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Our work at Horsey Windpump and Heigham Holmes

Woodland close to Horsey Windpump, Norfolk
Woodland close to Horsey Windpump | © National Trust Images / Justin Minns

Discover how the small but dedicated team of rangers and volunteers care for the special landscape around Horsey Windpump and Heigham Holmes. Learn about some of the work we carry out all through the year to keep this unique place in top condition for visitors and wildlife alike.

Woodland management at Horsey Willows

Over winter, the rangers and volunteers at Horsey Windpump pollard the willows in the car park at Horsey. This is a woodland management method that encourages the tree to send out more side shoots. The practice was common throughout medieval Europe and continues today as a way of keeping trees at a certain height.

Traditionally, pollarding would be carried out either for firewood or to provide food for livestock. Today pollarded willow can be used in a variety of ways, such as in basket weaving, to make fences and hurdles, or in larger constructions such as the tunnel and arbour at Horsey.

The thinner willow whips from Horsey are used in the garden at neighbouring National Trust site Felbrigg. The team comes once a year to harvest the willow that they will need for the coming year.

Hawthorn blossom in May near Shermore Brook at Hatfield Forest, Essex.
Hawthorn blossom | © National Trust Images/David Levenson

Hedge planting for wildlife on Heigham Holmes

Hedgerows provide habitat for mammals, birds and insect species. They act as wildlife corridors, allowing dispersal between isolated habitats.

At Heigham Holmes the team have worked to plant new hedgerow, which is a mixture of hawthorn, blackthorn, buckthorn and guelder rose. When the hedge is established, this mix of species gives invertebrates and birds food and shelter all year round. These species were also chosen because they will eventually also act as a natural fence, capable of withstanding cattle.

Hawthorn and buckthorn are amongst the first plants to send out blossom in the spring, making them a good choice for any hedge. Creating the hedgerow also contributes to our goal of increasing the number of nectar sources available to the invertebrate communities that live there.

Checking for damage

We check the hedgerow frequently and replace any damaged shoots while they're growing. We also use biodegradable protective planters to help discourage natural foragers such as deer from nibbling on the shoots when the hedgerow is first planted.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

Sprigs of bright purple bell heather against a blue sky on the Yorkshire coast.


Everyone needs nature, now more than ever. Donate today and you could help people and nature to thrive at the places we care for.

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