June: Hay Meadows

Area Ranger Paul Farrington showing our Outdoor Visitor Experience team the work that's been happening on hay meadows

Members of our Outdoor Visitor Experience team joined Area Ranger Paul Farrington for a look around Blelham Tarn, to understand more about meadow restoration and managing farmland.

The UK has lost over 97% of its meadows since the 1930s, leading to a severe decline in many bird and butterfly species.  Here in the Lake District our rangers are working hard with farmers to look after our meadows and encourage biodiversity on working farms.

Step back in time

Hay meadows are some of the earliest managed habitats in UK, being regularly cut for haymaking, with evidence that this practice dates back to the 2nd century. Hay meadows have been cut to provide food or fodder for livestock.

A beautiful hay meadow at Hill Top farm, Near Sawrey

A haven for wildlife

As well as their significance in farming, the vast mixture of wildflowers and grasses provides a huge food and nectar supply for bumblebees, birds and butterflies. The long grassland provides valuable cover for nesting birds like the endangered curlew and mammals such as brown hares.

Working in partnership to restore meadows

Today, National Trust rangers are working with local farmers to try to conserve hay meadows in the Lake District and create new ones wherever possible. By using the seed rich ‘green hay’, or in some cases ‘plug planting’ of hay meadow flowers to produce a new seed source, the Trust hopes to kick start this restoration. In reducing the use of fertilisers and waiting until late summer to cut the meadows there is more time for different flower and grass species to thrive and grow.

If you're interested in finding out more about hay meadows, join us at one of our events for National Meadows Day in the Lake District this Saturday, 7 July.