Meadow Restoration at Hudswell Woods by Ranger Seb

On a cold wet winter’s day it’s difficult to get excited about flower meadows. Flower heads nodding in a warm summer breeze; the hum and activity of pollinating insects; it all seems a million miles away. Yet, amidst the brown and yellowed grasses there is a dormant potential just waiting for spring sunshine and warmth. At least, gazing across the meadow areas at Hudswell Woods, I very much hope this is the case.

Over the last year we have been working with the charity Buglife to restore some of our meadows to their full potential. At Hudswell Woods we have approximately 10 hectares of grassland, but in recent years the absence of regular grazing has resulted in large areas being swamped by rank grass and encroaching scrub. As a consequence we have lost much of the wild flower diversity that we associate with Yorkshire Dales hay meadows.

Image

A typical species rich hay meadow
                        Credit Paul Evans

With funding from the SITA Trust, Buglife has undertaken a project to restore and create wildflower-rich grasslands around Richmond. This meadow restoration is part of Buglife’s B-Lines initiative and will help to create important links to the internationally important hay meadows of upper Swaledale. Two thirds of the meadow area at Hudswell Woods has been included in this restoration and the remaining areas we have undertaken to reinstate ourselves.

Work has involved new fencing and gates to ensure the meadows are stock proof and safe for cattle to graze. Areas of rank grass have been topped with a flail mower and raked with a spring tine to scratch out the grass thatch. We have used small tractors to work on our riverside meadows as there is no easy vehicular access. Getting tractors in (downhill) has been straightforward, getting out (uphill, on wet greasy mud) has proved more of a challenge. On our last day of contractor work in October it was touch and go whether the machinery would have to stay and overwinter!

Image

Scarifying to remove thatch and open the ground for seeding

Mowing and scarifying effectively opened up the ground, preparing the soil for seeds and plug plants, as well as creating optimal conditions for the existing meadow flora and seed bank. Meadow seed, a proportion of which was spread as green hay, was collected from local donor hay meadows. Desirable species for reintroduction include Yellow Rattle, Wood Cranesbill, Common Knapweed, Betony, Lady’s Bedstraw, Great Burnet and Rough Hawkbit. On the top meadow where vehicle access is straight forward, machinery was used to spread green hay. On the riverside meadows our volunteers stepped up to the task which also included planting out 400 plugs of Wood Cranesbill, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, and Devil’s Bit Scabious.

Image

Meadow seed collected from a donor field in nearby Bellerby

Image

The collected meadow seed

Image

Spreading the seed by hand

Mowing also stimulated a new flush of grass for the cattle. Reintroducing a grazing regime is a crucial part of our restoration programme. However, last summer it proved tricky to get the cattle to the riverside meadows, despite the best efforts of our tenant farmer. In the absence of more natural methods we resorted to simulating the soil disturbance and grazing with machinery. We also planned works to ensure cattle would reach the fields this coming spring.

Image

Contrast between mown and unmown grass

Long term we intend to manage the meadows with grazing. Meadow areas will be grazed for approximately two months in spring and again in late summer allowing for a hay crop to grow in between. Hay will be harvested by machine on our top meadow and grazed off on the riverside areas where vehicle access is limited. Riverside areas are popular with picnicking families and dog walkers so we are also tailoring work to ensure that restoration activities do not encroach on people’s enjoyment of the area. So far our plan to reintroduce grazing has been well received by the local community and we hope that this understanding will be rewarded in years to come with a stunning display of meadow flowers.

Image

Long-term we intend to use cattle to manage the meadow areas. Cattle are selective grazers, leaving a varied sward, and their feet disturb the ground encouraging a diverse flora.

So what is left to do? Well, we have some scrub to clear this winter, some fencing to put up, and some cattle to move once the grass begins to grow and the fields dry out. Otherwise we just have to patiently wait. Walking over the meadows on a wet winter’s day, wellies squelching and wrapped up against driving rain, there is an air of excitement. Just look at the meadow. If you look closely you will see the budding potential at your feet!

Image

Pignut, Bugle, Yellow Rattle and Red Clover are all species that we would like to encourage. Credit: Paul Evans

A Valentine’s Treat by Ranger Cassie

Here in the Yorkshire Dales we have tried to stick to our New Years Resolutions of eating a little bit healthier,  however with Valentine’s Day arriving soon I thought I would share with you my recipe for Chocolate Brownies as everyone deserves a little treat now and again.

Chocolate Brownies:

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 170g  unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing the pan. I use greaseproof paper but butter works just as well.
  • 330g sugar
  • 85g all purpose flour
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 3 eggs
  • A pinch of salt (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon golden syrup (optional)
  • 100g white chocolate chunks (chopped pecans, walnuts or raisins can be substituted instead if preferred.)

Image

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180◦C or Gas mark 4. Grease the edges and bottom of a 9×9 baking tin.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Pour the melted butter into a mixing bowl and let it cool for a minute or two.
  3. Add the cocoa powder, sugar and salt and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until combined.
  4. Add in the Eggs one at a time and mix until glossy and smooth.
  5. Stir in the golden syrup and vanilla essence.
  6. Stir in the flour until it is all incorporated and stir for another 20 seconds. If you are using Chocolate chips or Nuts gently fold them into the mixture.
  7. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking tin and transfer it to the oven.
  8. Bake for 25- 30 minutes or until the edges pull away slightly from the side of the pan and a knife inserted into the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Image

For the Valentine’s Day brownies I have decorated them using pink icing sugar and white chocolate hearts. You can decorate them however you would like to.
Image

Decoration:

  1. Once cooked removed from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer onto a wire rack or chopping board.
  3. Cut into equal sized portions and decorate.

Image

Seasonal delights to tempt your palette By Ranger Roisin

To start the New Year we thought we would start a regular blog about what to eat seasonally from our walled garden and what to forage for when out for a walk.  Myself, Cassie, Liz and other members of the Yorkshire Dales National Trust team will all be posting interesting information and folklore about the flora and fauna around Malham, Upper Wharfedale and Hudswell woods.  We will be telling you about what we are all eating seasonally from our walled garden and what we are foraging for while out and about.  We will also give you some of our yummy recipes, including some family secrets, to try at home.

Delicious homemade soup and bread

Delicious homemade soup and bread

While cake is a very important part of the Ranger diet here in the Yorkshire Dales even we feel the need to eat a bit more healthily after Christmas, so on Friday I raided the walled garden for some potatoes to join some onions and leeks I have grown at home to make some healthy and comforting leek and potato soup.  I will also share my granny’s Irish Wheaten Bread recipe, which is so easy you will wonder how it can be so good.

Leek and Potato Soup

This recipe can be adjusted to taste and to what you grow or can buy

  • 4 small to medium or 3 large leeks
  • 4 small to medium or 2 large potatoes
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 litres of vegetable stock (homemade or stock cubes)
  • Good pinch of salt and pepper
  • Good pinch of chopped fresh or dried rosemary or mixed herbs
  • 2 dried bay leaves
soup 3

Freshly picked ingredients are always best

Dice the onions and add these and the olive oil to a large pan and sweat on a medium temperature. Wash and slice the leeks and add these to the onions and sweat until soft. You can peel the potatoes but it is not essential, cut these into small chunks and add to the pan. Add the stock, salt is optional depending on the stock, add the pepper and if using dried herbs add these and the bay leaves.  Seasoning can be adjusted later. Bring to a rapid simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.  Add any fresh herbs and simmer for one more minute. Take out the bay leaves and this can be eaten as it is or as I prefer to use a hand blender so the soup becomes thick and smooth.  If you do blend the soup you can add a dash of milk to help make the soup a bit smoother tasting.

Granny’s Irish Wheaten Bread

  • 225g /8oz wholemeal flour
  • 225g/8oz plain flour
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of soda
  • 350ml/12 floz buttermilk or natural yogurt
soup 2

Now for the homemade bread

Preheat the oven at 200oC/425F/gas mark 8. Put a large casserole dish with the lid on into the oven to warm up as the oven warms. Mix the flour, salt, sugar and bicarbonate of soda in a large mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk or yogurt and mix with your hands to form a soft dough.  If the dry ingredients don’t full mix in add a dash more milk or yogurt. Dust your work surface with some flour and shape your dough into a big flattened ball that will fit your casserole dish and is about 4 cm/1.5 inches thick.  It can be thicker if your dish is smaller. Use a knife to make quite deep scores in the top of the loaf so the circle is marked into quarters or farls in Irish do not cut all the way through the dough. Remove the casserole dish from the oven and dust with flour. Carefully, as the dish will be very hot, lower the dough into it, cover and put back into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the bread is brown, with a crusty top and springs back when pressed. Your kitchen should also smell yummy. Leave the bread in the dish for 5 to 10 minutes before you carefully remove the bread. It is best eaten warm.

soup 4

Delicious…

Improving Access into Redmire Wood

Over in Upper Wharfedale there is a project underway to improve the accessibility of Redmire Wood. The intention of the project is to create an accessible route through the wood that offers a different feel to the more typical walking routes found in the Yorkshire Dales. As part of this project the team are looking at restoring some of the features found within this spectacular woodland. The woodland was owned by the Ramsden family back in 1831 and they altered the woodland to make it appear more like a landscaped garden which has resulted in a number of remarkable exotic tree species being planted by the family including rhododendrons, scotch pine and coastal redwoods. The woodland also contains 4 miles of old carriageways, waterfalls and viewpoints/picnic areas. This woodland has a much different feel to it than other more semi-natural woodlands found across the Yorkshire Dales and it is due to this that we as a property would like to improve the access so that all who visit can experience the woodland for themselves.

As part of this project I have been involved in helping to create an accessible route throughout the Woodland, so it has been my responsibility to build and install a series of wooden temporary access gates. The aim of the project overall is to restore the cast iron fencing and gates that exist throughout the woodland but as these will take a long time to fully restore I have built the wooden gates so that people are able to walk through the woodland sooner whilst the work is ongoing.

It all started with myself and Roisin (one of the other Rangers) walking the permissive route through the woodland to find out how many gates would be required and the size that they would need to be. As I haven’t built pedestrian gates before we found a design template and then got to work.

The first gate was built on a lovely sunny day back in February of 2013 with help from Jessica, one of the National Trust Kids Council members. This was a great experience for myself and for Jessica as we both learnt how to correctly measure and build a successful gate. We had the gate finished in the day and I was pleased at how well the gate fitted together. After some discussion we decided that we liked the look of the gate, but as they were going to be kissing gates they needed to be a bit more stock proof, so it was back to the drawing board to redesign the other 5 gates required.

Then came March and the snow, for a couple of days the Yorkshire Dales came to stand still as snow plows and gritters tried to clear the roads of snow and ice which meant we were snowed out of our main office. However it also meant that it was the perfect time to build the five remaining gates. So as the snow continued to fall outside I set to work wrapped up in warm clothing in the workshop in Cray (Upper Wharfedale). Building the gates on my own was a bit of a challenge and required about 5 hands at times, but after several re-cuts of rails they were finally finished and we had 6 gates ready to be installed throughout the woodland.

Before I knew it months had passed in a wave of different jobs and events and it had reached July and the gates still hadn’t been installed, so with the help of Peter, Liz and Taylor, (who was working with us on work experience) the first gate was installed at Redmire Wood.

Image

The original gateway

The first job when installing the gate was to clear back the over hanging branches from the nearby beech tree before carefully cutting a gap in the old iron fencing using a circular saw. We then started to dig the hole using a metal bar, spade and shove-hols to clear out the mud. Once we had dug down we then placed the post into the hole and made sure it was straight using a post holder and spirit level. As these are temporary gates they are not going to be cemented into the ground, but we made sure that they were stable by placing alternate layers of rocks and soil into the hole and tamping the material down, this compacts the material and makes the post firm in the ground.

Image

Digging using a shove-hol

After we had one post firmly in place it was then time to hang the gate. After we had attached the hinges we then attached a catch to the gate so that it would remain closed we also attached a spring to the bottom of the gate so that it is self closing. This was all done in attempt to stop livestock gaining access into the woodland; it is due to livestock that we decided to install kissing gates rather than just swinging gates.

Image

Ensuring the gate and posts were level

Once the gate was hung and both posts were firmly in place it was then time to start fencing around the gate to create the frame for the kissing gate and to stock proof the rest of the fence. This involved knocking posts into the ground using a post knocker and then post and railing between them. We had to ensure that the first post we placed in was positioned correctly as this is one that the gate will clash against to ensure that sheep do not get through the gate. Building the kissing gates was a new experience for me and allowed me to develop my skills further, working with more experienced members of staff  to install the first gate meant that I could then go on and install the rest of the kissing gates with the help of the other Rangers.

Image

Installing the fencing

The first gate went according to plan and was finished in a day and a half. Full of confidence after the success of the first gate I set off with the help of Richard to install the second gate a few days later, but discovered that the soil within the woodland varies, so although it was easy digging for the first gate the second was much tougher. We were digging through limestone bedrock and it took us until lunchtime to get the first post secure in the ground. After several more hours and lots more digging we finally had the second post installed and it was time to hang the gate. Disaster, the gate didn’t close up as neatly to the post as I would have liked, luckily it overhung the post rather than being too short. After a long day we headed back to base ready for me to head up the next day and finish the kissing gate. A very hard day but an important lesson learned always make sure you hang the gate before digging in the clashing post.

A great learning experience and gate number three is now installed and ready to go. We decided after another walk round that only 5 gates would be required so three down and two more to go.

Image

The completed kissing gate

 If you venture into Redmire Wood for a walk be sure to look out for the new gates.

By Cassie Williams, Ranger

Monitoring and erosion at the NNR

It has been a remarkably pleasant summer up here at Malham Tarn after the damp experience of 2012 (braw rather than driech as they’d say in my home town north of the border).

I’d like to give you the latest information on a number of projects we’ve been working on – and then continue my musings on nature and its place in society!  This is a bumper edition of the blog as it’s been some time since the last one.

Exciting monitoring event!  Back in July we worked with Natural England colleagues on a mammoth exercise setting up and recording over 50 permanent vegetation plots across the National Nature Reserve (NNR) at Malham.  This is part of a really important long-term monitoring project instigated by Natural England – to record vegetation, birds, butterflies, soils and weather on a series of NNRs to encompass the range of more natural habitats.  The aim is to supplement existing long-term work to chart the impacts of climate change and other potential widespread changes like aerial pollution, thus allowing us to disentangle the impacts of these from local factors like grazing animals.   Many thanks to Christoph Kratz at Natural England for his organisational skills and all the 50 volunteers for their help with the recording. It was fun and worthwhile!

Small pearl-bordered fritillary found during long-term monitoring

Small pearl-bordered fritillary found during long-term monitoring

Erosion of Tarn Moss.  For those of you visiting Malham later this autumn, you may notice some big machines working on the peat cliffs on the western edge of the Tarn.  For some time now we have been investigating options for overcoming the dramatic erosion of the raised bog of Tarn Moss.  This is due to the water level of the Tarn being increased by nearly 1.5m back in the 1790s and ever since, the wave and water action has been eating into the adjacent bog.  With much advice and with funding from Natural England, we have decided to trial a ‘soft engineered’ approach to greatly reduce the erosion and to improve the condition of both the bog and the Tarn.  I will report on progress!

Peat eroding at the edge of Malham Tarn

Peat eroding at the edge of Malham Tarn

Environmental work with our tenant farmers.  Our tenant farmers are doing a great job enhancing the wide range of important environmental features found across the Yorkshire Dales properties.  All are in Environmental Stewardship and the great majority have significant enhancement objectives under the Higher Level of the scheme.  These include achieving richer and more natural mosaics of grassland, heathland and bog habitats through modifications to stock grazing regimes – as well as extending areas of native woodland and scrub.

In a number of places the farmers have recently agreed to further works such as restoration of habitat along the River Wharfe, a shift to cattle grazing on a block of moorland and new areas for tree establishment.

Our thanks to the tenants for working so constructively with us.  They have had to struggle through an extremely hard autumn, winter and spring which meant huge increases in feed costs to keep their stock alive.  The economics of hill farming is tough, particularly when the weather and other factors like new diseases intervene.

In future I hope to be able to add a farmer perspective to our blogs, with contributions from one or two of our tenants.

Bee nests.  A Scottish artist, Alec Findlay, has been working with us at the Janet’s Foss woodland to erect extremely unusual bee nests – or bee books – in a number of ash trees.   He adapts hardback books about bees to create nests for solitary bees and wasps – and thus help these fascinating and important pollinators.  His objective is to encourage people to think about the plight of both bees and ash trees. . .

Society and our responsibility to nature.   Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to spend time volunteering in a National Park in Uganda and to have a holiday visiting two National Parks in Nepal.  Carbon footprint aside, travel does help put things in perspective.  Most striking to me was the overwhelming impact we humans have – wherever you look!

Photographs from space show the earth to be a very beautiful and very special planet.  I think we all know that it is special and beautiful and increasingly that it is also fragile.  I find it shocking the extent to which we humans have altered the face of the planet.  Even in Uganda and Nepal the great majority of the land below the mountain tops is now farmed – and poor, hungry people are understandably pushing at the boundaries of the relatively small National Parks.

It must be our responsibility to look after our precious planet and the other living things that share it with us!   Surely we can’t want a world that is stripped of other species apart from the crops and trees needed for our basic survival.

In the UK we destroyed our more natural ecosystems many centuries ago and I don’t think we can plead restraint and action from other countries if we don’t do more to restore and enhance the remnants of our nature.  I favour long-term public support for the farmers and landowners of the areas that retain natural features – at the same time as taking opportunities to move to a few larger nature reserve areas where nature takes priority.

Elephant trench at edge of Ugandan National Park

Elephant trench at edge of Ugandan National Park

By Peter Welsh, Ecologist & Wildlife Engagement Office

Just a giant jigsaw really!

The Pennines and especially the Yorkshire Dales are famous for having hundreds of miles of dry stone walls, try and imagine the landscape without them. A Dry Stone wall is built without any cement. And although the actual wall may not be very old the lines of the walls can go back to Celtic or Viking times. Others are from the Enclosure Acts (1750 – 1850).

The recent bad winters/summers have caused many walls to fall down so a lot of the time Roisin, Cassie and I can be seen out around Malham and in Wharfedale repairing the “gaps” often in waterproofs! Our work doesn’t stop for rain.

Image

Most of the walls within the Malham and Wharfedale Estate are the responsibility of the tenant. But some, around woodland or alongside some tracks and footpaths are repaired by the National Trust Ranger Team, sometimes with the help of volunteers, or sometimes by volunteer groups with the help of a Ranger.

The earliest walls were a convenient way of clearing stones from the land for cultivation and providing a barrier to livestock. The stones were piled up, “in a line”. The wall in the picture was made by up ending limestone pavement. As time went on “Walling” became a more skilful craft. When we are repairing the walls we usually try to match our work to the style of the existing wall.

Image

A clue to the age of the wall can be the size and shape of the fields, some of the fields on the hillside as you approach Malham Cove close to the Lynchets are quite small, and are from Celtic times. Where the fields were cultivated (used for crops) an “L” shaped field may have been worked by oxen where as an “S” shaped field may have been worked by horses. Like the country roads other walls follow may follow historic boundaries or avoid obstructions. Walls from the Enclosure Acts (18th – 19th Century) tend to be straighter and more uniform in appearance; they were built to enclose as much land as possible for the landowner. Boundary walls are usually higher than other walls.

Within the walls can be found historical features; two “Wall Heads” within a length of wall may indicate where responsibility for the wall between neighbours changes. Uniformly cut stone may have come from a nearby building.

There may also be “Creep” or “Cripple” holes which allow sheep through but not cattle, or old blocked up gateways.

Image

Walling is a bit like doing a large jigsaw and it can take a long time to get the hang of, or get your eye in for stone. In principal; the largest stones are used for the Foundations or Footings. The wall is then constructed with the next largest with the best faces, with the stones length ways into the wall making sure that you cross all your joints (like with a brick or Lego wall). Each course is laid about an inch or the width of your thumb in from each other to give the Batter to the wall. Stones which are too oddly shaped or too ugly to be walled are used as fillings within the wall. The fillings are the most important part of the wall, they give it its strength, so they are always placed in carefully rather than just being thrown in, the face stones and the filling should be put on the wall at the same time. The sign of a good Waller is a neatly filled wall. If they are available Through Stones, long flat ones (sometimes slate) are put in at regular intervals to bind each side of the wall together. When the wall is at the right height it is finished with a uniform course of Top Stones, large, sometimes dressed stones which help bind each side of the wall together and protect it from frost damage.

By Ranger Richard Kirby

Work Experience National Trust Malham Tarn Estate 15th – 19th July 2013

Monday

I arrived at Malham at 8:30 am. After being introduced to some of the staff and being told I would spend the day installing some gates, I headed out with Cassie (Ranger) into Upper Wharfedale to pick up the tools we required for the day and to collect Liz and Peter, the other two rangers I would be working with that day. We then went up to the new offices to collect the posts and rails we would need to complete the day’s work. After securing the posts and rails to the back of the Mazda we set off to Redmire Wood.

After arriving at the wood the first thing we had to do was clear the overhanging branches from our site. Once this was done Peter used the angle grinder to cut off the old iron fence so we could replace it with a kissing gate. Then we had to dig a hole for the first gate post. Using a heavy pole called a bar we marked out the hole and then used shovels and a post hole digger to deepen the hole. Whilst this was being done I was sent to collect some rocks which would help hold the post in place (as these were only temporary gates they would not be cemented in). Then we put the post in the hole, followed by some rocks, using a tamper (heavy metal pole with a blunt end) we knocked the rocks into place. A layer of soil was then put onto of the rocks and that too was tampered down. We repeated this process until the hole was filled in and the post was secure.

At around 12:30 we had a break for lunch and sat in the sunshine overlooking the countryside.

Then it was back to work and time to drill holes in to the gate and fit the hinges, which involved lots of hammering and drilling. Now we could hang the gate on the post. We repeated the process with the second post but then Cassie and I had to leave in order to get back to Malham in time for 5pm, so I could have a chat with Tim about my first day and then go home.

Image

I also managed to have bit of a drive on the way home (in my own car, for safety reasons I was not allowed to drive any of the Trust’s vehicles) as I drove roughly halfway.

Tuesday

Fairly soon after arriving Rangers Roisin and Richard with Katie (other work experience girl from Settle) and I were loading up the Ford Ranger and heading to Upper Wharfedale to pick up Cassie, Liz and a quad bike. Then we headed out to Greenfields to do some fencing.

ImageFirst of all Cassie, Liz and I had to put two lengths of barbed wire on a fence at the top of a hill, after lots of cut fingers and legs and even more hammering we decided it was time to break for lunch, where we once again got to spend dinner in a beautiful location.

ImageAfter lunch we had to put some rails up over a hole in the fence, first we put the bottom rail on putting our boots underneath as a measure of the height. After hammering in four nails to secure the rail in place I had to saw the ends at 45 degree angles to improve their appearance. We repeated the same process with the other rails changing the size of the gaps between them from a boot to one rail, then a rail and a width, then two rails.

Next it was time to put two lengths of barbed wire down the other side of the fence which happened to be down a very steep slope. This made things very interesting trying to balance and not become entangled in barbed wire at the same time.

Having spent all day in the sun sawing, hammering and hauling around equipment we were all sufficiently exhausted and headed off back to Malham.

I managed to drive all the way home today braving the narrow winding roads of Malham.

Wednesday

Today we started off sorting out nails staples and screws into separate containers as they had all become mixed up. Then Liz, Tony, Katie and I headed out to check the mole traps, we found one and it was quite interesting to see one up close. They are strange looking things with huge hands, tiny tails and very soft fur.

ImageAfter that it was down to the boardwalk where Roisin, long term volunteer Bill, Katie and I got to work. Bill broke off the old boards whilst the rest of us carted them back up the hill to be disposed of. After we removed the smaller boards Katie and I carried the old runners up the hill too and then headed back up to the centre for dinner.

We were then treated to a walk along the entire length of the boardwalk with Roisin and Cassie telling us all about the flowers, frogs, dragonflies and mosses we saw along the way. My favourite plants were some tiny carnivorous plants called Sundew’s.

Image

Then we joined Liz, Cassie, Richard and Tony to get back to work. Whilst the others broke up the old boardwalk and moved away the old boards, Liz would arrange the new boards so I could drill holes in them and Katie could screw them to the runners underneath. Luckily we managed to lay all of our four sections without breaking any drill bits! Much to Tony’s delight.

ImageAfter we had finished securing the boardwalk it was back to Malham to unload the truck and then a trip to the walled garden on the way we even caught a glimpse of a deer in one of the fields. The garden was phenomenal. There was every type of vegetable (and some fruit) I could think of, just a few include: radish, tomato, cauliflower, carrot, parsnip, cabbage, lettuce, kale, gooseberries, strawberries, runner beans, peas, broccoli, courgettes and rhubarb.

I collected some lettuce, rhubarb and radish (three different types) which I later had with my tea and they were delicious, far tastier than anything bought from the shops. Finally it was back to Malham and then off home with me driving halfway.

Thursday

After applying sun cream and bug spray it was straight off down to Malham National Park Centre so Liz, Roisin, Katie and I could pick up the ladies from Hellifield WI. Once we were all loaded into the minibus we set off on a farm visit to New House Farm which is one of the National Trust’s tenant farms currently occupied by Roy and Irene. First we were joined by Peter the ecologist and then Irene took us around the wild flower meadow to look at some of the flowers that were in bloom, some included: Eye Bright, Forget Me Not and Yellow Rattle.

ImageAfter that we got a tour of the farm and Irene told us: they got the farm in 1996; the old cow sheds are now the lambing barn; the new cow shed is very spacious with just four cows to each of the four pens; they have 35 sheep and 66 lambs (should have been 88 but they lost a lot in the snow); they hand reared 13 lambs; and they have a pig called Simone. She then went on to tell us about a new scheme they have joined where they picked one type of rare breed cow to have on the farm, they chose Dexter cows which are miniature cows and apparently have calves as big as dogs!

ImageAfter dropping off the WI ladies we headed back to Malham for some dinner before heading out with Peter at around 1:30. We headed out onto the Fen by the Tarn where we were looking at a huge 2m2 quadrat which had 25 40cm x 40cm sections in it.

ImageSeen as though Katie and I didn’t know many of the plants present (let alone their Latin names!) we headed off to take some photos of other plants for Peter. We managed to find some: Melancholy Thistle, Sundew, Forget Me Not, Orchid, various mosses… The after a quick look at some fish in the Tarn we re-joined Peter who gave us some background information on the Tarn and told us how they hoped to manage it in the future. He also attempted to teach us the names of some of the mosses and grasses but unfortunately they still all look the same to me! I will definitely have to do my homework on that front.

ImageAfter a very hot afternoon it was back to Malham so I could collect my things and drive home.

Friday

Seeing as though it was my last day I decided to buy the team some chocolates and a thank you card just to say thank you for a fantastic week and for showing me the ropes. Needless to say this went down very well. Then it was off to the main office for a talk with Tim (Head Ranger) for a talk about the week and how it had all gone. Shortly after I was introduced to Tom (Events organiser) who I would be working with for the day. He briefed me on the events they do and then set me to work turning a piece of writing Peter had done into a poster. I did my first draft which was then given to Tim who asked for a few changes and some A3 copies, so after some delicious cake courtesy of Roisin it was back to work on the second draft and the A3 copy.

At 12 we headed out for some dinner with the rangers. Then I had my first experience Geocaching with Cassie, we had to go and check out the route to make sure the equipment sent people the right way! Next it was back to the office to inform Tom of some changes to the route and then time for me to apply the finishing touches to my posters.

ImageFinally after a brilliant week it was time to say my goodbyes with promises of more volunteering in the future, then for the final time I drove home.

 Taylor Middlemiss

Work Experience Student