Winter with the National Trust

With the weather finally beginning to get colder it’s starting to really feel like winter! And even though we’re half way through it winter has already been a very busy season, especially during my work with the National Trust in North Norfolk. The work has been varied and very exciting and I continue to learn so much new information every time work with the Ranger team at Felbrigg and Sheringham.

The storms! As most of you will know, the North Norfolk coast was hit particularly hard by the high winds and storm surge that struck England over Christmas. The National trust properties at Felbrigg and Blakeney weren’t spared from the damage. When the storm surge flooded the coastline it left a rather large trail of destruction that will take many months if not years in some places to recover. Debris was washed up and dumped far inland and has changed the face of natural areas dramatically. The Ranger team that I work with on my placement at Felbrigg Hall was called upon by the team at Blakeney Point to lend a hand to help clear up the worst of the damage. The photos below show the extent and the power of the surge. You can see how much material was actually brought up and dumped onto the mainland and how strong the water must have been to pick up the boat and dump it on the coastal path!

This level of debris being washed up is a common picture along the North Norfolk coast

This level of debris being washed up is a common picture along the North Norfolk coast

The coastline was littered with stricken boats such as this

The coastline was littered with stricken boats such as this

It was not only the storm surges that caused the damage but high winds also had an affect with several large trees being brought down in the gusts! With several of them posing a hazard to visitors to the park it was the Rangers’ responsibility to deal with them and make them safe. Two members of the ranger team and myself had to deal with a tree that had fallen over and got itself stuck in another tree and so using ropes, chains and a big tractor we managed to pull it out and make it safe. As you can see from the pictures the tree was fairly large and fairly well hung up which made our job just that little bit more difficult but when it came out it did so with a big satisfying crash!

me with tree

tree

It has not all been doom and gloom at the National Trust over the winter period, I have been kept busy with lots of other work and projects. These have ranged from fencing around the old farm pond, planting new oak trees and installing cattle proof guards around them, scrub management at West Runton heath and setting fire to large bonfires on the Felbrigg heathland site!

Josh and Claire using the tractor mounted post-rammer at Felbrigg

Josh and Claire using the tractor mounted post-rammer at Felbrigg

With all of the jobs that I have done over this period with the National Trust there was one which was my favourite. This was the installation of a memorial bench on the top of Incleborough Hill. I enjoyed putting this together because we were building something that was to celebrate and commemorate someone’s life and so we had to take great care of the bench components when bringing them to the site. Carrying them to the top of the hill along a rough track without dropping or scuffing them was rather interesting. We then carried out the installation with the same care and made sure everything was perfect before we finished. We were all very proud of our work that day!

The bench is actually level it’s the camera angle that was wonky!

The bench is actually level it’s the camera angle that was wonky!

I will continue to work alongside the Rangers at the National Trust right up until the end of my traineeship and I look forward to whatever it is that lays ahead in the next few months.

Tom Watson

Heritage Landscape Management Trainee

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