20th September 2017
Northumberland is the best of counties, and the Coquet valley one of its finest landscapes. We were in Cragside for the day, lending a hand with raking cut grass from a double stretch of wild flower meadow, and loading it onto tractor-pulled trailers to go off somewhere or other to become compost for the estate gardeners. There were twelve of us Gibside volunteers plus Ranger Dan. There were seven volunteers in the Cragside team plus three rangers one of whom – another Ranger Dan – used to work at Gibside. And that’s the link. The plan is for them to visit Gibside later in the year and return the favour.
|Steve at work|
It is claimed that when inventor and industrialist William Armstrong planted out his huge estate at Cragside, it considerably changed the climate of the nearby village of Rothbury. You can see why. Much of this would have been sheep-grazed open moorland. Mr and Mrs Armstrong – later Lord and Lady – created lakes and craggy gardens, and planted seven million trees. These days the trees are managed by a small team of foresters, and the rest of the wild landscape by the three rangers and their volunteer helpers. At Gibside, woodland and other habitats are all managed as one, which seems a more cohesive approach. But what do we know?
|Loading the trailer|
Whilst we toiled in the fields, one of the rangers - the female of the species, of course - popped off and returned with lashings of tea and coffee, and heaps of cakes and biscuits. So, there we sat, tired but happy, beside a half-laden hay wagon, overlooking Tumbleton Lake in the pale sunshine of a late summer’s day. Not quite Cider with Rosie, or The Darling Buds of May, but it’ll do.
With enough of us to make light work of a big job, we were done by mid-afternoon. The teams went their various ways, and we bloggers meandered around the estate to pause for a while beside Nellie’s Moss Lake. Autumn had begun to touch the trees: a reminder that the leaves will have started to fall on the Avenue at Gibside, and there’ll be more raking to be done.
|2 Views of Nellie's Moss Lake|
|The Gibside Team|
Steve Wootten & Phil Coyne