Behind the scenes – a timeline for our first twelve months at Thorneythwaite

View of Seathwaite Valley in Borrowdale, Lake District

When we heard that Thorneythwaite was coming on the market we knew it was a once in a generation opportunity.

Our assessment of the land showed that the wood pasture and traditional hay meadows were at risk of further deterioration, if not complete loss, within 100 years. With a limited amount of money available, we made the decision that the greatest threat was to the land, so that's what we prioritised.  

The vendors opted to split the house from the land, giving a total price tag that was more than our funds. After the purchase it was suggested that we weren’t intending to farm the land, but that was never the case.

These were the milestones in our first twelve months: finding out more about the land at Thorneythwaite and listening to the farming community in Borrowdale about how we can work with them. Scroll down to see what went on in our first year there.

But the work doesn't stop just because the first year's over - follow us on Twitter @NTNorthLakes to find out what we've been up to since then.

Latest updates

14 Oct 17

Autumn colour in the wood pasture

Autumn brings colour to the birch trees on the steep north-facing slopes of the wood pasture. The fact we've relaxed the grazing on this part of the farm means the sward has been able to grow longer and more luxuriant, and the grasses have been able to flower and set seed. Compared to the tight, short sward that was here one year ago, the changes to the way we're managing the land are already starting to show on the ground. We've had really heavy rain this week, and more to come on Monday. In future years, the longer vegetation on these steep slopes will help to slow the flow of water into the river Derwent, to help reduce flooding risk downstream - watch our Slowing the Flow video to find out more.

birch tree with yellow leaves on steep slope with mountains in background

02 Oct 17

local memories of wildflowers in Borrowdale

Billy Bland, keen cyclist and current holder of the record for the Bob Graham Round (running 42 peaks in under 14 hours) has lived in Borrowdale all his life. He remembers collecting and identifying wildflowers in the valley while a pupil at Borrowdale school. He's shared his memories of the wildflowers that he remembers in the valley to help inform our work to restore the haymeadows and wood pasture at Thorneythwaite.

26 Sep 17

Wild apples ripen in the wood pasture

The wild apple trees that were in blossom in May (see the update from then) are now bearing fruit. Lakeland farmsteads often have at least one crab apple tree nearby, but to have a whole 'orchard' like this is unusual. One suggestion is that this might show that pigs were raised at Thorneythwaite in the past, and the crab apple harvest was used as autumn forage for the animals.

small green crab apples clustered on branches with mountains behind