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Our work in Windermere - land management that works for people and nature

View from Queen Adelaide's Hill looking out over lake Windermere
Queen Adelaide's Hill is a great spot to see the views out over lake Windermere | © National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

Windermere is a busy tourist destination with the largest local community in the Lake District National Park. In Windermere the National Trust owns a number of small farms, numerous pockets of countryside, several patches of lakeshore and the Footprint building. This patchwork of land presents us with an opportunity to protect, restore and create spaces for nature that benefit wildlife and people on a landscape scale.

Together with the help of our neighbours, the local community and our partners we can create opportunities for sustainable farming and farm diversification, find more space for nature, build climate resilience and offer great experiences in the outdoors.

About Windermere

Windermere welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year coming to enjoy its amazing walks, heritage and to access England’s largest lake. The Trust is a major landowner in Windermere with jigsaw pieces of land set within the wider landscape. Windermere is a varied mix of bustling urban spaces, low-level fells & lakeshore parks, farmland and isolated pockets of rich wildlife habitat.

  • Windermere is a hotspot for some rare and endangered species including, white clawed crayfish, touch me not balsam, netted carpet moths, duke of burgundy butterflies and rare breed albion cattle.
  • Windermere is England’s largest lake, concerns have been raised about the health of the lake, in particular algal blooms and bacterial pollution.
  • There are pockets of land in Windermere that are exceptionally rich in biodiversity providing great habitats for wildlife, but there’s lots more land that could be more nature friendly and easier for people to access and enjoy.

Our aims

Increase the climate resilience measures that are in place throughout the catchment, including creating new wood pasture, restoring meadows and grasslands and creating ponds.

Work with our neighbours, tenant farms, partners and the local community to create wildlife habitats that are bigger, better and more joined up.

Make it easier for people to get out and enjoy the outdoors and inspire the local community to love and care for the natural world around them.

What we've achieved so far

View from Queen Adelaide's Hill looking out over lake Windermere
Queen Adelaide's Hill is a great spot to see the views out over lake Windermere | © National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

Tree planting on Queen Adelaide’s Hill

In 2023 our Rangers planted 500 trees, a mixture of hawthorn, oak, birch, cherry, rowan, holly, blackthorn and hazel, at Queen Adelaide’s Hill. As they grow these trees will provide space for wildlife to thrive and help intercept rainfall run-off into the lake, playing a small part in improving water quality overall. We also took the decision to remove grazing from Queen Adelaide’s Hill. It is a very popular place to walk and picnic, rightly so as the views from here across Windermere are super. As well as making the site a more welcoming place to visit, removing grazing has allowed the grass sward to grow longer and the wildflower patches to spread – great news for wildlife.

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Plans for 2024

  • Planting out rare fruit trees at Common farm in partnership with South Lakeland Orchard Group
  • Working with the local community to explore how we can make our outdoor spaces more welcoming and easy to access
  • Planting 14,000 trees including; 500 trees in wood pasture at Moor How, 13,000 trees at Common Farm and 400 more on Queen Adelaide’s Hill
  • Undertaking butterfly and moth surveys at Moor How and High Lickbarrow
  • Creating ponds at Common farm as part of a natural flood management scheme
  • Planting out newly propagated dyers greenweed plants at High Lickbarrow
  • Welcoming more school groups to learn about land management and nature conservation at Common farm
  • Planning to create new walking routes up onto Orrest Head, Bannerigg summit and through the wider Crosthwaite estate

Why is this work important?

Climate change is the single biggest threat to the places we care for. The very reasons we love the Lake District; wildlife, lakes, woodlands, historic buildings, gardens and parklands are all under threat. From protecting and planting trees to slowing the flow of water from the fells, helping people, heritage and nature adapt to a changing climate is at the heart of everything we do.

More trees, hedges and wood pasture – Trees are one of our best natural defences against climate change, they clean the air we breathe, lock up carbon as they grow, slow down the flow of rainwater on the fells and provide homes for wildlife.

Healthier meadows and grassland – Since the 1930s, over 97 per cent of the UK’s hay meadows have disappeared, taking with them vital habitats and food sources for wildlife. In addition to their beauty, these grasses, flowers and herbs provide shelter and food for bees and butterflies plus birds, hedgehogs and bats which feed on insects.

More ponds – In the Lakes we are already feeling the impact of changing weather patterns such as storms, droughts, floods and rising temperatures. Natural flood management measures such as introducing ponds, scrapes and wetlands can slow and store water, reducing run-off, increasing flood resilience, enhancing habitats and biodiversity and improving water quality.

Conservation grazing – Choosing which animal to graze each place takes careful consideration. Cows for example can be excellent conservation grazers in grassland. By eating the longer grass, cows help to create space for the less competitive, sensitive plants, allowing them to thrive. This, in turn, attracts all kinds of insects and wildlife.

How can you get involved?

Just by visiting our places, parking in our car parks and drinking tea in our cafes you are supporting the work we do. However, if you want to get more involved you can volunteer, help plant trees or donate to one of our appeals.

We are hoping to plan some events to take place later this year, from tree planting to habitat surveys. Check out Windermere Events for the latest information on events and activities taking place.

Windermere has a wonderfully dedicated and passionate team of volunteers and we’re always looking to grow our volunteer numbers. If you’d like to know more about how you can volunteer, email us.

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