A legacy for the trees

Heather Hunt organised Friends and family to help plant trees to commemorate Chris Hunt's life

A memorable tree planting weekend was organised by Heather Hunt and our rangers in order to commemorate the life of Chris Hunt. Read on to discover more about how a legacy donation and a hardy group of volunteers, helped us with our Clough Woodland Project.

In October 2019 we received an incredibly generous legacy donation to the Peak District Appeal to help us with our ambitious tree planting targets. The donation was made in memory of Chris Hunt who was sadly killed in 1970 whilst working for the Zambia Flying Doctor Service, at the young age of 30. Chris’s wife Heather told us more, ‘Chris had already made his mark on the world with his passion for social justice and a lover of wild nature. Chris loved the moors and cloughs of the Dark Peak landscape and we felt supporting the Clough Woodland Project was a fitting tribute to his short life well lived.” Organised by Heather, friends and family of theirs, came from near and far to celebrate the life of Chris Hunt and planted trees in his memory.  

Friends and family came from far and wide to help plant trees
Friends and family came from far and wide to help plant trees
Friends and family came from far and wide to help plant trees

In one of the wettest autumns recorded, the hardy group of volunteers spent a weekend working with our rangers Chris Millner and Matt North, planting more than 750 trees, supplied by the Woodland Trust, out on Oaken Bank and Deer Holes. Some of the species that have been planted include Holly, Rowan, Hawthorn and Silver Birch. The group started the day with more than 30 minutes of off road travel - bouncing about in land rovers, crossing fast flowing rivers, all before carrying tools, trees, stakes and tubes up steep sided valleys to help with our Clough Woodland Project; which aims to promote the restoration of our woodlands in the Dark Peak and in doing so creating more diverse habitats for wildlife and to help our woodlands be more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Oaken Bank was tragically devastated by a fire in 2016, destroying much of the trees that had colonised an area over 25 years. The tree planting that the group undertook, helped to replace some of the trees that were lost or that are likely to die in the next few years. The remainder were planted in the Deer Holes area, with species suggested by Ecologist Penny Anderson who had previously surveyed the area.

Oaken Bank was devastated by a fire four years ago
Oaken Bank was devastated by a fire four years ago
Oaken Bank was devastated by a fire four years ago

Lead Ranger Matt North said, “Heather and her team did a fantastic job working in some very wet conditions. Rangers are used to bad weather but even we felt a bit soggy when we finished! The trees planted in Chris’ memory will help re-wood the valleys below the moors and the generous donation to our Peak District Appeal will help even more.”

Eventually on Sunday afternoon, the clouds parted, and the team were able to see the full extent of the incredible landscape they were working in. The trees planted can be visited by friends, family and others when travelling past Slippery Stones and up the Derwent Valley. Heather reflected on their experience, “Chris would have loved this wild place and our contribution to its restoration.”  

The sun made a welcome appearance, whilst the group were out tree planting
The sun made a welcome appearance, whilst the group were out tree planting
The sun made a welcome appearance, whilst the group were out tree planting

The trees planted are part of the wider Clough Woodlands Project, our tree planting progress can be seen in various other areas of the Dark Peak landscape with more and more being planted across the winter seasons by our rangers and volunteers.The regeneration of native woodland in the cloughs and valley sides of the High Peak Moors are part of the National Trust’s 50-year vision for this area, aiming to create an inspirational twenty-first century landscape of restored and healthy landscapes. Our woodland restoration work will help to improve the structure and quality of biodiversity, habitats and the landscape, stabilise soil, help manage bracken, give shelter to wildlife and livestock, improve water quality, mitigate flooding events, and store carbon. You can help support this vital work by donating to our Peak District Appeal - thank you.

A family walking through the woods at Longshaw

Peak District Appeal Woods for the Future 

Our rangers and volunteers are working hard to care for over 1000 hectares of threatened and special woodland. Together, we can create the Peak District's woods for the future