Discover a different atmosphere at Buttermere

Burtness wood in Buttermere will be restored to Wordsworth’s vision © Maurice Pankhurst

Burtness wood in Buttermere will be restored to Wordsworth’s vision

If you do the ‘round-the-lake’ walk at Buttermere this spring, you’ll see that our forestry and ranger teams have been very busy in Burtness woods, our woodland on the south west side of the lake.

Last year the forestry team removed five hectares (12 acres) of mature spruce between the lakeshore and the upper fell wall, and the rangers and volunteers spent January and February planting 3,000 saplings in the cleared area.

The effect is really dramatic. Before the work, the path wound through mature spruce trees and felt quiet and enclosed with glimpses of the lake and the fells on the far side. Now it’s got a completely different atmosphere – the area is open and light, and as the sunlight gets to a wide space of forest floor for the first time in 60 years we can expect woodland wildflowers and low-growing plants to make the most of the light, while the saplings will start to peep above their tree tubes within the next couple of years.

Returning to Wordsworth’s vision

The papers for Burtness Wood show that the 19th century landowner, a member of the influential Marshall family who had houses at Derwent Island and Tarn Hows, consulted the poet laureate William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy about his plans to plant trees along the shore of Buttermere. The Wordsworths strongly urged Marshall to plant native species, but he decided to go for the more profitable softwoods. Now, 150 years later, we are finally able to return to the poet’s vision for the valley. The saplings that we’ve planted are aspen, oak, sycamore, rowan and cherry. As they mature they will start to create a completely different look and feel along our ‘side’ of Buttermere. We've used tree tubes to give the saplings every chance of success and protect them from sheep which sometimes break into the woodland.

Discover the difference for yourself

Why not come and see the difference for yourself? If you walk clockwise round the lake from the village you’ll be able to get a good view of the work from the opposite shore before you walk through the woodland and experience the openness. This will also help you avoid the closed permissive path along the village ‘end’ of the lake which is closed during the sandpiper nesting season each spring.

For directions, buy our Rangers’ Guide to Buttermere from Croft Farm café.