Sunday, 25 March 2012

Dora's Field and Wordsworth's Daffodil trail

We are now in the process of getting ready for a new partnership where Dora's Field in Rydal will be opened as part of the National Garden Scheme's "Wordsworth Daffodil Legacy Trail". On Saturday 1st of April  people will be able to follow the trail from Cartmel to Carlisle with two National Trust gardens playing their part in the wonderful trail.

To celebrate both Wordsworth’s Lake District legacy and the daffodil, on 1st April 2012 seven locations throughout Cumbria are taking part in the National Gardens Scheme’s Daffodil Day. The properties involved are Holker Hall (Cark-in-Cartmel), Summerdale House (Nook), Dora’s Field (Rydal), Rydal Hall (Rydal), Acorn Bank (Temple Sowerby), High Moss (Portinscale) and Carlisle Cemetery (Richardson St, Carlisle). From 11am until 4pm they are all throwing open their gates and holding a Wordsworth Daffodil Day to allow the public to see a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils.
Dora's Field which was originally known as The Rashfield, with the name being derived from rush field, because of the damp nature of the ground which would have originally supported mainly rushes.

This plot of land was purchased from the Backhouse family by William Wordsworth in 1826 as a defence strategy. The Wordsworth's were tenants of Lady Anne le Flemming at Rydal Mount situated behind Dora's Field from May 1813. In 1825 Lady Anne announced her intention of giving the tenancy of Rydal Mount to a relative. Under threat of eviction, and desperate not to be forced away from the idyllic Rydal, William purchased the field and made it clear to Lady le Fleming his intention of building on the field in what ever way he wished (this would have been right in the view from Rydal Mount). George Webster, a famous Kendal architect, was even paid to draw up a design.

In the event, this contingency plan was not needed as the threat was withdrawn. The family retained the field and it was given to Dora, Williams daughter.When Dora tragically died William, his wife and their gardener  planted hundreds of Daffodil bulbs in her memory.
The field (0.6ha) was gifted to the National Trust by Gordon Wordsworth in 1935 for the benefit of the public.  The National Trust now maintains the paths and prevents the open areas from returning to woodland and losing the open views.  Several benches are situated around the garden to allow visitors time to pause for a moment amid the hectic rush of life. 
 Volunteers helping resurfacing the paths
Crushed slate is used from our local quarry in Elterwater 
 Fallen limbs from trees are stacked to create a habitat pile for beetles, spiders and other small Fauna
The Chapel of St Mary at Rydal was funded by Lady Le Fleming of Rydal Hall, with work starting in 1823 and being completed the following year. Wordsworth helped choose the church site which was located just down the hill from his home, Rydal Mount,  and was originally the Le Fleming orchard. A tower, nave, and chancel make up the church, which has seen repairs and renovations during the 20th century.

So if you're in the Rydal area on the 1st April, then please call in to Dora's field and say "Hello", we will have volunteers and National Trust Rangers on site to answer any questions and talk about the history and management of this wonderful location.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Nordic Walking..........ever wanted to give it a go?

Well here is your chance. The National Trust Grasmere Ranger Team, with the help of Debbie Jackman, nordic walking instructor, and Nordic Walking UK, are giving you the chance to try this rapidly growing sport, as part of our Grasmere Gallop 2012. Go to for full details, including your chance to try a `taster session` absolutely free.

Friday, 16 March 2012

I wandered lonely as a cloud

On the 15th of April 1802 William and Dorothy Wordsworth were travelling back to Grasmere after staying the night at Eusmere in Pooley Bridge and in doing so came across the daffodils that inspired William to write the poem "I wondered lonely as a cloud". It was Dorothy that wrote in the Grasmere Journal how they had seen the daffodils under the boughs of trees and among the rocks on the lakeshore and William then wrote the poem in 1804. The daffodils can still be seen today in the same place near to Glencoyne car park on the shores of Ullswater, they are early this year and are just about out so if you want to see them you had better come in the next couple of weeks or so.

Every January before the daffodils start to come through, we clear the brambles and dead bracken so the daffs can be seen in thier glory.

    I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o'er vales and hills when all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils.

Beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

William Wordsworth was a frequent visitor to the Ullwater area and wrote three poems about Aira Force the most well known being the "The Somnambulist" an ancient tale of Knightly love and death.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Langdale to London....and back again.

Now, I`m prepared to bet good money that you were not expecting to read an article about a National Trust property in London on this blog. Let me explain.

The Blewcoat School, located in the heart of London, moments from St. James` Park and Westminster, is a coffee shop with a difference. Managed by Janet, this beautiful Georgian building has an amazing history. That it survived the war and pressures of development, right in the centre of Westminster, is a story in itself.

Janet and her brilliant team (including Rosanne, NT Council and Volunteer) have the ambition to produce the best sandwich in London. By my reckoning, something that they have already achieved! With free Wi Fi for all customers, this really is a little of oasis of calm in the centre of the city. 

We are building links between our two properties, sharing information and promoting events for each other. Judging by the number of `hits` on the Grasmere Gallop web site, from the London area, then this is already proving to be really successful. 

The Blewcoats School, Westminster. The best coffee shop in London!

So, if you find yourself in London this year, perhaps for the Jubilee celebrations, the Olympic Games or just sightseeing, please call in and say hello to Janet and her team. Say that the Grasmere & Langdale Rangers sent you.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Hedge laying

During the last few weeks here in Ullswater we have been laying a hedge that we planted 15 years ago. This work involves cutting back some of the side branches and then cutting most of the way through the stem of the tree and laying it down flat on the ground and from this lots of new shoots will grow up to create a new hedge. This hedge consists of Hawthorn,Blackthorn, Hazel and some Willow and once it is layed it will provide great habitat for nesting birds.

  The hedge before we started

Laying in progress
Close up of a layed hedge.

The finished job.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Aira Force in full force

Aira Force is a popular tourist attraction but most visitors come during the summer when there is little water in the beck. So here is a clip of the water fall in full force after a lot of rain and a quick thaw of snow off the fells. It is the highest I've seen it!

Aira Force in full cry!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Grand Fir of Skelghyll Woods

Our Rangers in the Lake District have discovered the tallest tree of its kind in England growing in one of their woodlands. The Grand Fir, which stands at 57.8m high, has now been crowned the tallest tree in Cumbria and the tallest Grand Fir in England. 

The Grand Fir of Skelghyll Woods
Officials from the Tree Register, the body which keeps a record of the UK’s notable and ancient specimens, have confirmed the Fir’s giant status. Lead Ranger John Pring had called in specialist arboriculturists to help him measure the tree’s dizzy heights - and also decided to capture the experience on video, with the help of Dreamtime Film, an award-winning Cumbrian film company.

The Grand Fir was planted in around 1860 as part of an arboretum at the Wansfell Holme country estate. The area is now known as Skelghyll Woods and is a mixed oak woodland with the addition of a small selection of conifers. John said: “A survey 20 years ago suggested that some of these trees were going to get really big. We decided to get them resurveyed this year and Toby Fisher, a local forestry consultant, kept coming back with the same figure for this tree. We knew it was something special and decided to get it more accurately measured. “It really is a rather splendid specimen so it was great news when it was confirmed as the tallest tree of its kind in the country, as well as the tallest of all the trees in Cumbria.”

Mark Sigrist and Mick Lupton of Aspen Tree Management scaled the tree, then used a long badminton pole to reach the top of the tree’s highest branches where they weren’t able to climb. They also placed a camera at the top for some time-lapse photography and to record the amazing views across Windermere and beyond. John said: “I’ve worked with Mark and Mick on numerous occasions and they are used to me asking them for weird and wonderful things!  Not so long ago I sent them to the top of some lime trees armed with a freezer bag and a pair of scissors to snip the top shoots, known as ‘sun leaves’, for a research project. They’re more used to carrying chain saws up trees than little pairs of scissors!”

At 57.8m or 189.6ft, the Skelghyll Grand Fir is higher than Nelson’s Column (51.59m) and taller than a dozen double decker buses stacked on top of each other.

If, as thought, it was planted in 1860, that was the year Charles Dickens published his first installment of Great Expectations, Britain produced 20% of the world’s output of industrial goods, JM Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan was born, and the Pony Express mail delivery service was launched in Missouri.

The Grand Fir, or Abies Grandis, originated in Canada and is widely seen across North America. The tallest tree in the whole of the UK is a Grand Fir, located in Argyll, which stands at 211ft (64m).

See the film footage of the measuring of Skelghyll’s Grand Fir