Sunshine & Showers: Stories from the Great Outdoors

Matthew Bevan, Ranger Matthew Bevan Ranger
bush hogging in lowndes wood

Thanks to the unpredictability of the British weather our Outdoors team have been busy mowing the lawns to keep the Italianate garden looking its best, as the Ranger team head out into the woods to open up the rides.

The Summer sees us get out our tractor with a ‘Bush-hog’ attachment on the back, which is basically a big mower! In June we will do a single strip cut along the woodland rides as a path for walkers, as some of the less used tracks would soon get overgrown. Later in the summer we then do another central cut and also cut some of the woodland glades and ride edges on rotation. The Bush-Hog is a pretty robust machine, with the rotary blade having to deal with uneven ground and hidden stumps!

With all the leaf on the trees, branches can start to encroach on paths making it hard for walkers and cyclists to get past.  With the help of our volunteers we prune back overhanging branches and remove smaller regrowth from the edge which also lets more light in and should dry out the path slightly. Even in the torrential rain our hardy Tuesday volunteer group still had a smile at the end of a morning’s work.

We also use this time of year to do a lot of the general maintenance around the estate; repairing gates and fences, track repairs, and building boardwalks. Our Boardwalk down towards the Fairy Lake has been in place for a few years now and gets a lot of use. The initial bridge section had seen better days with many of the timbers beginning to rot in the wet conditions so we decided to take it all apart and rebuild it, with the help of our volunteers. We used Oak all milled from trees felled at Ickworth which means it should last a long time!

Volunteer rangers on the completed bridge at Ickworth
Volunteers with final board walk
Volunteer rangers on the completed bridge at Ickworth