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.

Minchinhampton Common

Minchinhampton Common, Gloucestershire. (C)National Trust Images/David Noton.

Minchinhampton Common, Gloucestershire. (C)National Trust Images/David Noton.

The National Trust has introduced licencing for events and activities on its land in Gloucestershire. This will allow all commercial operators and charities who wish to use our land to be reassured they have the correct legal permissions for their events. As part of this we did licence a walk held in aid of Longfield. Continue reading…

Fingle Woods on track thanks to Granite and Gears investment

picture credit: WTML/Paul Moody

picture credit: WTML/Paul Moody

Visitors to Fingle Woods are now able to make use of a new 6km cycle track through the woods thanks to a £128,000 investment from Devon County Council and Dartmoor National Park Authority (NPA).

The track, constructed by Tim Cox Services, is the first of many improvements to the visitor infrastructure from the Woodland Trust and National Trust, which jointly maintain the 825 acre site in the Teign Valley.

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Killerton badger vaccination project shows potential

The National Trust revealed today that it had slashed the costs of vaccinating badgers during a four year project at its Killerton estate in Devon, set in the heart of one of the country’s bovine TB hotspots.

The aim of the project, funded by the conservation charity, was to demonstrate that the vaccination of badgers at an estate-wide scale can be made practical and cost-effective. This has meant that the National Trust can play an important part in reducing the exposure of cattle to bovine TB in wildlife, which has had a devastating impact across the farming community.

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Ewe has five times the charm this Easter

Flora and Verity Sharpe with Arlington's quintuplets

Flora and Verity Sharpe with Arlington’s quintuplets

The team at Arlington Court have just welcome five new lambs to their flock – all from the same ewe.

National Trust Ranger, Murray Sharpe says, “This is the first time in the 15 years I have worked at Arlington that one of our ewes has had five lambs. Despite the eighteen hour days, I always enjoy lambing, but this year it was a real joy to have five healthy lambs born at once.”

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Nature: This general election’s missing issue?

A view of Gribbin Head, Cornwall taken from Coombe. The daymark visible on the far cliff top is used as a navigation aid by shipping.

A view of Gribbin Head, Cornwall taken from Coombe. The daymark visible on the far cliff top is used as a navigation aid by shipping.

The National Trust, RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts are calling on people across the West Country to put nature at the heart of debate in the run up to May’s General Election and encourage candidates to support nature.

Together the three charities have produced South West Nature 2015 – a new website that details landscapes, wildlife and the issues these face, across all 55 Westminster constituencies in the south west. Continue reading…