Thursday, 12 May 2011

Ilam Dew Pond Restoration

In the sheep grazed parkland behind Ilam Hall, part of the Peak District Estate’s White Peak Area, is a large dew pond.  About six years ago a fenced wooden platform was built next to it to enable safe pond dipping by many visiting school children each year.

During Restoration
Ken Sharples, the National Trust Community and Learning Officer, leads children as they net specimens from the dew pond, often to compare them with ones caught in the nearby river Manifold.  The leeches, water fleas, water boatmen etc. are temporarily taken back to the Learning Centre beneath Ilam Hall.  By using the projecting microscope the children can see images of the living creatures a thousand times larger on the screen.

Unfortunately, by 2010, the dew pond was choked with mud and reed-mace.  Pond dipping was much less successful or enjoyable and biodiversity in the dew pond was reducing.  Mudlarks National Trust Volunteers accepted the challenge to clear the unwanted mud and vegetation.

Dark Peak Area staff willingly loaned a pump to lower the water level and tools to dig out the dew pond during the dormant autumn and winter seasons of 2010.  Mudlarks NTV minimised disturbance around the dew pond and left some mud and reed-mace in place to preserve habitat and encourage insects and other pond life to re-colonise it.

By the spring of 2011 school groups were back at Ilam and pond dipping in the restored dew pond.  Ken Sharples said recent specimen catches showed that insects were flourishing once more in the dew pond and biodiversity was increasing.

After restoration
Future cooperation between the NT staff and volunteers to establish a regular maintenance programme will prevent the dew pond from becoming overgrown again. It will mean that this valuable learning resource is always available for visiting school parties and biodiversity in the dew pond continues to improve.

If you would like to join in other practical conservation projects look on the National Trust website to find contact details for your local volunteer group.

John Boyle           Mudlarks NTV   

Monday, 9 May 2011

Peak District to host New Cycling Event.

 An exciting new cycling event The National Trust's White Peak Challenge Ride will take place on the 3rd July 2011 on the Peak District Estate starting and finishing in the picturesque village of Ilam.  This new sportive, has three fabulous routes, a 38 mile route ideally suited to those who might be doing their first sportive, a 57 miles option and a 87 mile ride for the more experienced sportive rider, taking in some of the great Peak passes. All routes go through some of England’s most stunning countryside, offering riders the opportunity to explore areas where they may never have been. The event is organised on behalf of the Trust by the leading UK sportive organiser, KILO TO GO. 

Jenny Gerrans, Events and Engagement Officer for Trust said, ‘We are really excited to be holding this new event in the Peak District.  The short and medium routes will be taking in beautiful views of the limestone hills and dales of the White Peak, while the longest route will reach as far north as Longshaw, encountering some of the majestic gritstone edges and moorland landscapes managed by the National Trust in the Peak District.”

Simon Thomson from KILO TO GO said, “The White Peak countryside provides a route with some beautiful ingredients for a great ride in this spectacular area of the Peak District.  All three routes take in challenging terrain and will provide hills that will exhilarate all riders. As the mileage increases the ride gets even tougher, providing a fantastic route for even the most experienced riders. With three fully arrowed and supported routes to choose from, and with plentiful designated free refreshment stops along the way, this is a great day out.”

The event forms part of the National Trust’s new cycling programme which encourages people to enjoy the outdoors on a bike. The National Trust in the Peak District are launching more downloadable cycle trails and running some other events including cycling weekends at Longshaw in July as part of the wider National Trust Cycling Festival.  For more information please visit 

For further details about the White Peak Challenge Ride route, charges and entry details - please visit

Editors notes.

Starting at Ilam Country Park, all the routes head down towards Ashbourne, and then turn Northwards past Carsington Water, and up to Winster where the three routes split. The shorter route returns to Ilam via Parwich. The medium route heads over to Crowdicote where it rejoins the long route. The long route, meanwhile, continues North up to Baslow Edge, Longshaw and Hathersage.

At Crowdicote, the routes enjoy a spectacular descent down to Longnor before the long climb up to the Western edge of the Peak District and the Roaches. At which point, the riders enjoy a mostly downhill route back to Ilam via Onecote and Warslow before reaching Alstonefield where the short route rejoins. All the riders then enjoy a perfect downhill descent in to Ilam to finish.

The start line opens at 08:00 and closes at 09:00

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Mam Tor Information Boards

Jon & Chris working out how to lift the boards up.
The National Trust car park at Mam Tor, nr Castleton, has just acquired some new information boards. 
The three boards have been made from green oak by local craftsman Austin Neaves.

They feature an interpretation map of Mam Tor and the Edale Valley, local information and posters on National Trust events in the area, plus holders for leaflets.

The heavy oak panels took a team of workers a day to get them into place.

Putting the first Borad in place

Steve Hodson, Estate Team