We were very lucky recently, May and July 2012, to run a number of farm visits supported by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. We were very pleased that over 60 people were able to come along and visit such wonderful farms and see how hard people are working to improve the landscape for future generations.
‘Thank you for the other night, it was wonderful to see the farm and the obviously huge efforts they make in keeping it so nice. I was both humbled and inspired by the work that had gone in to providing better habitat for wildlife.’
A visitor to Smeetham Hall
The first walk took place on the Bevills Estate in Bures during May, starting at the Thatched Barn just outside the village. From there we wandered along a short section of the River Stour and discussed pollarding, barn owls, otters, water vole, white-legged damselflies and black poplars. From there we meandered up the valley with bluebell woods, considered dormice and nightingales and looked back over the ancient valley landscape. A trailer ride on a tractor took us up the hill and over into the next valley to see the oldest building in the parish of Bures, the Chapel of St. Stephen (1218). The chapel meadows are where lapwing wheel and dive, we discussed arable flora, farmland birds and the dragon of Wormingford. Thereafter we headed back to the Thatched Barn via Great Constables where John Constable’s father farmed and the recently established orchard which now yields fruit for home-use apple juice.
‘Thank you for a well executed and interesting and informative evening last night. You even arranged for a little sunshine to make everything look especially lovely! As I said to Nella and Geoff, we all left a little the wiser which is always a good thing.’
A visitor to Bevills Estate
The second walk took place at Smeetham Hall in July where we started at the Hall’s moat, before moving down into the valley with views across scrub areas for turtle dove. We saw various different areas of wildflowers and legume mixes designed and managed to attract a diverse range of butterflies and moths (and checked the moth trap finds). We will meander along a short section of the Belchamp Brook with cricket bat willows and ancient oak pollards. We walked past the ancient Heaven Wood to the steeper species-rich valley slopes, before turning back homewards. We past broom planted for green hairstreak butterflies and spring barley strips and wild bird cover managed for farmland birds, discussing the practicalities of various Higher Level Scheme management options.
We would like to offer a huge thank you to Geoffrey and Nella Probert, Anthony and Bridget Hyde-Parker, for helping us to put on such an interesting and informative series of farm walks in the Stour Valley. We would also like to thank the supporting specialists Juliet Hawkins, Simone Bullion, Steve Piotrowski (Suffolk Wildlife Trust), Edward Martin (Suffolk Archaeological Service) and Neil Catchpole (Dedham Vale AONB), who’s depth of knowledge made the walk very special.
Yes it's back by popular demand, we will be running some more traditional willow workshops over weekend in late July. We have not agreed locations for these events yet, so if you have a local group who would be interested in hosting the course, please do get in touch.
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