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Project

Wilder Wallington – a place that works for people and nature

Orange tip butterfly in the wildflower meadow at Wallington
Orange tip butterfly in the wildflower meadow at Wallington | © Emily Johnson

Wallington has big ambitions. The team of staff, volunteers, tenants, partners and the local community are aiming high and setting out to achieve critical nature-renewal across this vast 5321 ha estate and beyond. We’re teaming up with our neighbours to make things bigger, better and more joined up so people and nature can thrive together. As the largest intact Estate owned by the National Trust (2% of the total land holding), the opportunity to make a real difference is one that cannot be ignored.

About Wallington

Wallington is a culturally rich landscape, shaped by its legacy as an agricultural estate. In many ways the setting of the Wallington Estate, with its amazing views, walks, castle, woodlands and lakes, was Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan’s greatest gift when he left the entire estate to the National Trust in 1941. He was a passionate advocate of the great outdoors and the right to roam. The plan has always been to share this passion, along with our knowledge for looking after nature, with visitors and supporters as well as connecting the house and its extraordinary collection with the wider estate.

Many iconic species such as red squirrel, bats, raptors, and the white clawed crayfish call Wallington home, and conservation projects are underway to support and protect these species.

The extensive estate is a jigsaw piece within the wider Northumberland landscape. The National Trust is working with others, including Northumberland National Park, Hepple Estate, Naturally Native project, Wild Intrigue, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Middleton North Estate, Groundwork NE, Tyne Rivers Trust and Forestry England Kirkharle, to make an impact on a much bigger scale. It’s set to be a busy year for those involved with ambitious plans for 2023 including:

  • Bringing rivers back to life by helping to slow the flow of water and alleviate flooding, repairing banks, creating new habitats for wildlife and tackling the rise of invasive non-native species through the Wansbeck Restoration for Climate Change project This project will be delivered in conjunction with a number of difference partners.

  • Re-introducing important native species such as beavers and encouraging the migration of pine martens from a population established just north of the estate, in partnership with the Vincent Wildlife Trust, which will help increase biodiversity to the area.

  • This past winter, just under 40,000 trees were planted, building on the 75,000 trees that were planted the winter before through the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. This is a hugely important first early step towards the ambition at Wallington to plant 1 million trees by 2030. The work being carried out this year will also involve restoring hedgerows and replacing conifer plantations, which were blown down in Storm Arwen, with more native trees. This year’s target is to plant over 100,000 trees. Look out for ways that you can take part later in the year.

  • Proposals to create a community woodland between Scots Gap and Cambo, plans to include mixture of broadleaved, blossom, fruit trees and. community planting.

  • Creating a new Wilder Wallington Project volunteer team to help us monitor and survey the Estate for birds, bats, plants, butterflies and more

What is Wilder Wallington aiming to achieve long term?

This project is aiming to:

  • Ensure access, enjoyment and exploration of the Estate is easy with peace and tranquillity across a landscape that is rich in nature and history experienced by all

  • Help land management become nature friendly and increase the climate change measures that are in place across the estate including creating new woodland, restoring wetlands, peatland restoration and protecting soils

  • Support tenants to incorporate nature recovery schemes in farm business plans

  • Successfully deliver nature recovery at a landscape scale through a nationally recognised transformational land management restoration programme

  • Help natural processes operate in restored habitats with healthy soils storing carbon and water

  • Make wildlife habitats bigger, better, and more joined up. Introduce key species and expand their ranges. Ensure habitats are well connected allowing species to move freely across the Estate and beyond to important biodiversity hotspots

Aerial view of Gallows Hill Farm at the heart of the Wallington estate
Aerial view of Gallows Hill Farm at the heart of the Wallington estate | © National Trust

What are the timescales?

Wilder Wallington is a long-term project, with milestones set up along the way. The last couple of years have seen the start of the process with the mass tree planting as part of the DEFRA funded Green Recovery Challenge Fund. There have also been river quality studies, habitat surveys, ongoing native species conservation programmes and crucially the start of discussions with tenant farmers, partners and the community about what we all hope to achieve. Shorter-term goals have been identified looking at what is achievable quickly, but a lot of this ambition will take time to achieve, we’re setting 2030 as a key date to see significant change and improvement across the Wallington estate.

In 2023 we are working on:

  • Baseline Habitat Surveys

  • Water Quality Monitoring

  • Drone Surveys

  • Opportunity mapping

  • Woodland Creation Strategy

  • Pine marten and water vole feasibility

  • Identifying grant funding opportunities

  • Engaging tenants and other stakeholders in the design processes

  • The introduction of beavers

  • Delivery of Wansbeck Restoration for Climate Change grant works

  • The planting of 5.7km of hedgerow

  • 74ha of peat restoration

  • 900m of riparian corridor protection

  • 48ha grassland restoration

  • First phase of tree planting at Newbiggen Community Woodland

This year we will also be working beyond our boundaries, engaging and developing partnerships with our neighbours and other local organisations such as:

  • Groundwork NE, Middleton Estate and Low Harle Farming Collective via Wansbeck Restoration for Climate Change project

  • Hepple Whitefield and other private landowners

  • Northumberland National Park

  • Wildlife Trust and Rivers Trusts

  • West End Women & Girls Centre and West End Refugee Services

What can you see on a visit?

The majority of this work is taking place further into the estate, however, when you visit Wallington over the coming months and years, you will be able to find out all about the projects underway during your visit to the main visitor areas. From displays in our Visitor Welcome building, to pop up stands in the courtyard, to family-friendly events. We will be heading out into the community to bring the details to you and there will be films and other content created for the website to keep you up to date, which will also play in our Visitor Welcome building.

How can you get involved?

You can also look out for events taking place across the year to get involved with from tree planting to habitat surveys and so much in between. Check out Events at Wallington (nationaltrust.org.uk) for the latest information on events and activities taking place.

Wallington 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, visit Volunteering opportunities at Wallington | National Trust