1 June 2012

Half-Term Fun and Volunteers Week

Half-term fun
With Half-Term upon us we thought we'd remind all you parents about Wray Castle. Now there'll be even more to do as our Rangers have been very busy creating special places in the grounds where the kids can enjoy themselves under the National Trust's '50 Things to do Before You're 113/4' initiative. With things like a Tree Swing, Den building and Tree climbing it's a great place for kids to let off steam. To find out more read our countryside blog about the Rangers' 50 things efforts so far or visit our National Trust 50 Things website.

Did you know that next week is Volunteers Week?
Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) is an annual event which celebrates the fantastic contribution that millions of volunteers make across the UK. Here on our South Lakes patch we are particularly lucky to have a very diverse and enthusiastic team of volunteers helping us with our work in both the historic houses and the countryside. During Volunteers Week it will be business as usual for them but there's no better time for us to say a big 'thank you' to all of our volunteers. Here's a quick look at just some of what goes on.

Our volunteers play a vital part in helping visitors get the most out of their visits
As the week begins our volunteers at Hill Top, Beatrix Potter Gallery and Wray Castle, are preparing themselves for our season turning pretty hectic: Hill Top switches to longer summer opening times, the schools go on Half-Term holiday, it’s the main Japanese holiday season, and to top it all the UK is having a  ‘Double Bank holiday'. Regardless, our volunteers will continue to help us give exceptional visits to all our visitors.

The recent weather has been good for plants (and weeds!), so the community growers are busy tending their plots at Monk Coniston's walled garden, whilst our garden volunteers have been helping Pete (the Gardener) make Hill Top such a welcoming traditional cottage garden.

Monk Coniston Community Growers exercising their' green fingers'
Brian & Jenny hard at work in Hill Top veg garden
In the wider property our Volunteer Path Rangers have been constructing drains near Guards Wood to prevent the damage caused by water; hard work but very rewarding, especially as their own initial surveys identified all the work required; 100s of miles of paths walked and surveyed in all weathers. Some of these hardy souls enjoyed it so much they’ve moved onto our woodland boundaries, and let me tell you there’s a lot of boundaries to survey!

The South Lakes Conservation group has been busy as usual, working hard on some dry stone walls near Windermere, back-breaking but rewarding.

Volunteer lengsthmen on a previous walling job
Unusually the High Wray Volunteer Centre has been quiet, with no groups in this week, but that doesn’t mean the team have been quiet. Instead they’ve been preparing for one of their tougher tasks – 5 days, 12 volunteers, a bog, a load of sheep wool (see Ranger blog 'Loads of Fleeces...') and because of the remote upland setting they’re all going to camp.  This is one of our successful NT working holidays, let's hope the weather is kind to us (though even when it’s not, the scenery can be spectacular as you can see below!)

You take the one on the right, I'll take the left - one's bound to have gold at the end!
This has been a snapshot of just some of what goes on in an average week with our volunteers, they are always busy with these and lots of other tasks, bringing enthusiasm, ideas, freshness and a sense of fun to our team here in the South Lakes.

If you're interested in learning more on aspects of our volunteering here's some useful links:
post by Paul K responsible for Vol Development here
photo credits : various including National Trust, Rob Clarke, Paul Kear, Photography by Ward, Volunteering England