Over the past month there has been a lot of change down at Gressenhall Farm as two new Landscape Management Trainees, Lee and Daniel, have joined us. Their start date signaled my movement into the final 6 months of my traineeship which has also seen me beginning my third and final placement. I have chosen to spend 3 days a week with the National Trust Ranger team at Felbrigg Hall and Sheringham Park in North Norfolk.
Even though I have only been with the National Trust team just over a month it has already given me a great insight into how their organisation works and the complexities of running such a big site! I have been involved with lots of different projects and types of work, no two days are the same which is great as each time I turn up there is something new to do. The work varies from fencing and tree work to renovating an old saw mill!
One of the biggest ongoing jobs at Felbrigg over the last few weeks has been the mowing of all of their grasslands in order to keep their growth down and control the weeds that have grown up in the fields. There are many areas that need mowing and so I have been able to lend a hand in sharing some of the work. It is very different to mowing your lawn! I have been using a multi-directional Rytek mower that is pulled by a tractor which tackle heavy vegetation and allows you to cut in areas that normal toppers and mowers would not be able to get to.
As with any conservation organisation they rely on their volunteers to help look after various sites and undertake work that would otherwise never get done, one such group maintains the National Trust site at West Runton. They meet once a week and repair anything that has broken and deal with scrub clearance and the mowing of the sites fens. It was a fantastic opportunity to work with them last week, even though it was incredibly windy so close to the coast! The work they do is so visible in making a difference to the area and I look forward to working them in the future.
With autumn closing in, the Landscape Management team has decided to practice our heritage woodland skills. After digging out an array of two man saws and axes we have been spending time felling trees in a traditional (pre-chainsaw) way. The technique of felling a tree has not changed since the days of axes and saws and so we were able to put the knowledge that we already had about tree felling and crosscutting into practice with these traditional tools. (As can be seen from the photos below).
We are going to continue using these tools and traditional methods in order for us to hone our skills and increase our knowledge about them as we believe that they should not be lost. It was great fun and we are looking forward to getting back into centenary wood soon!
See you on Apple Day!
Tom, Heritage Landscape Management Trainee.