National Trust puts cider apples at its core

George Holmes, Area Ranger in South Somerset, planting a cider tree from the collection (c) Steve Haywood

An internationally important collection of cider apples, with almost 300 different varieties, has been given to the National Trust and will be planted in orchards at Montacute House, Barrington Court, Tyntesfield and Glastonbury in Somerset, Golden Cap in Dorset, Westbury Court Garden in Gloucestershire, Killerton in Devon and Brockhampton in Herefordshire. Continue reading…

New film illustrates benefits of Stonehenge road tunnel for World Heritage Site, people and wildlife

screen grab 2A year ago today (1 December 2014) the Government announced that it would be investing in a fully bored tunnel of at least 2.9km to remove a large part of the existing A303 from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. To mark the first anniversary of this announcement, Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage have produced a short film illustrating the difference that the removal of the A303 and the construction of a tunnel of at least 2.9km long could make to the Stonehenge landscape, its wildlife and nature and to those who wish to enjoy, explore, and understand the World Heritage Site.
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UNESCO and ICOMOS visit Stonehenge World Heritage Site – Government invites international heritage organisations to view A303 tunnel proposal

Visitors walking in the Stonehenge Landscape, Wiltshire. The landscape is studded with ancient monuments.

Visitors walking in the Stonehenge Landscape, Wiltshire. The landscape is studded with ancient monuments.

Following an invitation from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, ICOMOS, advisors to the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation will visit the Stonehenge World Heritage Site this week (27-30 October) and familiarise themselves with the site and the Government’s proposal for a new road tunnel of at least 2.9km to remove much of the A303 from the Stonehenge landscape. Continue reading…

UK’s Largest Fly Found in South Devon

Hornet Robberfly found at Bolt Head. Picture by Rob Wolton,

Hornet Robberfly found at Bolt Head. Picture by Rob Wolton,

A survey of the National Trust farm at East Soar by a local group turned up more than was expected.

The Hornet robberfly (Asilus crabroniformis) was discovered by local entomologists, and has not been recorded on the site since before 2000. The fly, the UK’s largest predatory species, is nationally scarce and rapidly declining due to loss of habitat and a lack of grazing in coastal areas.

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Views from Wellington Monument to be re-established

Wellington Monument

Wellington Monument on the Blackdown Hills in Somerset.

The National Trust plans to re-open spectacular views across the Taunton Vale by removing trees from the upper slopes of the Wellington Monument site in response to local opinion.

Nigel Garnsworthy, Countryside Manager, says: ‘The most frequent comment we get about the site is that it’s a real shame people can no longer benefit from the views that reach across to Exmoor and the Quantock Hills.  We’re really pleased now to respond to what local people want.’

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First trip of Brownsea Seahorse

Launch of the National Trust's Brownsea Seahorse, a new landing craft operating a service for disabled visitors to Brownsea Island from Sandbanks Yacht Company slipway.
Dennis Medlycott wanted to visit Brownsea Island. It was a simple ambition but, since he depends on his electric wheelchair to get about, he could not get onto the boats taking visitors to the island. When he heard that we were about to trial a new boat, ‘Brownsea Seahorse’, which would be able to take disabled visitors to the island, Dennis offered his advice and came to try out the first service. Here he tells his own story of that first trip to the island:

It’s a dream come true that I am actually here in my electric wheelchair on Brownsea Island.
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The summer rain adds some sparkle to Killerton cider

Pictures by Steven Haywood of Killerton's apples for Apple Week celebrations on 17th & 18th October at Killerton - Pictured is Emma Wakeham and Killerton's latest edition to the team 'Puppy springer spaniel TOBY! having fun in the orchard

Pictures by Steven Haywood of Killerton’s apples for Apple Week celebrations on 17th & 18th October at Killerton – Pictured is Emma Wakeham and Killerton’s latest edition to the team ‘Puppy springer spaniel Toby having fun in the orchard

August was a rainy month for tourists and locals but there was one upside to the downpours however; the wet weather has made for a bumper crop of apples in the National Trust orchards at Killerton and the trees are heavy with fruit ready to be made into cider.

2014 was a memorable summer, but an apple crop to forget, producing only 3,000 litres of cider. But this year the trees are so full that the National Trust hopes to double its production.

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Nationally important bat roost discovered at Penrose

Greater Horseshoe Bat picture taken by Daniel Hargreaves

Greater Horseshoe Bat picture taken by Daniel Hargreaves

The Greater Horseshoe bat has established a nursery roost in a disused barn on the National Trust’s Penrose estate this summer.

This endangered bat only numbers approximately 5000 individuals in the UK and is restricted to the mild climates of south west England and south Wales. This new site is only the 5th and most southerly recorded nursery roost for this species in Cornwall and is of national conservation importance.

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Retracing the past with new orchard

Tyntesfield Orchard (c) National Trust Peter Hall

Over the next five years Tyntesfield in Wraxall, near Bristol, will see in the region on 350 fruit trees planted as the estate seeks to reconnect with its rich food growing past.

Already well underway, this major conservation project will see staff, volunteers and visitors building tree guards and planting hedgerows, whilst also learning how to prune and care for the trees on the National Trust estate. The team will harvest a range of fruits, deliver workshops and produce cider, apple juice and other products.

Planting will be spread over the course of the project, with the first batch of trees already in place. The new orchard will be split into two sections, with five acres of heritage apples and six acres of cider and juice apples, set out in a traditional spacing framework. The heritage orchard will act as a gene bank for local Somerset and Bristol fruit varieties, such as Summer Stibbert and Poor Man’s Profit, which date back to the 1830s. The area will be managed using traditional methods providing excellent conservation benefits, with swathes of wildflowers, diverse habitats of dead wood and wild areas.

In the cider and juice area there will be a more linear approach to planting as yield and accessibility will be important, and this part of the orchard will be managed with the help of grazing sheep. The estate will be planting cider and juice varieties such as Yarlington Mill and Porters Perfection, which will be transformed into bottled drinks with the aim of them being available to buy from the Tyntesfield estate shop.

As the orchard project progresses, Bristol based schools, growing projects, city farms, and local residents will be able to get involved by learning skills in grafting, pruning and plant care, and by taking part in events and workshops.

Janine Connor, a Ranger at Tyntesfield said: ‘This exciting project will not only improve nature conservation and biodiversity, but will help us build relationships with local communities and eventually generate income for further conservation. We are looking to grow a mix of traditional and modern varieties of apple and pear, as well as plum, crab apple, medlars and quinces. The orchard is open to visitors to walk around, and is currently filled with beautiful wildflowers.’

Janine and the team at Tyntesfield are following in the footsteps of the estate’s Victorian owner Antony Gibbs who presided over 3000 acres of arable, pasture farmland and orchards. He built Home Farm, introduced cattle to the estate and pursued the latest developments in agricultural technology. Today the estate looks after 540 acres of gardens, woodland, parkland and arable, which are open to visitors 364 days a year.