise areas of bare peat and eroding gullies. An additional 39,000 plants will be planted by the end of the summer, with many more over the next few years.  In addition to this, heather brash will be spread across large areas of Kinder Scout to encourage heather to re-seed and large numbers of erosion gullies will be blocked each winter to help keep the peat wet and encourage the new vegetation to thrive.

As the moorland vegetation re-establishes, local wildlife will benefit, including priority species such as Skylark, Dunlin and Curlew. In addition to this, the regeneration will help improve water quality by reducing suspended sediments, colour and dissolved organic carbon, which will in turn reduce water treatment costs. Philip Weiss, the new Kinder Scout Catchment Project Officer, said, “This is an exiting partnership and a project where everyone, visitors, water customers and the environment, are winners”.

If you’d like to find out more about the project as it progresses visit

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Feathery Fun at Granby Barn

On Thursday the 24th of February children and adults alike gathered to have some feathery fun at Granby Barn on the Longshaw estate. The beautiful sunny half-term day was a perfect setting for all different activities about birds. The barn was kitted out with all the information you could need on the birds in the surrounding area, to help children, and their parents, to complete the bird quiz. One end on the barn also acted as a bird hide, with binoculars to help to locate the giant birds set up in the landscape outside, as well as the real ones!

For those more practically minded, there were birds feeders to be made from milk cartons and plastic bottles, a great way of recycling and helping birds at the same time! Along with this, to help the birds get ready for the spring, there were bird boxes and nest bundles being made. The children took all of the things they had made home to encourage birds into their gardens.

Setting up inside the barn
In addition to all of this there was a bird walk around Longshaw, led by Warden Mark Bull, for everyone to find out more about the birds in and around the area and where they live. One child in each group had the responsibility of listing all of the birds spotted on the walk, with one grand total coming to 13 different types!
All in all, the beautiful weather and exciting activities made for a great event for all of the family

Kate Skidmore, Vistor Experience Internship

To find another event like this one go to

Mudlarks at Longshaw 'The Creators'

22nd February 2011

Up at the Christmas tree nursery, adjacent to the Moorlands Discovery Centre, four Mudlkarks (Mudlarks Conservation Volunteers) assisted NT Wardens  Mark  Bull  and  volunteer Keith to prepare the ground, transplant trees and plant new  Blue Spruce  and  Fraser  Fir saplings to replace stock that was sold last Christmas. Saplings are initially planted furthest away from the sales hut and transplanted as they grow  slightly larger . Keith turned over the soil where small trees had been dug up with a rotovator and new saplings were planted in their place. When the trees become almost ready for sale they are transplanted close to the Sales Hut, where the public are allowed to go to choose and buy their  living  tree for Christmas.


Preparation now is the key to a more manageable nursery later when deciding where to plant the trees. By taking the time and using  a line  to keep straight rows and a measuring cane to get the correct spacing between the trees it will be possible to get round them with a mower to keep  the grass down, instead of having the back breaking task of weeding by hand. We took particular care to get the right spacing as we knew the penalty for doing the job wrong! Throughout the year we will revisit the nursery to keep the weeds and grass down and Mark will , every January,   prune the trees into that iconic Christmas tree shape. Believe it or not, they don't all naturally grow into the shape of trees you see on  Christmas cards.


Christmas tree sales are an important part of Longshaw Estate's annual income, generating just over £20,000 profit from trees grown in the nursery and the larger trees brought to the nursery from other sites in December. The money is used to help fund maintenance of Longshaw Estate and fund other projects to improve the public's experience when visiting the estate.

Martin Gourley, Mudlarks

Mudlarks at Longshaw 'The Destroyers'

Tuesday 22nd Feb, about a dozen Mudlarks emerged from the mist and assembled at Longshaw. 
 Too many persons for the designated task so the group was split; the creators, planting tree saplings, and the destroyers, to slash and burn rhodos. 
 I was in the second group and my first task was to light a fire.  Unfortunately the twigs were sodden to the core but with paper and a few firelighters, flames were created, apart from singeing my hat, moisture was driven out of the twigs which quickly put the fire out!
Vigorous fanning for about half an hour finally established a fire.  Breaking for lunch we resolved some of the country’s problems.
As groups stopped, John pounced engaging them in conversation.  Not sure if he was explaining what we were doing or recruiting potential bell ringers but all left smiling.  
At the end of the day our task was completed, all the previously cut brash was burnt together with all that we had cut. A satisfactory day at Longshaw concluded.

Keith Saunders, Mudlarks